We got a bit of snow last weekend, which made me think of my old mare, Sunny, who passed away a couple of years ago. I love this photo that captures one of her greatest pleasures. When the snow was deep enough, the first thing she’d do when I let her out of the barn in the morning was get down on her back, kick up her legs and roll! Even when she was well into her elder years, and suffering aches and pains, she still found a way to delight in it.
This memory made me ask myself, how are you finding pleasure these days? And also, is it okay to feel pleasure when so many people are suffering? The answer to the latter is yes. Just like we need to nourish our bodies with healthy food, water, movement and rest, we must also nourish ourselves with pleasure in order to be healthy. It’s not a luxury. Research shows that experiences that bring us joy trigger the production of neurochemicals that have a direct effect on our ability to respond to stress and can even boost our immune systems. So, if we want to support those who are suffering, we must not skimp on our own doses of pleasure.
But for most of us it’s not so easy. The same day we got the snow, I taught a Qoya class with the theme of Nourishing Yourself. We talked during class about our cultural conditioning to attend to everyone else’s needs at the expense of our own nourishment. We talked about the story we often tell ourselves that we have so much to do that there is no time for pleasure. We also talked about changing that paradigm for ourselves. After class, I got a message from one woman with lots of family and work commitments who said she took time to enjoy her sauna and a hot bath. Yes!!
So that brings me to my first question: how are you finding pleasure these days? I think it’s important here to be honest with ourselves. If we are binging on things like food, alcohol/drugs, tv watching, shopping or social media we may just be feeding an addiction, not filling ourselves with nourishing pleasure. I have often struggled with the difference between pleasure and escapism, which is not necessarily binging but a lie to myself nonetheless. A key for me to tell the difference is to notice after an activity whether I feel full and satisfied or still somewhat empty.
This chaotic time we’re in has taught to value the simple pleasures–a walk in the woods, a good cup of coffee, a chat with a friend. I’ve realized these humble moments are really the most pleasurable of all. I’m keeping that in mind as I head toward a much-simplified holiday season. And at the ripe age of 60, I have finally figured out that no one is going to present pleasure to me on a silver platter! It’s my responsibility to nourish myself.
I’m going take a cue from Sunny. I’ll seize every opportunity I can to kick up my legs and roll in some nourishing pleasure!