What is your relationship to “pleasure”? Like… really, really….
I think most of the time we tell ourselves “Of course we have a good relationship to pleasure… who doesn’t right…? I mean… we all like stuff which feels good… in fact, perhaps we like things which feel good too much…. You know, those over-indulgences in cheesecake or Saturday night binging on Netflix…. Perhaps that glass (or 2 or 3) of wine to help us recalibrate at the end of the day …. If feeeellls soooo good… and we down-right deserve it!… Yup, my relationship to pleasure is sorted.”
Well…. I thought I had a pretty good relationship to pleasure myself… I am adept at taking leisurely sojourns in nature, attend bliss-focused retreats, live a life of luxury…. until I challenged myself to dig a little deeper….
I was finding myself in another avoidance cycle (yup one of THOSE) and I was getting triggered by other people’s success, way of doing business and marketing, their bodies and fitness, their ability to compete in riding shows, their general ease at getting things done, whereas I felt like I was wading through hip-high quick-sand…. Exerting a lot of frustrated effort but not really getting anywhere…. Hence the ultimate overwhelm-turned-avoidance.
I then reminded myself of a childhood favourite story book/song back from 1989: We’re going on a bear-hunt by Michael Rosen
The main theme of the big bear hunt adventure when they are faced with obstacles is that they can’t go over them, they can’t go under or around them…. The only option is to go THROUGH THEM… (while reminding themselves that “they are not scared”) (I can’t help but read this paragraph in the singalong tune that I grew accustomed to reading the story with as a child)
And so I asked myself the question….
…the things which are triggering me are related to having more pleasure in my life? What if the way of exploring (and creating) more pleasure…. Is like going on a bear hunt….. The only way through is….. THROUGH…
In other words…
When faced with an obstacle, don’t try and avoid it further, don’t try and move it around like a puzzle piece to make it fit better…. Simply dive right into it…. Immerse yourself in it and see what wisdom it contains.
This was at least the wisdom of one of my first Tantric teachers and definitely the theory of one of my influential teachers Carolyn Elliot (which she also speaks more of in her latest book Existential Kink – a highly recommended read)
And so…. I decided to create a thought-experiment-cum-21-day-challenge for myself. I have named it HEDONE after the Greek Goddess of pleasure and delight, the daughter of Eros (Cupid) and Psyche.
Over this period I will explore my relationship to pleasure… I will explore my fears around the sensations of experiencing more pleasure, I will unravel the layers of beliefs around pleasure – what is it for me? What associations or criticisms do I have which hold me back from embracing it as a path of freedom…. Which ultimately I believe it to be…
Imagine the possibility where we allow the path of pleasure to be our guide…. Like following the rainbow to find the coveted pot of lucky gold….
Where doing business (getting the perfect body, finding true love etc…. Fill in your own dream/desire) is less about the hustle and contorting to be someone that you are not… and more about being truly magnetic , pulling your desire to you, because you are being irresistibly yourself…. I.e. in Dr Seuss’s words: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
I think these famous authors are all on to something….
I am now on day 8 of my 21-day challenge and already I am being turned upside-down-inside out as I explore recesses within my psyche which have been hard-wired to believe that I should be someone else other than who I am… that I should do life in ways that have been pre-chosen for me.
I will admit… even though I thought this ride was going to be rather hedonistic and pleasurable….. Like anything tantric it has turned out to be quite a topsy-turvy mind-fuck.
Although… any adventure into the labyrinth of the psyche is always rewarded, and I am already finding a trail of gold coins which can only lead to more wisdom, freedom and PLEASURE…
This weekend I will head off into the tropics to absorb the bliss and enjoyment of the Indian Ocean, commune with zebra and rainbow coloured fish and drop out entirely from any notions of what I “should be doing” in order to be effective and efficient i.e. valued in the world.
On my return, I will have turned another decade and find myself in the wisdom years of Fabulous at 40! I’m incredibly excited and hopeful that my devotion to HEDONE is going to unearth some hidden treasures on this next adventure.