There’s a widespread and often unconscious belief that pleasure is solely connected to the act of sex, but the reality is there are SO many arenas to experience pleasure outside the realm of sexuality. In relationships, we tend to abdicate our pleasure to sexual partners or lovers, and when we’re single, we wait for the right person before we can experience pleasure at all. This is not to suggest we should remove sexual pleasure from the equation—it’s a beautiful thing!—but, rather, to wholeheartedly emphasize that pleasure does not depend on anything external to us. There are myriad opportunities to experience pleasure every day, and when we open ourselves to these experiences, we bring exponentially more joy and fulfillment into our lives.
The Problem with Mapping Pleasure over Sex
There are really two issues with conflating pleasure & sex.
The first is that this merging of two separate threads into one, is how we miss out on many deeply pleasurable experiences that have nothing to do with sex: The touch of a warm breeze on your cheek, the smell of a garden rose, hearing a wonderful song, or piece of music, the taste of a strawberry picked straight from the garden, or the luxurious sensation of relaxing deeply into your own warm bed.
All of life offers itself to us to be seen, felt & experienced. While not all of it is pleasurable, much of it is – when we are aware enough to notice. When we open to sensation & experience in this way, we quickly begin to realize that, while sexual pleasure may be a wonderful pleasure, it is actually the minority of the pleasurable experiences available to us.
The second issue is also one of misunderstanding. While we all cognitively know that we can experience sexual pleasure with ourselves, most of us still unconsciously relegate sexual pleasure to the domain of ‘sex with an other’. Imagining that sex, and therefore pleasure, only happens with another person leads us to feel dependent on an other to feel, or experience, pleasure. When we are living inside the unconscious belief that we can only experience real pleasure with another person, we tend to blame others when we don’t feel good.
In relationship this often looks like resenting our partner for not having sex with us often enough, or making love to us well enough; this can sound like complaints of ‘not being met’ or feeling abandoned. Out of relationship, or lovership, this often looks like hopelessness at ever being truly loved, or a sense of an unfillable hole of yearning. This disempowers us & cuts us off from our innate creativity & pleasure.
Here are four things to do in order to experience more pleasure beyond sex:
1. Embody your sovereignty
In truth, pleasure is our natural state & our birthright. Pleasure already lies within us – available in nearly every moment. To touch this already-always-available pleasure, we must learn to draw our attention and awareness back to ourselves. Our pleasure is ours. In order to connect with our own pleasure, we need to be linked with our visceral moment-to-moment experience, focusing on the present. Cultivating our capacity to inhabit the present moment allows us to fully tune in to the fullness of our own visceral experience.
When we involve ourselves in an experience with another person, or a group of people, it can be easy to focus our attention on someone else other than ourselves. Claiming our sovereignty requires that we be able to shift our attention back towards ourselves – even when we are with a partner or group – and ask, ‘what am I feeling right now?’ or ‘what would allow me to feel (even) better in this moment?’ To have the capacity to include someone in this sphere of awareness but also place an emphasis on ourselves is part of what I call, Sacred Sovereignty – a sovereignty that includes connection.
2. Tell yourself the truth
Especially as women, we tend to have ideas of what should feel good & what should bring us pleasure. In order to actually experience pleasure, we have to let go of every single ‘should’ & be willing to tell ourselves the truth about what actually feels good – not just sexually, but moment to moment in our day to day lives. We must rigorously avoid falling into thinking something is meant to feel good, when it doesn’t – or pretending to ourselves or others.
It’s essential that we check in with ourselves: “Does this feel good?” “Do I like this?” and then be radically honest with ourselves about the answer.
(*It is important to note that you have 100% agency to continue with something that doesn’t feel good. But, please – please do not lie to yourself.)
3. Live in the present moment.
Pleasure occurs in the present moment. We have to actually BE there to feel pleasure. This requires that we fully inhabit the actual experience we are having in order to feel pleasure. If we go for a walk, we must really feel the sun on our skin, see the rain drops glistening on the leaves, feel the wind on the hairs of our arms, sense the ground we’re walking on – and, to the best of our ability, be fully conscious of our surroundings & the way they interplay with our body & being. We can’t rush these moments, we have to immerse ourselves – even if just for a moment here & there. As long as we are caught in the past, or drifting into the future, we are missing out on the pleasure that’s available in this very moment. Similarly, as long as we are afraid to actually feel our bodies, we will limit our capacity for pleasure, joy & fulfillment. This is easier said than done, and I invite you to take it slow: a moment here, 5 minutes there…
4. Take ownership of your pleasure.
Your pleasure is yours. You are welcome to share it, to reveal it, to revel in shared pleasure. But in order to do so generously & truly, we must always remember that your pleasure is yours, always has been yours, and always will be yours. When we link a relationship as the key to unlocking all pleasure in our lives, we give our ownership of pleasure to someone else. Pleasure is inherent in our experience already.
It is a revolutionary act to walk the path of truly exploring, experiencing & knowing your own pleasure: what actually feels good to you, how you love to be touched by your own hand, or caressed by your own attention; what experiences fill you with delight, and allowing yourself to begin to follow where pleasure leads you – in or out of sexual/intimate relationship.
As we cultivate the capacity to find our own pleasure in every moment, we cease to be driven by the pursuit of pleasure, that inself frees us. By separating the drive behind the compulsion for needing a partner to seek out pleasure in every experience, we take back our ownership and sovereignty.
If you want to learn more about tapping into your inner pleasure, cultivating Sacred Sovereignty and so, so much more, check out my 12-week, online program, the No-Man Diet. Join a group of women in a safe, closed container where first and foremost, we tell the truth to ourselves. From there we practice genuine curiosity about our lives and our relationships, and all kinds of incredible things happen. Check it out here:
Watch the full video where I go into deeper detail: https://www.facebook.com/kendra.cunov/videos/10157433022336536/