Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Pleasure Instinct and Abundance

The Pleasure Instinct acknowledges our innate human trait to move towards pleasure and away from pain. Relaxation is one such natural pleasure and so is the opposite, excitement. I pursue pleasure and healing through breath, yoga, music and nature. Music is especially versatile and can be used to create both relaxation and excitement. In most people, endorphins are released in response to both pleasure and pain. Music and exercise have been found to increase endorphin levels along with other factors revealed here.

Reality is an interpretation. We choose. Does having tons of fun ….. sound like fun? Might enjoyment in and of itself increase abundance as demonstrated by having more health and money? Biologically, humans are wired to repeat behaviors that lead to pleasure. However this instinct can become blocked. By releasing constrictions in our innate pleasure instinct and learning the scientific principles of pleasure, we can broaden our enjoyment of life and increase our sensitivity. Recognizing that we have a measure of control over how we respond to pleasure is self empowering. The biological state of pleasure optimizes the human body to achieve its’ highest potential.

What is Pleasure? An Emotion or Feeling?

Scientist Hanna Damasio thinks that we need to discern between pleasure as an emotion and pleasure as a feeling. He sees emotions as physiological processes that guide behavior. Feelings on the other hand, arise as the brain experiences physiological processes and reflects upon them. Thinking allows us to metabolize and integrate feelings such as pleasure or pain and choose whether we want more or not. Brain research indicates some forms of pleasure are innate while other types are learned. We can increase what we enjoy and how much we enjoy it and thus reap the positive biochemical rewards.

What is happening within our bodies when we say we are feeling pleasure?
There are nerve fiber pathways in and around the limbic system of our brain which scientists call the brain's pleasure / reward circuit or system. When these neurons are stimulated, we experience what we call “pleasurable feelings”. The pleasure chemicals generated inside the body include endorphins and encephalins, a family of chemicals known as the opioids. These pleasure chemicals seem to activate a circuit deep inside the brain which overlaps with the dopamine system. Other bio-chemicals such as oxytocin are also involved in stimulating feelings of pleasure. It is speculated that the opioids circuit is the source of pleasure, while the dopamine system produces the feeling of desire. Studies indicate that desire may actually influence human behavioral activity even more so than receiving pleasure. Desire stimulates action whereas pleasure satisfies and quiets our searching. Interesting – huh?

Dr. Arthur Harvey’s is a music educator and researcher that I once took a workshop with. Dr. Harvey explores the connection between music, health, brain chemicals and intelligence. He created a website picture show which explains in simple terms the role of pleasure chemicals.

ENDORPHINS Key Points from

These factors increase the release of endorphins:
• Pain
• Stress
• Foods such as chocolate and chili peppers (capsaicin)
• Overexposure to the sun
• Exercise
• Laughter
• Music – sonic caffeine (or relaxant)

Maternal behavior, eating and drinking, and sexual activity have all been discovered to stimulate the release of these bio-chemicals. What these behaviors have in common is that they are all essential for the survival of the individual and the species. Scientists say that through natural selection, our bodies have developed ways to positively reinforce behaviors and activities which will help us survive! And only you know if your bio-chemicals are supporting or depleting your life experience….because only you know if your heart is beating in harmony and what brings you pleasure or not!
One of the pleasure chemicals - endorphins - are a panacea for producing both relaxation and excitement!

• Relieve pain
• Enhance immune system
• Restore stress levels
• Postpone aging process
• Modulate appetite
• Lower blood pressure
• Influences calm or euphoric state of mind

Ah-ha! If you have read about the benefits of meditation yet have not achieved such a peaceful, calm state, consider checking your pleasure chemical meter! Meditation, breath and mindfulness are easier to practice within the pleasure chemical-rich state. Doing so further enhance the relaxation response!

“The common denominator of all inducers of the relaxation response is an internal focus. Every time the mind wanders (and it will), bring your attention gently back to the focus point. Directing attention internally is the physiological opposite of directing attention to the outside world looking for danger. When attention is directed inward, your body receives messages that you are safe and secure and that it is appropriate to relax. So muscles relax, blood pressure drops, nerves are calmed, anxiety is decreased, immunity is heightened and healing is enhanced.”

Mary Pullig Schatz, M.D. in Back Care Basics

Releasing The Pleasure Instinct

The Three A’s - Attitude – Alignment – Action
The three A’s is a winning formula I learned from John Friend, founder of Anusara Yoga.

Our attitude - comprised of our intention and mood - moves through our intuitive neuron centers and that energy shapes our thoughts and that into our behavior and actions, the choices we make. Attitude aligns our thinking and steers the direction of our actions. If action goes askew, back up and check your alignment and attitude. If our attitude is towards achieving a greater state of harmony, we are more likely to choose a life rich in both relaxing and stimulating activities. Alignment ensures we stick to and support our own commitments.

What if our pleasure instinct became blocked due to external feedback when we were young? When parents or teachers criticize a child for finding enjoyment or expressing their joy and laughter, the child’s feeling state may become shut down. Later in life, the same person may feel like they are on mute, powerless, alienated or out of touch. In this depleted state the body moves in error moves towards pain and further disintegration. Our organic pleasure urges may still rise, but suppressive habits based on self protection can squash them back down. Repressed desire might only surface in dreams. The outside world, media for example, tend to reinforce the notion to not trust our instincts. We are told what to do and what to buy. Internal conflicts arise when the outside voices of authority do not match our organic instinct for pleasure. Guilt may result. Guilt is a big dampener of enjoyment. Internal conflicts and the shut down emotional state are a cause of depression, chronic fatigue and disease.

The Abundance of Flow

The giving and receiving of pleasure by instinct requires being in balance with energy, i.e. energy flows into us and we absorb it freely and gratefully. Joy bubbles up! When energy flows away from us, we give it gladly. When we feel abundant in pleasure we are able to give with less fear and clinging. Yoga is described as a state where the body, mind and heart are all focused in one place at one time. The practice of yoga enables the mind to become adept at focusing. To achieve any goal we need to be able to hold our direction and sustain momentum despite distractions. Achievement is pleasurable and self reinforcing. When our pleasure chemicals are high it supports vitality; we feel full and can release stress. The state of pleasure expands and is not limited to any one thing like licking ice cream. Reality is a perception and we can learn to take pleasure in small things and simple ways which leads to living an enchanted life. This is a state of being rich in abundant, creative possibilities!

Enjoy an Abundance of Pleasure with Breath and Singing!

I call my yoga practice WaveDancz Yoga Flow ( I include the pursuit of emotional fullness and healing through breath, postures, dance and music. Yoga means to Yoke. Here we yoke the body, mind and heart into one, whatever we do. I practice traditional yogic breathing techniques and have invented some of my own. Its fun! I practice singing from many cultures so I can keep my appreciation wide open. As with all learned pleasures, the more enjoyment is received through a singing or breath practice, the easier it is to keep doing it. With both singing and breath practice, oxygen increases. Cells, bones, glands, organs, the brain and all the systems of the body become refreshed.

I suspect that naturally induced pleasure via movement, breath or music helps to offset substance addiction. If one is really out of control with some sort of addictive patterns, self-esteem is undermined. Yogic-style breathing increases energetic flow and this arouses the five senses and stimulates the brain with out any caffeine or substances. Pleasure via breath is not dependent on manipulative action or technology or other people. Anyone stuck in obsessive behavior can find relief practicing breath or yoga techniques or through expanded musical adventures. It is quite possible to reverse negative tendencies and change addictive patterns by working on the root cause of being disconnected from our pleasure instinct. Imagination, intention, breath, voice, movement, dance and yogic postures – excellent tools!

The Pleasure Instinct and Abundance Tips

• Be patient. Best to not force circumstances. Accept what is first, then reshape as best you can.
• Allow pleasure to arise naturally. Effortless effort is a way to not do but not over do.
• The state of pleasure attracts more of that which is pleasurable. This is an abundance factor.
• Expand sensitivity and enjoy now as enough! An attachment to “expected” outcomes constricts the creative life force and projects us out of the present moment where our senses are felt.
• Forgive the past. Being fixated in the past separates thoughts from instincts thus distorting instinctive desire for pleasure. Forgive more if stuck in mix-ups and dramas of pain and entanglement
• Invite more love simply by asking others if they need help. An alive, open, loving heart helps us to balance our herd instinct. When the animal in us is confused it may seek to hoard or become overly aggressive in an effort to control circumstances to ensure personal survival.
• Be as a child, open to new adventures! Right now, look around your environment, hear what is going on, feel your body and your breath and take delight. Have fun pretending. Visualize, dream, experiment and play like a child whenever you can.
• A life rich in enjoyment is abundance! Remember that pleasure begets pleasure. As we learn to enjoy a wide variety of experiences, to appreciate relaxation and excitement, we grow. Yearning spawns new ideas. When our cup overflows, the joy of accomplishment comes.
• Pleasure satiation allows us to relax and be healthier, be positively reinforced and stay focused on our goals in life thus reducing pain, depression and stress.
• Fun is an access point into the NOW. When having fun we generally don’t want to mull over the past, plan revenge or project into future fantasies. Being awake to the present moment is fun!

Fun Spreads!
Remember, humans move instinctively towards pleasure and away form pain. Don’t fight nature! Nurture your nature. Your enjoyment and pleasure level is your own choice so take personal responsibility if you want more joy and happiness. Consider how radiating joy and fun is a gift that uplifts others. Don’t be discouraged if you are surrounded by grumps! Share yourself with children and pets; they are especially open to playfulness. By all means, strive to become a passionate and inspiring partner for your mate. Create extra joy at work or in the market. Fun is a high energy frequency which attracts more fun through the innate pleasure instinct and the principles of pleasure.

Access your share of pleasure – Activate “The Principle of Pleasure” – POP!
Giggle thrice and listen to the place where the MAGIC of NOW is singing…..

• POP into pleasure anytime
• POP is an access point for abundance
• POP is key to being vital and long lived
• POP develops inner freedom
• POP stimulates creativity
• POP invites the best in life
• POP optimizes performance
• POP dissolves resistance to learning
• POP unravels addictive habits
• POP increases one’s radiance and attractiveness
• POP allows us to give the most to others
• Master POP and master life as a fun adventure to savor!

Enjoy Pleasure Coupled with Loving Care

Playing with pleasure is like playing with fire. Learning to live with greater velocity requires an increase in responsibility and balance. High states of pleasure might dig up the opposite response, guilt. Our own inner gremlins lurking in the subconscious mind may rise. We don’t want to suppress our feelings so trust the diversity of your feelings and invite all of your self to the grand ball. Listen, love to your totality!

For a great book on the seven invitation to living fully in your heart read:
Setting Your Heart on Fire by Raphael Cushnir -

Life your life as a work of art! Make it so beautiful, its’ worth keeping, sharing and singing about!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

No Place to Go But Home - Natural Fatigue Relief

Real luxury begins inside, being able to take a break, rest our mind and let go of goals and expectations in life. Peace comes more from letting go and letting life flow than from any amazing feat or talent. Simply enjoying little things, like sun beams on a flower, birds chirping, the smell of dinner cooking or the feeling of freshly washed sheets, increases our sensitivity to the present moment. In the now is where our soul is ever expanding, expressing joy and dancing; it just takes stopping the mental chatter and tuning in. This is how I dip in, fill up with luxurious energy and restore myself.

Luxury is a Joy Interpretation
A feeling of being comfortable within, of being at home imparts a sense of luxury, of wellness and wealth. Our inner home, the source of who we are as pure being, is an ever expanding cosmic creative center – CCC - a place of pure peace out of which emanates all good things. The one who is watching the play of life is this state of pure being, the watcher and when our interpretation is that we are enjoying good and plenty, joy unfolds. Peace of mind begins a transformative moment, trust in who we are as pure being keeps us on purpose and joy completes the circle by charging up our energy batteries. Joy then replicates and creates yet more wonder and opportunity. Then need or grasping is not the cause of movement, joy is. When we swim with the current of life, we move naturally towards the experience of our inner home, day by day, stroke by stroke, we swim towards the luminosity of our pure being. This is how I learned to feel good in my own skin and grow healthier.

Growth, Expansion and Learning are Synonymous
Growth, expansion and learning are synonymous. All beings are swimming in the river of life and there is ultimately only one direction, evolution towards our cosmic creative center – CCC. However, if due to holding onto traumatic events in the past, we resist or act against our organic path of growth, we can spin our wheels and slow down our evolution. This resistance to growth, expansion and learning generally causes suffering and weakens our energy. This state of depletion takes many forms; we call it fear, anxiety, depression, disease and so on.

Growth is Easy - Resistance is Hard
We all have equal opportunity to surrender to our path of growth and make life easier. Growth is easy, resistance is hard. That which increases growth and harmony in the universe is supported by the universe and that support does indeed show up if we are ready and watching. Support feels good; it reminds us we are not isolated beings but all connected in a grand design. Light shines forth, maybe just a sparkle and sometimes a powerful presence is felt if we are open to receiving guidance and learning new stuff. Learning requires being able to endure our inadequacies plus asking tough questions and being radically honest in our self-discovery process.

Scientifically, it only takes seconds for our nervous systems to become agitated yet it takes twenty minutes or more of focused breathing and calm thinking to soothe the irritation. If peace is lacking, there is no mystery, we create the agitation by fighting and not accepting the now as okay enough. Wanting drives us crazy. The best route is to accept however life is showing up while intending for sunnier days. This acceptance is the beginning of the healing process. It saves us from energy drains and turns hard to easy. Again…..

1. Peace of mind begins a transformative moment
2. Trust in our self sustains and connects awakened moments in one easy flow
3. Joy completes the circle. We see our creativity causing wonder and opportunity.
4. Joy then replicates and gives uplifted energy for growth, expansion and learning.

Our luxurious mood in the moment, that we trust in how life is unfolding, that our growth is in keeping with our soul’s direction of expansion and that we are indeed learning new stuff, begin to disentangle our minds from the games that keep us stuck. At any point we can always spin the dial of our mood and point our little boat towards the light of our CCC – cosmic creative center. It is indeed far easier to move with the current of life than against it. Perhaps the light is like a suction, actually pulling us in.

The Delirious D’s
Say NO to the Delirious D’s – Denial, Distraction, Depression and Disease! We can disentangle from the feeling of depletion at any moment. We are free to change our mood and change our minds. However it is tricky. One way involves engaging in activities that pacify our minds or bodies yet do not produce vertical growth. Horizontal growth produces what looks like change on the outside but the inner patterns of limitation stay the same. These distracting activities can be habit forming, addicting. They appear to offer relief when actually they increase fatigue. Natural fatigue relief comes when we begin to recognize the work of the Delirious D’s in our life and say NO. In this moment we can choose new, more efficient ways of being less limited. The D’s work like this….

1. Denial – Resistance forms when we doubt and reject the current environment
2. Distraction – Activities to pacify frustration are selected rather than growth
3. Depression – Being cut off from our path of expansion causes an energy drain
4. Disease – Breakdowns in mental or physical biological functions emerge

Reconnecting to our creative font, where energy is always flowing in abundance is the natural way to relieve fatigue that is self-sustaining. We all are endowed with a creative genius within even though our greatness may be sleeping. The state of spiritual grogginess and self-denial, distraction, depression and disease attracts to us that which is also deficient; a grabby personality that dreams it is cut off and manipulates to survive under the pretty coverlets of many an ego mask. A gazillion stories in the world tell the tale of the downward descent into the Delirious D’s. Yet it is quite simple really and all the same ole tale of resisting the current back home into our cosmic creative center. There is no natural place to go but this home; all we need do is grow, expand and learn a little each day.

7 Steps to Natural Fatigue Relief
1. Remember - and believe in your own inner potential – we are vastly creative agents of growth, expansion and learning.
2. Flow - with the current by respecting and trusting how life is for you now.
3. Observe – Watch what increases flow or what inhibits it – our health tells all!
4. Focus – Discipline your path towards growth, expansion and learning.
5. Passion – Generate energy by resisting the tendency to defend your point of view. Be confident to express yourself yet allow others their own opinions.
6. Relationships – Be friendly to the happy, kind to the unhappy, admire the virtuous and practice detachment towards those who extend abuse or neglect.
7. Be Purposeful – Ask how can I help? Look for the greatest way to express your own creative genius each day. Produce good results and good feelings will follow.

Summarizing Motions
Say yes to peace and joy; say no to the Delirious D’s! Say yes to perfect health, financial abundance, joyous relationships and harmonious living. Say no to all forms of imprisonment and unnecessary limitation. Learn to recognize when it is time to move powerfully forward and when it is time to sit still. Grow in the direction of your soul’s course. Expand toward the expression of your creative genius and nothing less! Swim with all your might into your luminous cosmic creative center (CCC) where your heart feels love and rejoices in abundance. Cut a line in the sand of your mind and refuse to endure any mood that is less than luxurious! Be your own judge; consider the input from others but always spend time being sensitive to your inner voice. Take three breaths and be empty. Think about No-Thing. Walk outside, look at the sun, reach your arms high and grow skywards. Shake off the dust, sing a song, and generate energy! There is no place to go but home, so grow high, expand in energy and learn to be ever freer.