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Imagine a world without the experience of pleasure. Life would appear colourless and empty of magic. The good news is, we don’t live in such a world; better news still is that we are biologically wired to be guided to deep pleasure and the best news of all is that the experience of deep and unrestricted pleasure has been proven by abundant studies to be essential to our levels of physical and mental wellbeing. Without pleasure, we cannot thrive.
One of the main reasons people take up meditation is to seek healing from stress or depression. Yet ironically, one of the main reasons people cite for giving up on meditation is they find the practices they are using joyless and hard work! Deep, lingering, bodily and emotional experiences of pleasure and wellbeing may not be qualities we traditionally associate with meditation if we are used to styles which encourage numbing and detaching, but they are an essential element of the healing and vitalising benefits of meditation.
In recent years, psychologists and neuro-scientists have been paying increasing attention to the brain states associated with pleasure and joy and their relationship to wellbeing. We are now learning that an ample supply of pleasure, passion and satisfaction is a key element in keeping stress levels low and vitality high.
When stress becomes chronic it can sap our energy, sabotage our sleep, increase inflammation and cripple our immune systems. Studies show that pleasure on the other hand, has a powerful role in strengthening the immune system, providing natural pain relief, releasing a host of neurotransmitters implicated in stress reduction, lowering inflammation and increasing a sense of emotional resilience. Pleasure and joy are an essential tool in our self-care kit, giving us the vitality and energy to take better care of ourselves and others, inspiring our creativity and purpose and allowing us to engage more meaningfully with the life around us.
In this workshop, I will introduce you to a range of practices for meditating with pleasure aimed at bringing us closer to our instinctive and intuitive selves and initiating deep healing in our bodies and minds as well as making meditation itself – rather than a chore or discipline – something enjoyable that we feel deeply attracted to and compelled to do and which strengthens our positive relationship with life. We will also investigate our collective and individual resistance to pleasure and find ways to rebel against impulses that extinguish our vital flame.
This workshop will take us on a fascinating and rewarding journey of opening up to a whole range of sensual and emotional pleasure and along the way, explore the healing that might be needed in the parts of our psyches which have learned to resist or distrust pleasure, often at the sacrifice of our mental, physical and spiritual health. Participants will leave with a new repertoire of enriching practices for meditation and daily life and may even feel a radicalised, newly-positive approach towards their own self -care and relationship with life, including spiritual life.
This workshop is a perfect entry-point for beginners wanting to learn to meditate from scratch, for those in a long term practice who have fallen out of love with and for anyone looking for ways to enhance and expand their mental, physical wellbeing and spiritual life. It will also offer resources and practices for those working in the fields of energy work, teaching and mental and physical health.