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Pleasure as an Act of Resilience

Our senses are a resource in helping us build more emotional resilience. Beyond touch, taste, smell, sound, sight, I am adding movement, intuition, visualization, thoughts, and feelings. Below is a guided exercise that is also available at the end of my podcast entitled Lyvonne Briggs and the Divine Design of Pleasure.

Think about what brings you pleasure. Remember this pleasure does not need to be sexual in nature. Pleasure opens the body. That is what we are looking for. Some people may get stuck at thoughts and feelings because pleasure was not permitted in their families growing up. Give yourself permission to stop and try this again another time if you need to. 

Take 5-30 minutes or more to answer these questions for yourself:

  1. Thoughts/emotions: Let’s start with thoughts because your beliefs can be the gatekeepers. Try to be in this present moment despite the to-do list or past beliefs of ancestors creeping in. Choose what feels good to think about right now? What thoughts bring you peace, help you exhale more fully, like a sigh of relief? Are you thinking All beings are safe, we all deserve to feel good, I deserve happiness, I deserve love? It’s important that this is in your own words because we all have certain words that we react to. What emotions arise? See if you can recall something you feel grateful for or curious about? What happens in your body when you do?
  1. Touch. How can I receive touch or give touch that feels good to my body, mind, and heart? What kind of contact feels good? Where do I want to touch myself or my partner?  Maybe a light tickle on my inner arms, massage my feet or neck firmly, or scratch my head. If you are engaging with your own or someone else’s genitals what kind of stroke feels best? Knowing your body helps you advise people on what feels best to you. Remember we all like different things, at different times depending on who we are with and where we are.
  1. Taste. Is there something that I love the taste of? If you have that thing you are craving right now go ahead and eat or drink it, otherwise recall it. The coolness of a carbonated beverage going down your throat on a hot sticky day. Or Is it the saltiness of someone’s skin, or the sweetness of a flourless chocolate cake? Describe the layered flavors, the temperature or spice.
  1. Smell. What smell comforts me or turns me on? How can I have more of that in my life? Smells bring us back to the past so you may want to have a bottle of essential oil that you like to bring you back to the present moment if something comes up that doesn’t feel good or if you find yourself spacing out. The thing you love the taste of may also have an aroma that makes your head float or makes you nostalgic, brings you back to a time of no responsibility and freedom, perhaps brings you back to being in bed or in a pine forest with a lover. 
  1. Sound: What sound has my body relax? Maybe it’s listening to bird songs in my garden or the melodic resonance of my neighbor practicing cello, a baby giggling belly laughs that make her topple over, or a moan that escapes you as you squeeze your own nipple in between your fingertips and with just the right amount of force. 
  1. Sight: When I see this I immediately squeal with joy, smile and my chest expands. Maybe it is a puppy, your best friend’s smile, a bouquet of peonies, your favorite team scoring a winning goal, or your lover shirtless. What creates warmth in your body? Warmth is a sign of well being. Think of how we say, “That makes me feel warm inside.”
  1. Movement: How can I move that feels really good? Is it stretching, walking more slowly, dancing, rotating my hips to rhythmic drumming or bass. If it is during sex with myself or another, is it varying and mixing the kinds of movement of my hand or whole body up so it keeps me in the present moment? How much can I listen with my lips and hands and then move accordingly? Movement helps process energy and integrate new experiences. Movement can change our state and mood.
  1. Intuition: How can I listen to that quiet voice inside me more that knows what I like? It is not what I should like, it is what I authentically enjoy, but I may feel ashamed to voice it. Can I identify it? What does it sound like? When does it show up? This inner voice is different than the part of me that shuts it down or overrides. The overrider is a voice of fear or one that is protecting me out of habit and is often accompanied by a tighter chest and belly. Try to ask this part to step aside and keep listening for the other voice.
  1. Visualization: Let’s put it all together. Visualize yourself in a physical space that you enjoy, either with someone you feel safe with or by yourself. What are you wearing and how does it feel against your skin? Where are you and what is the weather like? Is it sunny or rainy out? What do you smell? Can you taste anything? Maybe there is salt air because you are by the sea. And what depth of sound can you hear in your environment?  How are you breathing? Does it slow down or quicken? How does your body feel overall? Scan your whole body and see if you can describe all the parts that feel good. How does your body want to move? Perhaps dig your toes into warm sand or feel the strength in your legs as you run. As we bring this exercise to a close, remember you don’t have to actually be in a situation to feel something. You can simply recall a positive memory to regenerate the positive feelings. You have the power to do this again and again. A new neural pathway for receiving pleasure is strengthened every time you do.

image by Solstice Hannan

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© 2022 By Charna Cassell, LMFT. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. MFC 51238.

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