Pleasure Brings Spiritual Nourishment

Sep 14, 2016

Pleasure Brings Spiritual Nourishment

This summer has given me so much.  I took a slowed down pace that allowed for much more pleasure time: longer morning meditations, a self-directed solo retreat, many river swims, bike rides, regular hikes in the Gatineau Hills with my friend, summer music concerts, dinners with friends on the back porch, time with my grown-up daughters and grand kids, and time in the garden and community markets.  And then last week I joined a workshop with my soul guide-poetry teacher, Kim Rosen (, and my poetry tribe in Marin County, California.

The upshot is I feel good … very good! On every level of my being, I feel nurtured.  And I’m noticing the close relationship between spiritual nourishment and pleasure.  All the things that feed my spirit, my spiritual essence, are in the realm of pleasure.  Some of it looks like what you might think “spiritual” should be: retreats, meditation, and workshops where you’re stretched and challenged out of comfort zones – maybe not pleasurable in every moment, but the overall freedom these activities bring, certainly is. 

Spiritual nourishment needs to be holistic – something for each aspect of you: your body, creative self, mind, and emotional and social self, as well as the so-called spirit.  All these aspects of self are intertwined. 

Spiritual nourishment and pleasure can be very simple.  It’s right there in the “daily presentations” as poet Mary Oliver calls them, in her poem Mindful.  I’ve claimed Mindful as one of the great pleasure poems; read it below.

A lot of spirit food is just ordinary and day-to-day. But, you can overlook these daily blessings, so here are a few tips:

• Make an intention to be spiritually nourished by each day’s pleasurable moments.
• Be on the look-out for them.
• Slow down and do less.
• When you bump into one of the “daily presentations,” let it land in your senses – in your body.  Savour it for at least 20 seconds so it registers in the nervous system and sets a new neurological default in your body.

Let me know how this works for you.  Taking pleasure is unique to each of us. 
What pleasures nourish you spiritually?


Every day
I see or hear
that more or less
kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for -
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world -
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant -
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these -
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

                  - Mary Oliver

Next entry: Pleasure interacts with growth and development

Previous entry: Bringing the Sensuous Back Home

“Madeline offers a safe space to explore what it is that blocks our capacity to live in pleasure. She supports us to recognize our unhealthy associations with pleasure, so we can finally open up to that which provides real power, serenity and love.”

Benoît Cazabon, author, professor, and coach