This Lady Lowdown article is by Stef Osofsky-- writer + coach whose work focuses on sex, pleasure, intimacy, and relating. Follow her work and connect through www.prideandpleasure.co
Before we go any further, go ahead read that word a few times. Feel how it lands on your body. Notice what is triggered in your mind when you take it in. What involuntary reactions are set in motion simply by reading this eight-letter word. No matter what your automatic response to it is, the fact that there is a response as all should come as no surprise. Anything from the snicker of a pre-pubescent child to flushed cheeks and a stirring between your legs, to full-blown anxiety fits the script. We’ve made pleasure mean something very specific. In short - bow chicka wow wow. You feel me?
I have people from far and wide, from all walks of us, reaching out all the time asking how to approach their sex lives more consciously. There are so many collective narratives we come up against when we start to press into these parts of ourselves. Often I find that there’s a dismantling that wants to occur where the “old beliefs” break down in order to make way for something new to form. And I keep finding that in order for us to zoom in, we have to first zoom way, way out. I also keep finding that so many people don’t actually know what makes them feel good. Forget turned on, sexually stimulated, and hard/wet/whatever kind of excited - just good. Period.
The idea of deepening our relationship to pleasure can be both exciting and intimidating as f%^k. But what if we stripped this word of all of the inference we’ve applied to it and just look at what it actually means? Hey Webster...pleasure
1: a state of gratification
2: frivolous amusement
3: a source of delight or joy
That changes things, doesn’t it? If I can derive pleasure from many, many different channels of experience in this wild human ride, then maybe I already have a relationship with it and I just can’t quite see it yet.
so, let’s talk about how.
- Take back the definition - first things first, throw out your conditioned idea of what pleasure even is. Undress the word from what we’ve made it mean, into something without so much suggestion. If you’re waking up in the morning and asking yourself what would bring you pleasure that day, orient towards pleasure meaning - feeling good.
- All up in your senses - Now that the idea of pleasure is beginning to mean something different, start to connect with the senses through which you get to experience the world. Attune to sight, scent, sound, taste, and touch as the wellsprings of information that they are. Is there something that would make you feel good to taste right now? Or to smell? A particular article of clothing that would feel good against your skin? A shift in the temperature of the space you’re in? We are so numb to the fact that we are digesting information from the world around us through our senses all the time. If you paid attention, what would bring you sensory pleasure - a state of gratification - to experience?
- Own the shit out of your yes and no - We’re so damn good at people-pleasing. It’s ingrained in us to avoid “confrontation” or discomfort as a result of anticipated disagreement or disharmony. How about when you’re asked on a date and the other person suggests a place that you don’t really want to go, but you agree for the sake of being “easygoing”. Or when you’re out at a group dinner and split the check evenly when your friend’s cousin just ordered another bottle of wine for the table and you just enjoyed your plate with a glass of water. Pleasure does not mean being agreeable to satisfy everyone else. It means truly listening to what we want and need and expressing ourselves from there.
- Try new things - You know that saying “You don’t know what you don’t know” ? - let me just retweet that here real quick. We miss out on so many opportunities to align with pleasure simply because we don’t know we like something yet. Whether it’s a new way of holding yourself and exploring your body during self-pleasure, or a new coffee shop in your ‘hood, or moving your body in the morning instead of at the end of your day - bust out of your routine and get curious about where you can incorporate something new and see how it feels.
- Have a breath - I shit you not, I had the most important orgasm of my life in a breath-work session, but this suggestion need not take you to that stop on the spectrum (although all the power and glory to ya if it does). Pause and have a moment with your breath. If you tuned in, right now, how would this life-force of yours want to be moved? What would feel good? Our breath is perhaps our most immediate access point to this moment. And, the contraction of the diaphragm sends a message to the brain to release dopamine. So, go on and get a hit of that good good.
The moral of the story is this, take the damn pressure off, babes. Focus on giving yourself permission to define what feeling good means in your dictionary. Give the world back its definition, its projection, and its stories. What does pleasure mean to you?