The Female Body in PleasurePosted: February 28, 2014
I’m someone who grew up worrying that if I overindulged in pleasure, I could end up in a lot trouble. Since then, it’s been liberating to discover that letting myself feel deep pleasure in the body doesn’t mean I’m going to lose total control of my senses and A) get knocked up by accident, B) gorge myself so that I gain 50 pounds without noticing, or C) forfeit all responsibility and accountability to end up 1) flat broke 2) picking the worst possible husband or 3) choose any other dire situation that you can dream up.
It wasn’t until I started taking a subtle body movement class for women called The Tantric Dance of Feminine Power™ over 10 years ago that I began to think about pleasure differently. During that first class, the teacher instructed us to move our bodies in what she called the Breath-Stretch, a form of body-based meditation that prepares our bodies for the dance. The directions she gave was to allow a physical sensation of pleasure in any part of our bodies—an arm, a leg, a shoulder, or the rib cage— to create movement. We were to then wait for another sensation of pleasure to generate the next movement and then the next one and the next.
That first day, I spent an hour on my yoga mat trying to find this “pleasure sensation” that she was talking about with little success. If anything the exercise caused me tension, stress, and annoyance, and I seriously thought about asking for my money back. Who wanted to spend that much time searching inward for “pleasure” when I had a To-Do List for work waiting for me at home? Besides, what kind of pleasure was this, anyway? Give me a vibrator or a scoop of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream and be done with it already!
Still, I found myself continuing to come back for each class. I eventually learned how to recognize and experience these pleasure sensations that the teacher was talking about, and I started to let them move my body: the deliciousness that could be felt in my spine when I stretched my back like a cat, the relaxation and release from the tightness unwinding in my shoulders, the relief as the stiffness in my muscles dissolved, and and on and on.
Turns out that before, I’d just been skimming the surface of what pleasure can be and feel like. The female body’s capacity to open and let pleasure permeate is so much deeper than I could have imagined.
Learning how to open to pleasure in these different ways made me want to explore other kinds of pleasure in my life that I might have barely noticed before or had felt somewhat but never fully taken in: the way my boyfriend’s touch when he rubs my arm can feel as gentle as a feather; my own laughter ricocheting around my rib cage, inhaling the smell of my mother’s Chicken Adobo boiling in a pot; the internal rush I get when performing in front of an audience; and the way an orgasm can reverberate, emitting waves of energy up and down my body.
Contrary to what some religions and cultures still want us to believe, a woman who chooses to let go into pleasure is not some out of control creature at risk of ruining her life (or civilization). If anything, becoming attuned and receptive to feeling pleasure has made me more connected to my body, aroused my senses, and turned my mind lucid because I’m not up in my head all the time anymore. I’m more awake to the present moment, my instincts are sharper, and my judgment is clearer.
Clearly all the cautionary tales about what might occur if a woman lets go into pleasure do not exist to protect her or anyone else. They are there to reign her in. For a woman that thrums with pleasure is a woman unleashed in her body. Who knows what she might be capable of then.