I took a three day workshop recently that was based on turning toward pleasure. We find the range of challenge, perhaps the edge of difficulty and then draw back into pleasure: in a yoga pose, in a discussion, in life. I was shocked. As a woman in recovery I am suspicious of pleasure. What if I get "hooked" ? What if I indeed crave something that isn't good for me? I nearly felt panic as she used that word, pleasure, over and over. I have just gotten used to turning into my pain! (A topic for another day.)
While I counsel students to find the sweet spot of engagement in yoga poses, I am often fall shy of doing this myself. "I can take it" has been my repeated phrase (I won't use "mantra" as that is a healing term, curative not harming.) And in life, I have been finding more opportunity for contentment and compassion, but pleasure?
Maybe this is semantic, and I want to be sure I am not over stepping my puritanical origins by finding joy and thus surely falling short of maximum effort. Perhaps the word itself has been defiled by past use and is a trigger word for me. Perhaps I need to tough out feeling GOOD as I am already practiced in feeling bad.
So this moment, perhaps all day, I will practice turning toward pleasure. The danger, as Epstein states below, is the clinging. And maybe the craving.
be well, have pleasure
Clinging—not desire—is where we get stuck, and it’s possible to embrace desire without clinging by infusing it with awareness. Desire, in fact, can be a powerful meditative tool on the path to enlightenment.
—Mark Epstein, "In Defense of Desire"