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Is it hard for you to open to pleasure, to prioritize choices that are purely about honoring that deeper kind of nourishment?

Is there a sense of needing to have earned it somehow?

Is it easier to focus your attention and priorities on the people you are caring for or the work in front of you?

Do you have trouble being fully present to either the pleasure, or the task at hand because you are thinking about the other thing you are wanting to do (or believe you ought to be doing)?

Despite what some might project onto living on a tropical island in the winter, my time in Bali these last two months has not all been bliss — not at all. And yet in the mix of how life has been stretching me in sometimes uncomfortable and vulnerable ways, being on this island has also been a time of consciously opening more fully to sensual pleasures and delight — bathing in the ocean water, breathing in the play of light at sunset, dancing with abandon, bicycling in the warm breeze, taking in the colorful natural and cultural beauty everywhere, relishing in the tastes of amazing fruits and cuisines.

As I’ve been exploring these experiences, I’ve been observing how it is still such a strong reprogramming for me to be able to let go and relax into fully giving myself permission to do things that feel good! And to let myself do so without any pressure of other things I ought to be doing, without needing to justify it to myself in any way — to truly allow and open to nourishing myself in these pleasureful, life-giving ways.

One example of something that I absolutely love and that nourishes me deeply is playing ultimate frisbee. A few days ago I joined a game here in Bali. I can’t tell you how much joy and pleasure I received from running around on a field with a bunch of people chasing a plastic disc. Parts of me came alive that I simply don’t access in any other way than in the context of a sport like this. And I find it hilarious that it took being in Bali and being invited to a game that a Canadian man here has organized, to finally play again.

I’ve been telling myself for years that I ought to join an ultimate frisbee team, yet I haven’t played regularly since 2004 in graduate school. This is a part of myself that feels like it has been neglected, that I knew was neglected, and yet I somehow didn’t prioritize nourishing for over a decade. We all have those things that seem so obvious and simple in terms of how much they feed us, and yet somehow they aren’t present in our daily lives.

Putting it Into Practice

  • Think for a moment about what you most love, what lights you up, what delights and fills you with pleasure. Are those things woven into your daily life?
  • How might you give yourself permission to allow this life-giving nourishment to be present and received by you on a regular basis?
  • What would change if you oriented around those things that give you pleasure as basic necessities to feed your body and soul?

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