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Mindfulness and pleasure

“Mindfulness” is a way of being that is mindfully aware, observing, accepting of all of our experiences, our thoughts, emotions and physical sensations. It asks us to view these experiences from the position of observer or “curious scientist” and to accept them with an attitude of loving kindness.

I don’t know about you, but there’s plenty goes on in my head and emotions that I would like to shut down or get rid – I’m sure most of you have noticed by now that it’s near impossible to make thoughts not be there (“don’t think about a pink elephant”) and shutting things down usually creates more problems. Mindfulness offers a way to be with difficult experiences, without being overwhelmed and so is often used to assist with managing stress, anxiety and depression.

I’d like to invite you to explore using Mindfulness to enhance your awareness of your moment by moment experience of pleasure. We are wired for survival to pay way more attention to threatening or negative experiences, than positive ones. So it takes conscious attention to balance things out.

Beyond that though, mindfulness of pleasure offers a pathway into the self, a way of experiencing yourself more fully, of really being present in moments. Whereas Hedonism would have us drown in sensations of pleasure, Mindfulness has us moment by moment aware of more and more subtlety.
Think the five senses. Incorporate your breath to enhance your sensory awareness.

Begin with taste – may I suggest a square, just one square of a really good dark chocolate. Feel the texture and temperature of the square as you break it off. Notice what happens in your body in anticipation of putting this in your mouth – do your senses waken? Breathe slowly and deeply and bring the square to your nose, as you take in the aroma, how does your body respond? Do you notice pleasure centres opening, do muscles relax. Slow it down, take three slow deep breaths as you take it in. Notice any part of you that wants to rush, that is resisting the pace, look on this part with kind, loving acceptance while you continue your slow exploration.

Break it in half again, hear the gentle snap. Place a piece on your tongue, tune in to all the notes, like a description on a wine bottle – can you taste salty, sweet, bitter? What is the taste like on different parts of your tongue? Notice the part that wants to devour, choose to savour. What feelings does this experience evoke in you? Allow them to be there, watch them kindly.

Now see if you can bring some of this new, slow, awakened sensibility to your daily experiences and interactions. Does this bring more awareness of your internal experiences, that of others? How does this change the quality of a moment, of a day, of an interaction?

Pleasure – a most valid and valuable pathway.