You know that feeling.
You can feel it right now if you choose.
It is a sensation that feels very good inside, like you are sunshine; you are the ripple of wind across the water.
It feels sacred. It feels sensual. It feels pleasurable. It feels like the best possible truth. It feels like rapture.
Our internal compass develops in a healthy way by tuning itself, like a pitch pipe, to pleasurable experiences.
Problem: pleasure is not a word that people can hear, right now. We turn our backs to it, like a crucifix to a vampire. It threatens our opinion about our very nature, and our survival.
For those of you who are old like me — remember how, 40 years ago, we laughed at those imbeciles who insisted on eating organic food? Yup. Or those crazies who insisted we go running every day? Yup. Now we are all doing it.
It is my conviction that the pursuit of pleasure is that new cutting edge, in our health and well-being.
You can tell by how awkward it feels.
The cutting edge is not ever comfortable.
But hey, you’re here, reading this post. You got this far.
You might just be a Pleasure Revolutionary.
The root of the word, pleasure is from the Old French, plesir, which means enjoyment or delight.
Let’s go back a few thousand years.
What felt good? Every aspect of the primitive indigenous human experience: eating, sleeping, waking, moving one’s body, being challenged, taking care of one another, living in harmony with the natural world, hunting for food, being held, touched, known, being part of community, working for and with others.
Spirit was intact, held in place by human awareness, conscious of the gift of life. Feeling pleasure was an internal guide to spirit, the compass to the gift of connection to the divine.
Pleasure – especially the erotic, the sensual – is largely an invisible word in our culture.
A disparaged outcast.
An unnamed, unrecognized value.
Audre Lorde explains, “As women, we have come to distrust that power which rises from our deepest and non-rational knowledge. We have been warned against it all our lives by the male world, which values this depth of feeling enough to keep women around in order to exercise it in the service of men, but which fears this same depth too much to examine the possibilities of it within themselves.”
People that seem interested in pleasure are regarded with skepticism.
They seem odd. Or out of step.
Pleasure is considered threatening. And repulsive. And profane.
All of which it is, according to a culture that values things like goal accomplishment, pain, suffering, and money – over feeling.
Picture a yoga studio filled with 100 sweaty bodies, moving in sync to ancient postures. To some, that is a revolting waste of time. To others, who have experienced the pleasure in the practice, that image, that experience, is heaven on earth.
Picture someone really taking his or her time, licking an ice cream cone on a hot day as it drips down the side of the cone. Taking ecstatic licks and nibbles, perhaps moaning with delight. To some, this is a repulsive, self-indulgent image. To others, it is a voyeuristic delight.
Feeling pleasure is what every developing baby strives for. The reason babies are so delicious is that they are one aspect of human experience where one can feel totally right about surrendering to the erotic pleasure, and still remain in compliance with a culture that disparages pleasure. We can bury our faces in the delicious belly or thigh of an infant, or nibble their neck, in public, and not feel aberrant. But do the same to your lover, or your mother, and you are pressing the boundaries of unacceptability.
The world was created for sensual pleasure.
You cannot look at, and allow yourself to feel, a sunset — and not agree with me.
No other reason to have that crazy ecstatic crash of golden fiery sprays of pink yellow purples splashing across the infinity of blues if we were not supposed to vibe to the ecstatic privilege of life while watching a sunset.
No reason to have 100 varieties of peach trees, 100 varieties of peach trees, for fuck’s sake, if we were not supposed to sink into the succulence of each kind.
But, you have to be able to feel yourself, sensually, to know that.
And you have to value the feeling.
This is nearly impossible in a world that has taught you, from birth, to cut off from your feelings, and to disconnect from your own sense of sensual pleasure. The world has so deeply vilified the sensual that we turn away from it, in fear, before we can be educated by its potential power, guidance, and illumination.
In fact, we are so immediately organized to feel the repulsion of the sensual that we dump the whole distinction of pleasure right into the well of the pornographic, or the sexual. Yet, in truth, the sensual has little to do with the sexual, and nothing to do with the pornographic.
The location of the sensual is precisely the entry point between the woman and the divine. The address of the soul is in the body, the sensual. The sensual is our area code, our zip code, our social security number. It is the way we navigate and feel our placement in the world, integrating us, alongside the rest of the natural order.
The sensual teaches us to trust ourselves, our deepest truth, our deepest intuition. It is where the divine lives inside us.
If you want to locate your divinity, locate your sensual pleasure.
If you are a woman who feels a subtle, almost un-nameable sense of something missing, something wrong, something not quite right – you are a woman who has not yet rooted herself in the fullness of her sensual reality, her sensual truth – pleasure – as her birthright.
A woman so untethered has not been given her birthright. Nor has she known that it was hers to take.
This is one of the overarching components of a patriarchal culture – there is no expectation of a birthright for a woman.
If we do not know that a privilege awaits us, it is way too easy to miss.
A lifetime of longing can pass without a woman experiencing her value, her significance, the ultimate importance of her thread – her golden thread – in the very fabric of the world’s survival.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments . . .