All posts by awakemandie

It’s My Pleasure…

Pleasure.  Pleasure in my life.  Pleasure in my creative process.  Where does pleasure come from?  What does it mean to find pleasure in some thing or act?

My first thought is of physical pleasure…that very earthy, almost tangible joy I derive from my body’s sensations: the tingle of a lover’s touch, the warm embrace of a dear friend, butterflies in my belly, a really great massage, a super comfy pair of lounge pants after a long day dressed more formally, a savory meal that delights all of my senses, the sun on my skin…especially after a long winter.

Pleasure, however, is inherently an emotional and spiritual experience – the experience beyond physical stimulation, reaching deeper than my senses: expansiveness and connection created by a spiritual practice, the sensation that floods me, growing from deep in my center, when I am of meaningful service to another human being or to life itself, immersion in the flow when I am fully engaged in my creative process; when I am playing for the song…  Where does that pleasure come from?  How can I experience more pleasure – giddiness – excitement -sheer joy – deep satisfaction?

Understanding what brings me pleasure is key to cultivating pleasurable experiences.

I cannot consider pleasure one dimensionally.  In this multi-dimensional world there are at least two sides to every coin.  When I think about pleasure, invariably I also consider pain.  Pain, the places where I get stuck, whether they be in my creative process or life in general – stuck in a pattern, stuck in an attitude, stuck in some emotional prison.  Being the other side of the coin,  pain is the inverse of pleasure.  When I understand where or why I’m stuck, when I understand the source of my pain, I can shift from reaction to compassion, from reaction to response-ability.

Understanding what brings me pain is key to mitigating painful experiences.

When I contemplate the experiences in my life that brought and bring me pleasure – the times I am open, engaged, immersed in the beloved flow and when I contemplate the experiences in my life that brought and bring me pain – the times I am contracted, apathetic, fighting against that infernal ebb, my awareness is shifted to a similarly inverse relationship: opportunity versus obligation.

Being the human that I am, I have a natural resistance to obligation.  I resist demands on my time, energy, heart, creativity – any of my resources.  Whether the obligation generates internally or externally, it has the same effect: resistance.

Obligations manifest themselves as shoulds: should exercise, I should eat healthily, I should develop a spiritual practice, I should be of service, I should  be happy.  Oh…if only I had a nickel for every internal or external “I should be happy”….well, you know the saying!  Obligations manifest themselves as previously made commitments.  I said I would and now I am obligated.   Obligations manifest themselves in the form of expectations: expecting others to meet some need of mine – a need for consistency, trust, safety, love, self-esteem.  I oblige my pleasure, my happiness, to your willingness, availability, and awareness.

Oblige: to put under binding contract  (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 5th Edition,  1940)

All of these manifestations chip away at the pleasure inherent in every choice.  Every choice is born from obligation…. or opportunity.

Who doesn’t love a great opportunity?!  Everything in my life was born from a choice that I made.  Understanding that concept is the epitome of personal responsibility and freedom.  When I am free, I experience pleasure.  When I enter consciously into the choices I make, fully aware that I want to make them, fully aware that the experiences I choose are an exercise in mitigating pain and cultivating pleasure, I give myself the opportunity to derive the greatest pleasure from my choices.

 

I have the opportunity to love the way my body feels when I exercise, when I have been exercising, when I am strong and flexible; when I have the opportunity to pursue other pleasures without the limits of a neglected body.  I create the opportunity to experience self-love when I make healthy food choices, when I prepare a wholesome meal for myself.   I find great pleasure in the opportunity to experience the expansion and connection born from my spiritual practice.  I have the opportunity to witness the softening and gratitude that dances across another humans face when they feel important enough to have been cared for; when I have been of service in a meaningful way.  I have the opportunity to choose happiness in the face of adversity and move through life with joy and peace.  I get to feel the lengthening of my spine and the power of being able to look people in the eye when I either follow through on my commitments, or make response-able, alternative arrangements.  I get to experience great pleasure from your presence, and even greater pleasure from your love and esteem when my ok-ness and worth don’t hang in the balance.

Can you feel the subtle difference in your body when you shift from I should to I get to….from I have to, to I want to?

When it comes to my own creative process, when I sit down with a piece because I should, because I need to, because I’m obligated, I often experience the frustration and pain of stuck-ness.  If I seize any of the opportunities for self-love and pleasure listed above, I can often move from stuck to flow.  When I fixate on the outcome, whether it’s the finished painting, poem, blog post, or process and product of coaching, I imprison creativity and block flow.  When I am playing for the song….the opportunity to engage for the joy of engaging, fully connect with my muse in service to the connection…I am immersed in flow.  In that immersion is indescribable pleasure.

 

Time For Love — Ideas for working self-love into the over-extended schedule

I did it!  I signed up.  Even with my already over-extendedschedule, it was something I couldn’t resist. “The Blog Your Heart Out Challenge” starting on Valentine’s Day 2015 was calling my name.  I have never written a blog before, but with my intention to develop a website devoted to putting my writing, art, and personal evolution out for the world…it seemed like a good idea. So, I signed up.

The very first challenge, Grounding Your Writing in Self-Love, asked us to write for 10minutes creating a list of what we do, or would like to do, that is truly nourishing for our creative spirit, body, and heart.  When finished, we were to select 1-3 of the practices we were willing to commit to for the 2 week Blog Your Heart Out Challenge. Knowing I was going to select 1 -3 practices to do every day created resistance in me.  I know all too well the demands on my time already, and committing to adding more to my schedule felt like more than I could do.  More than I really even wanted to think about.  However, I did sign up for this.  I know there is something to be gained from meeting my resistance head-on.  I have faith in the process.  I started my list.

I am fully aware of the importance of self-care, the revolutionary power of self-love.  And,somehow, in the busy-ness of my every day, that is the ONE thing that gets sacrificed on a regular basis.  The very thing that sustains me, opens the channel to my muse, powers my creativity,gives me the strength to face a relentless to-do list, keeps me calm and centered, and cultivates my ability to connect with others through first connecting with myself is the very thing I so easily cast aside with the “I don’t have time” mantra I find myself constantly chanting.  “There are only so many hours in the day,” I tell myself, attempting to ease the pain of my own neglect.  I discovered that my resistance to this exercise was actually an act of self-love, protecting me from further over-extension.  However, the intention of this resistance and the impact were incongruent.  I need self-love to be effective in every other thing I do.  There had to be a way to meet both needs – the need to protect myself from further over-extension and the need to incorporate self-love practices.

What occurred to me during this 10 minute exercise was a more poignant awareness of the importance of self-love, a more heartbreaking awareness of how easily dismissed this practice is in my life, and, most importantly, the possibility that self-love does not have to take dedicated blocks of time.  The practice of self-love, I discovered, can be simple gestures, divine intention draped over a mundane task, easily incorporated with what I already do.

Believing that others might also struggle with the practiceof self-love and self-care, and curious if they too may have no idea how to fit the practice in an already over-full schedule, I decided to share some ideas of how I will incorporate this practice in my life.  Maybe these ideas will create a crack in the paradigm of ‘not enough time’ and generate some creative ideas of how you can add self-love practice to your life, without adding to your to-do list.

·     Add some intention to my daily shower, washing away stories that don’t serve me, negativity, and other stressors.

·     Make a little altar to myself, maybe on my dresser with its grand mirror.  Maybe leave tokens or gifts for myself.  Take amoment to                  light a candle and catch my own glance.  Just a moment.

·     NVC Body Scan. Take a moment, especially lying in bed before I drift off to sleep, to scan my body for any tension, pain, or area that grabs my attention.  Ask it what it’s trying to tell me, what its name is, what it’s born from.  See ifthere is a feeling living there, born from some unmet need.  And then ask what I can do to help meet the need.

·     For at least one meal a day, be fully present to my meal.  No multi-tasking, no reading, answering emails, occupation with my to-do list, some unresolved interaction,or whatever else may be running around my mind. Be fully present.  Notice the aesthetics of my plate, the aroma of the food, the taste and texture that explode in my mouth, and the nourishment my body feels from the feast.

·     Imbue the task of housework with an ambiance of self-love, creating space that nurtures my serenity and sense of well-being, rather than the attitude of “something I have to do” and “just get it done”.

·     Get enough sleep.  My schedule is very demanding and what I know about myself is if I don’t get 7 hours of sleep, I am emotionally incapable of dealing with the pressures of daily life. I become overwhelmed, intensely negative, and lose my ability to cope.

Hopefully this crack in my paradigm of ‘not enough time’ will grow, and my awareness will flood with more ways to incorporate self-love as a daily intention and way of moving through my to-do list.

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