Hitting Play on Pleasure

2023 is the year of PLEASURE and PLAY.

I’m talkin’ bout spicy, sensual, and particularly unproductive pleasure. The feel-good body-high that has no agenda. A magical carpet ride through your wildest fantasy.

Because it’s time to de-shame the juice of pleasure and the “immaturity” of play.

For a few years, I’ve been on a treasure hunt to discover what it looks like to be a grown-ass woman who leads with pleasure and knows how to play. But I realized over the last few months that I am still under the influence of the shame that perpetuates a feeling of deep worthlessness and emptiness associated with non-productivity. These shameful experiences have reignited my passion for why women need pleasure more than ever, solidifying the theme for my work moving forward.

Shame Hijacks the Body

Last fall one afternoon I partook in some delightfully pleasurable sex in the middle of my “workday” (I determine the parameters of when I work, so calling anything a “workday” is completely arbitrary), and immediately following this heartfelt intimacy with my partner, my body felt a sense of wrongfulness. Wrong because I wasn’t being “productive”. Wrong because I “shouldn’t” enjoy the luxuries of sex when there is so much hard work that needs to be done. I didn’t mindfully process or move through the shame. Instead, my good ‘ole habit of escaping the discomfort kicked in, so I quickly returned to work to squash the feeling of being “bad” and “lazy.”

A second incident took place on Christmas day following the usual morning festivities of present-opening, french toast, and being with my loved ones. I recall looking at the clock as it turned noon and realizing that I had nothing to do. Suddenly the day felt long and torturous. I scanned the house for something to clean, but everything was already spotless. The books were color coordinated. The laundry was folded. The floors swept. I didn’t feel the call to work on my business, so I stayed out of my office. But my body was hell-bent on finding something productive to do.

Like an addict who needs a drink, I needed some activity. I paced around the house in a panic. I feverishly brushed my favorite wig’s hair, cutting out knots and flat-ironing the frizz–I think I made it worse. By late afternoon, that profound sense of emptiness came over me and I fell into a depressive state. The shame took over me, as I neglected all of my mind-body practices. I lost connection with my essence and found myself in a dark tunnel.

A recovering perfectionist and workaholic, I am not ashamed that this happened. I am a work of art, constantly unfolding. I’m thankful for the occasion to be reminded of my humanity.

“If the soul is supported in developing, and unfolding, in other words, it will naturally be drawn towards its Essence, which is, its inner truth. Spiritual development, then, is really a matter of non-doing and of removing the obstacles and logjams that impede the flow of our souls.”

Sandra Maitri

I’m the self-described feminine flow queen and Mind-Body Wise Womxn.

So, exactly what the f*ck happened last year?

My body was relapsing into early childhood programming, leading me from a state of agitated determination to stay busy (i.e. to find self-worth) into a state of giving up and numbing out (i.e. to avoid feeling the pain of not finding that self-worth). Immersed in it, I was blind to the somatic intelligence of my body searching for worthiness. Reflecting on it now, I realize why these incidents transpired in the way that they did.

My body was conditioned to believe that feeling good, rest, and pleasure can only come if you’ve earned it by working hard first. As I paced around the house on Christmas Day, it literally felt like death to allow myself to sit down and surrender to non-activity. I eventually collapsed into a depressive state in the evening–pitifully sinking into the living room rocking chair–only because my body had exhausted its every last effort in finding something meaningful and productive to do. My mind-body finally shut down as stories of worthlessness took over me.

2023, Let’s Get Down ‘n Dirty

These two experiences have one thing in common that I am now a flaming advocate of—“unearned” pleasure.

You don’t need to earn pleasure. You don’t need to be “good” before you rest and relax. You don’t need to work hard before you allow yourself to play. You don’t need to accomplish anything or perfect your life before you RELISH in your inherent birthweight to be in your pleasure. You don’t need more willpower, self-discipline, or practicality. You need more conscious pleasure.

Unconscious pleasure is the compulsive and involuntary self-limiting behavior that hijacks your body when you deny yourself healthy, conscious pleasure. It’s binge eating and binge shopping. It’s getting drunk when you didn’t plan to. Whatever ego-gratifying compulsion emerges, ask yourself how often you choose pleasure, especially when it feels “undeserving”? Ask yourself if your pleasure has been unconsciously demonized. Listen, it’s not your fault. This inner work isn’t about becoming a perfectly well-behaved robot, who doesn’t have cravings or unconscious behaviors. It’s about de-shaming these urges and de-shaming pleasure and play, so that you can more consciously pursue that which brings you radiant joy from head to toe.

If New Year’s Day is an indication of how much joy and pleasure (3 orgasms, to be precise) that I’ll call in to my life, then 2023 will be the best year yet.

Let’s revive pleasure and play. Let’s reclaim our right to feel good even when it feels undeserving. Let’s drop in to our flow and divine presence. Our deep stillness. Our fully aliveness. Because fuck body-rigid do-gooder self-discipline!

Mind-Body Practice

Consciously choose pleasure when you feel like you least deserve it or when you haven’t earned it. Take a pleasure or play break in the middle of your work day or the weekend when you’re supposed to be doing chores and running errands. Take a nap when you’re supposed to be writing a report or taking out the trash. START your day with pleasure. Be late to work. Spend $200 on a top-of-line vibrator.

And when that discomfort creeps into your body–whether it’s a sense of emptiness, worthlessness, or wrongfulness–ask yourself, “What is my body trying to take care of right now? What is it trying to protect? How is it defending me? Why is it showing up for me in this way?”

And just allow yourself to sit and listen. Your mind-body has many wise parts that want to talk back. Gently and lovingly remind these parts that you’re safe, okay, and deserving.

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