Monday, July 24, 2017

Turning Toward Pleasure

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"

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