I want to talk a little bit about some of the shadow aspects of pleasure. Although we are programmed as human beings to avoid pain and seek pleasure, it’s that word “seek” that we want to stay awake to.
“Yes, I was born for pleasure. And yes, I’m designed for pleasure and I want to have more pleasure in my life.” We can start to grab at pleasure, seek it as if it’s outside of ourselves – as if it’s not who we are. For example, we’ve all had this experience where we reach for pleasure as a way to not experience our feelings. In fact, maybe the experience of feeling afraid or feeling angry would best serve us – for us to allow it, let it flow. It’s about working through whatever is there for us. Only then are we naturally brought back to our state of being in greater alignment, harmony, and pleasure.
Part of the reasons that this can be a tricky path for us, this pleasure path, is that we can be seeking the pleasure – we can be trying to go out there and grab it – which can fuel all kinds of addictions. Whether we feel unattractive, or we feel we never got the attention we wanted when we were little girls, or we feel that we never got the love. This fueling addictions is called eroticizing our needs. Instead of working through our needs we can start eroticizing them. For example, hooking up with a lot with people who are giving us more things that we want love such as love and attention but it’s not arriving in that way. And we keep on hooking up with people who are going to deny us what we want, or deny it to us at the level of depth and longing that we are so craving.
The pleasure path can become tricky because we haven’t done that work of really dialing in who we are and doing our work around where the wounds are. That’s where that reaching for pleasure can be fueling more of the shadow or wounded aspects of ourselves.
In our tantric path we look to the way of being in a right relationship with pleasure, and being sensitive to the possibility of flipping it into the indulgence of pleasure. We really want to stay awake to “Am I in a right relationship with that pleasure, am I on the side of indulging it and what does that create?” We also want to stay awake to the other place we may go, which is suppressing it altogether.
It’s a much trickier path to say. “I’m going to stay as awake as I can. I’m going to be a student of pleasure.” That probably means there are going to be times where we tip into excess, whatever that looks like. And there’s going to be times where we have to really go more into suppressing or repressing this relationship.
What does it look like to keep staying awake to our relationship with pleasure, awake to the shadow aspects of it? Here is a phrase I heard from Robert Augustus Masters, “Eroticizing our needs, even sexually,” he says is, “Recruiting our genitals for tasks they are not meant to fulfill.”
With big love and blessings to you, Lisa