You might not believe me.
Are you ready?
OK. But I’m warning you. It’s not easy to take seriously. Even though it is critically important!
The number one thing that you must to every day to get healthy and relieve pain is experience pleasure – preferably lots of it – in every aspect of your life.
Lack of pleasure contributes to pain, fatigue, and other chronic health issues.
I’m completely serious.
Pleasure is an essential nutrient that you need, each and every day, to become and remain healthy. ~ Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom
You’re probably thinking that even if this could be true, it isn’t practical and wouldn’t apply to you because you’re either too tired, too busy, too old, or in too much pain to make pleasure a priority in your life – much less in your body.
You’re not alone. We dismiss the idea that pleasure is actually good for us with countless rationalizations ranging from the fact that it is selfish and possibly immoral, to the fact that we just don’t have enough time.
I’m here to tell you that you can’t afford not to make time for pleasure!
Pleasure – ALL PLEASURE, but in particular for a woman, SENSUAL PLEASURE is your golden ticket to healing your body quickly. And to creating anything else you want! In addition to the fact that pleasure makes your soul sing, there are physiological reasons that it’s a necessary ingredient for optimal health.
Pleasure is accompanied by the release of all kinds of health-enhancing chemicals in your body including nitric oxide, the neurotransmitter that is responsible for all the other feel-good neurotransmitters, like beta endorphin, seratonin, and dopamine.
Interestingly enough, if you don’t get enough beta endorphin from your lifestyle, your body will get it from alcohol, drugs, and sugar. Hmmmmm.
Dr. Northrup also says that, “High levels of pleasure (and nitric oxide) will provide you with increased blood flow to your breasts and to all other internal organs (including the vagina)……as well as enhanced parasympathetic nervous system tone which relaxes your muscles.”
These are all things that we consider very very GOOD on the mind body healing journey. Increased blood flow to the muscle and nerve tissue in the vagina is beneficial for healing vulvar pain. Enhancing the rest and digest response (parasympathetic nervous system) helps heal all kinds of pain, pain syndromes, and fatigue.
High levels of nitric oxide are produced by a healthy, pleasurable lifestyle.
This includes but is not limited to…pleasurable thoughts, movement, breathing, meditation, touch, taste, sounds and smells. In fact, Dr. Northrup goes on to say that, “Regular orgasm is a sure fire way to increase nitric oxide in the body and also beta-endorphin. This chemical not only enhances mood, it is also a natural pain killer.”
A natural pain killer.
A huge part of our energy and power as women comes directly from our connection to, and our ability to own, love and experience outrageous pleasure through our body, and in particular through orgasm.
When we’re not accessing that, we not only lose our spark and energy, we lose our health.
It is no coincidence that, in a culture where women have been shamed and abused around their sexuality for so long, there are many women suffering from pelvic pain disorders, depression, and chronic fatigue.
If you are struggling with pain or fatigue right now, it’s possible that just the idea of pleasure (and especially orgasm) may completely turn you off, or stress you out, or just sound like too much work. That’s totally ok.
You can start slowly.
All you have to do is start making pleasure (any pleasure) a part of your life, wherever you are, in whatever way works for you, right now.
It bears repeating twice……You really can’t afford not to.
So, how can you start adding more pleasure into your life?
1. Get Into YOUR BODY
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, being IN your body is the first step towards just about everything that is healing…pleasure included. Pleasure is FELT in your body. It requires presence and awareness of sensation. One great way to start being in your body and becoming aware of sensation is to breathe. Just take some time to notice your breathing.
2. Slow down/ Be Present
Take time to smell the roses or the coffee, or to feel the sun on your skin, or your child holding your hand, or to notice your breath. Just a few seconds of being fully present with whatever you are doing (including feeling an emotion) will increase your pleasure in that moment. Interspersing your day with many tiny moments of conscious pleasure will go a long way towards building your pleasure muscle and your nitric oxide levels.
3. Do Some Pleasure Research
OK, here’s where we get to have some fun! Brainstorm all the things that bring you pleasure. Write down your desires. Include everything, even if it’s illegal or immoral. You don’t have to do it, or even plan to do it (yet). Just enjoy the delicious pleasure of making the list. Whenever you notice yourself doing something that brings you pleasure, add it to your list. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Taking a hot bath
- Reading a book for fun
- Browsing in a book store
- Browsing in an art store
- Playing with color – pencils, paint, markers, fabric, etc.
- Appreciating – myself, someone else, or anything…out loud, in my mind, or on paper.
- Petting my cat
- Laying in the sun
- Making love
- Cooking a delicious healthy meal
- Wrapping up in a soft fluffy blanket
- Spending time in the woods or at the beach
- Chatting with a good friend
- Anything else you can think of!
I’ve only scratched the surface here – let your imagination run wild. The more you pay attention to what brings you pleasure, the more of it you will bring into your life.
4. Pleasure Breaks
Add 3 pleasure breaks into your day. A pleasure break can be anywhere from 3 minutes long to several hours. It can be anything from a 3 minute dance break (turn up the volume on your favorite tunes and boogie), to 2 hours or more for a massage, a walk, or great sex (alone or with a partner). Use your pleasure journal for ideas. Notice how pleasure affects you.
Scan your body before you start and after you’re done. Do you feel different?
Making time for pleasure, exploring your desires and yourself, will change your life.
Start with these exercises. Next time I’ll give you more great info about sensual pleasure including ideas for getting started even if you haven’t experienced pleasure in your body for a long time and you’re no longer sure it’s possible.
I’d love to hear your experiences and anything you notice about pleasure this week! Please share or ask questions in the comments below.
Great post. Really struggling with this as things that used to be pleasurable have got a bit lost! And there’s a loud voice in my head that tries to convince me that I wouldn’t know what pleasure felt like if it bit me, even though I had fun smashing tennis balls at my tennis lesson this morning, the doubt and anxiety didn’t ever quite leave.
It would be great to read about getting started when you’re still not quite trusting your body and it feels like an eternity since you were able to relax into it. Look forward to it.
It’s great to hear from you. Thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate your sharing your experience and letting me know what info would help you. When your just getting started it helps to start small, and just where you are – with learning how to relax into your body. Have you tried the allowing relaxation recording? If you’re having trouble relaxing into your body I would start with that. It is a simple and very powerful tool when practiced regularly because with practice it teaches you how to be in your body and be present with whatever sensation is there – even the uncomfortable ones. This is a hugely important first step! The recording is included in the free Mind Body Alchemy Starter Kit that you can sign up to receive on the top right of this page. In addition, if anxiety and doubt are getting in the way of your experiencing pleasure, working with your thoughts and feeling/allowing your emotions is going to make a big difference. I’ll be writing more about emotions in upcoming posts. For now you might find the previous posts “Morning Anxiety” and “How to Think More Positively” helpful. I hope that helps!
I just read your blog and it sounds so strange to believe it. Pleasure has not been in my life for quite a few years now because of so much pain, i would not even know where to start. I am so afraid to even start because of the pain. Looking forward to reading more. Thank you for caring.
Thanks so much for reading and your comment. I know! It is not easy to make the mental shift to considering pleasure when you’re in so much pain. Start very small. See if you can find tiny ways to bring some pleasure into your life……reading a book you love, watching an indulgent movie, getting a foot massage, saying loving things to yourself. What kinds of things did you love to do before you were in pain? You might find some clues there. Use the ideas in the post and just start with a list of possibilities. Honestly, putting your mind to the task of finding things that might bring you pleasure is enough to begin having an impact on how you are feeling, at least emotionally. So, I’m glad you are thinking about it, even if right now you’re afraid to start. That’s normal. Don’t let it stop you 🙂
Sending lots of love,
I feel the same as Kara. I can think of and do some pleasurable things but have to fake my enjoyment as my pain overrides it as it is always present or the fear of it showing it self consumes my mind and the discomfort makes me want to withdraw. I try to understand what my body is trying to tell and to just “let it be” but have failed so far which makes me feel like I am the only one who cannot do this. I have to try to ease the pain somehow. I should mention my chronic pain is severe urethral burning and urethral\vaginal pressure. I so want to understand the language my body is speaking.
this was such a lovely reminder and it re-ignited my desire to sprinkle more pleasure breaks throughout my day! many thanks for your lovely writings sistah!