Have you noticed that pleasure has a kind of elusive nature? It’s hard to pin down because try as you might, you can’t “make pleasure happen.” It’s like a good belly laugh or a perfect intimate connection with another person. These experiences come about by something in you – let’s call it, your state of being – and not necessarily by something you do. This state involves being open and receptive, expectant but not demanding, willing but not directive.
In Pathwork the spiritual discipline I follow we say deep pleasure is about surrendering to your involuntary processes. Involuntary refers to the terrain beyond what the ego governs.
Being in a true state of pleasure requires a letting go – of our personal agendas, of controlling the outcome, of expectations, of what we call the ego’s demands, which are predominately about safety, looking good or appearing better than others. Conversely, being in an ego-dominated energy creates a closed circuit where it’s very difficult for spontaneity (the hallmark of pleasure) to emerge.
The involuntary processes ask that you trust your deep inner nature to carry you and trust that the goodness of life will unfold and enfold you. You know what I’m talking about… you might call them peak experiences or magical moments. Once you’ve tasted what feels like a blessed experience, you want more. But the irony is as much as you want it, you can’t “make it happen” by force of will.
But there are preconditions that can help you be ready for such deep pleasure.
This is where I see the interactive nature of pleasure with personal growth and development.
Being in an ego-dominated state is an immature place. You’re ‘young’ when you demand and expect that things always be “my way.” It’s a child’s place when you feel unsafe and insist that you should never have to feel uncomfortable or challenged by life. You’re childlike when you blame others for life’s hard knocks. You haven’t yet learned to be truly self-responsible if you’re overly preoccupied with your self-interest.
All systems of personal or spiritual development are designed to help us grow out of these naive attitudes and behaviors into true maturity. Personal growth and development allows us to be open and receptive to the spontaneous. This is the freedom gained by maturity; you have a level of trust and faith in life that only an ego that can let go of itself, can muster. This is where pleasure shifts from being about indulgence or exploiting situations, to a deep inner state of joy, relaxation and bliss that need not be contingent on any outer reality.
Again the beauty is that the more frequently you dip into this blessed state, the more it feeds your spirit so that you can take more risks outside of the ego’s domain. In these states of true pleasure, your trust and faith in the benevolent nature of life is nurtured.
So when you feel discouraged or lose focus on your path of self-development, remember that growing and developing enhances your capacity for pleasure. Let that knowledge be a powerful motivator for you to keep on your path. When you give your best to the endeavor of growth, you create a benevolent feedback loop where the more you live beyond the ego’s dictates, the more pleasure you experience. And the loop continues – as you experience more pleasure, you will have more soul nourishment to dive even deeper into your development beyond the ego state.
I’d love to hear about your experience with the interactive nature of growth and pleasure.
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“I had signed up for the workshop with a vague idea of validating whether or not beekeeping was something I wanted to get back into, so wanted the real experience and ‘instruction’ around hive life. But I also wanted to spend time in the imaginative life of beekeeping – so the poetry, and your story of bees as a significant part of your healing journey was really important. Sensing into your relationship with them - the calm, the respect, the love – was an important part of witnessing how a relationship with bees teaches those very things. I loved how the different activities dove-tailed so well into one another. The ‘energy meditation’ of approaching the hive taught me well about respect for boundaries, and the deep purposefulness of their lives. We can co-exist beautifully as long as I ‘let them bee.’ “