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!