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.
According to Dr. Northrup, 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. She 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.