Pleasure is our birthright.
At our core, we’re innately designed to move toward pleasure – and away from pain. Pain makes us contract and shut down. Pleasure invites us to open up, reach out, and tune into our senses.
This week I’ve been dipping into an old textbook from my Radical Aliveness training with Ann Bradney, a book called Eastern Mind, Western Body: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self, by Anodea Judith.
She explains that, as children, we experience pleasure through closeness, touch, spontaneity, freedom to move, play, and validation of our emotions. We take pleasure in being in our bodies and encountering the world. When our reaching out is met with love and encouragement, we see life as a pleasurable experience.
Unfortunately, when we grow up in a harsh environment, or one of deprivation, we learn to shut down our pleasure. We inhibit our spontaneity, our movement, our creative expression.
When our primary, healthy pleasures aren’t met, secondary pleasures take over. Drinking, drugs, sexually acting out, overeating, self-harm. Secondary pleasures don’t satiate primary pleasures, so we’re never really satisfied. This feeling of always craving for more is the basis for addictive behavior.
This week in my creative writing classes for children, teens and adults, we talked about the pleasure/pain principle. I asked my students simple questions:
What is pleasure?
How was pleasure regarded in your family?
Was it frowned upon, or indulged?
What gives you pleasure today?
Then the students wrote about it, some in the form of a poem, others a simple journal entry.
Pleasure is a great topic of conversation. It makes for a great writing prompt. I encourage anyone reading this who likes to journal, or works with students of any age, to ask them these questions, and ask them to write a journal entry or poem with this theme in mind.
Here’s something wonderful written by one of my adolescent students, who asked to remain anonymous:
I am suspended in the water
My legs too short to stand,
the coarse swirling sand
creating a prickly sensation on my legs.
I raise my hand out of the water.
The twinkling of silver catches my eye,
as the bangle around my wrist
catches the last few minutes of light.
The soft baby skin aged with wrinkles.
A memory of my late grandfather
flashes before my eyes.
Holding his hand, feeling the prune-like skin
that comes with age
as we dance to his favorite song.
Another wave sweeps over me,
washing away distant thoughts
as well as my masterpiece along the shore.
Head bobbing to the rhythm of the waves,
I watch as the foam encroaches
into the shoveled out moat.
I rise with the water,
as a thundering wave
wipes out my little village.
A tsunami has struck.
Annoyance begins creeping along my spine
for I worked long hours,
my skin now burning
from the relentless sun exposure.
Taking a much needed deep breath,
I glide to the surface of the water
my legs last to follow.
The big dipper shines down
bright in the purple sky.
Each star twinkles
seemingly trying to convey
a message in their own
version of morse code.
Floating with the waves,
I am at peace.
Peace only found
in my happy place.