In all things human

You have a right to pleasure.
Pleasure.  Say it.  It’s slow, it’s sensual, it has a lovely shhhhhhh sound right in the middle.

You have a right to feel good in your skin.  It is, in fact, a divinely given right bequeathed to you via your senses, who, like tiny angelic messengers, are constantly bringing you a bounty of sensations upon which to feast.

Your breath |  Your skin |Your sight | Your taste |Your hearing | Your smell.

We live in a culture that is terrified of pleasure.  “It’s…sexual,” we’ve been told in furtive tones, “It’s just indecent!  If we let it take over, who knows what will happen next!” Our pleasurable responses have been strapped down and brow-beaten until they are anemic and sickly.

Because pleasure is power.
Wars are fought over the restraint of pleasure.  Women enshrouded head to foot, both sexes circumcised, emotions shoved down, sexuality twisted into dysfunction.  So when we do have the occasional pleasurable moment, we almost immediately revert to shame (“You shouldn’t have eaten that cake/ slept with that man/ bought that velvet couch”) or start dreading its imminent demise (“This can’t last/ I don’t deserve to feel like this”).  We don’t dare trust that we could actually feel good and not be somehow punished for our impertinence.


You have a right to pleasure.

And not just sexual pleasure; you have the right to claim the subtle pleasures that are embedded in the fabric of every moment.  The pleasure of breathing and feeling your lungs stretch, the smell of your coffee, the feeling of your favorite sweater, the taste of your food, the sound of your children’s voices.  Most of the time, we rush past these delicacies and move on to “doing something important.”  I, for one, have eaten far too many un-tasted meals.

But we have to be brave. When we allow ourselves to feel, we get present to NOW and WHO we ARE, which is utterly exposing.  And feeling pleasure may open us to feeling other emotions that may not initially seem quite so appealing.  Fear, anxiety, sadness, longing.

But here’s the wild paradox: you can feel pain and  pleasure at the same time.   You can be uncomfortable, sad, even devastated –  and still marinate in the deliciousness of your life.  In fact, those emotional colors will actually heighten your ability to feel pleasure more thoroughly, more completely, and in every moment.

Imagine a world where we dared to claim our right to pleasure. Where we didn’t have to wait to be perfect, or pretty enough, or successful enough to embrace the sensations of our lives.    Where we are already beautiful, delicious, and fully sexy.  Feeling pleasure makes the preciousness of our life unavoidable.  Having a greater connection to our feelings leads to empathy, joy, truth, and deep relationship.  Ultimately, feeling pleasure will lead us to joy and peace.

We must actively cultivate our capacity for pleasure. 
We must practice opening ourselves afresh to the exquisite sensations of being alive.

The Pleasure Manifesto:

  • I am a delicious and miraculous child of the Universe.
  • I claim pleasure as my birthright and accept full-heartedly the gifts of my senses.
  • I relish my body’s aliveness, sensations, and vibrancy.
  • I discard shame as an antiquated social imposition, and I feel the pleasure of each and every moment.
  • I am brave and choose to live more fully, freely, and passionately NOW.


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Showing 2 comments
  • David M. Kane

    In thinking about your post “The Pleasure Manifesto”, I’m pondering a notion of how pleasure has been vilified. Setting aside historical elements of how sexuality has been frowned upon and focusing purely on the more modern life, what role of the vilification of pleasure do you see as being linked the notion that so much of what people do in the Western modern world for pleasure is actually unhealthy in the long run?

    I guess my point would be that people turn to food and escapism, and things of that sort in order to get that kind of feeling, but it is all driven from a, frequently, unhealthy, external mechanism. How much of pleasure being a dirty word is linked to the fact that people have forgotten to generate/cultivate/grow/foster it internally and thus seek to get it from an inherently less beneficial, if not outright problematic, source?

  • Rachel

    Yes! Absolutely – and I think the turning to food and escapism is often a direct result of not being able to pause in a place of discomfort and just be with it. Turning to food/ alcohol/ drugs for relief from discomfort creates an immediate high that most often leads directly to a downturn, and the loop starts to spiral downwards. And over time, we need more and more “fixes” to feel better, and we become less sensitive to how we really feel. But when we can actually pause in the achy, tough space and feel, we begin to cultivate our capacity to be more sensitive the inherent, ever-percolating yumminess within ourselves as well.

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