My complete pleasure is a myth... no longer.
For too long, I believed my pleasure to be real and complete, when it was actually fragmented. It was partial. Not integrated or whole. Here is a piece of this story, from fragmented fucks to holistic pleasure.
Picture a sex scene. A decent sex scene in a film. You know.. the sex is presented as wild and overwhelmingly orgasmic. There's heavy breathing and moaning and wetness and all the good things. But on some level, it's pretentious and performative.
In much of my past, that used to be me. I used to have sex in ego, with partners also in ego. And fear. I tend to explain this by saying that my heart and my genitals were disconnected. I remember having that realisation and it hitting me hard and painfully. The lie I believed, was that my body's physical signs of pleasure and arousal (things like orgasm for example) translated to an enthusiastic YES all round. Outwardly, all the signs of perfect, delicious sex were there. I swore my pleasure was at the forefront of my hedonistic endeavors.
I eventually learned this to be an incomplete notion. Sex and pleasure are far bigger and wider and broader and richer than our bodies saying 'yum'. (In fact, if you look up 'arousal non-concordance' you will get a whole bunch of info on how our bodies sometimes say 'yum' when the rest of us aren't.) Now don't get me wrong. I still want my body to say yum. But I no longer interpret my body's arousal queues as the only sign that all of me is 'in the experience.' And I *want* all of me in the experience. By all of me, I'm talking about the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual parts of myself moving together and being in flow.
I'd like to get specific on how this looks and what kinds of actions are likely to create that kind of flow. I could paint a picture of a different sex scene but to be honest, I can't possibly describe it. It changes shape entirely. The acts that bring holistic pleasure are amorphous and dynamic. Even when narrowed down to the (still incredibly broad) term 'sex'.
But here are some qualities which I have personally discovered to be components of holistic pleasure:
When my body is enthusiastically consenting, my skin warms and gets hyper-sensitive, I move more, I get aroused and crave more touch. When my heart is in enthusiastic consent it sings a 'yes' by feeling open and warm and I experience a sense of trust, connection and safety. I feel like my body and my feelings are taken into account in the experience of holistic pleasure. When these parts are in agreement and harmony, my head makes sure I'm not too high to miss any important things like safe sex supplies or scheduled disruptions. It gives the all clear. Then I have a fully rounded yes. This is the platform that holistic pleasure springs from.
Humour and Playfulness
Not taking yourself too seriously is important because a huge element of pleasure comes from childlike creative joy and playfulness. Children naturally are drawn to doing whatever is most fun for them in the moment. They're less focussed on what the instruction manual says you 'should' do. Being playful can relieve anxiety and tension and create greater trust. It's okay to appear foolish. It's okay to laugh because you made a mistake and it's okay to be silly and have fun. Dropping the 'mysterious sultry and sexy' persona is a great start to actually being more open to deep arousal.
Mindfulness and Full Body Awareness
It's so easy to get carried away with 'doing' and lose sight of 'being', even during sex. Mindfulness is a way of gently noticing the sensations in all of the body or different parts at a time. This can be honed incredibly carefully to the point that pleasure increases so intensely that even just focussing on the way it feels to have one small part caressed, becomes orgasmic. There is so much information coming into our bodies through our skin as well as the senses other than touch. What does this person smell like? How do they taste? How is it to play with the delicate hairs on this part of their body? What do I notice in myself when I feel pressure/lightness/pain/licking here?
Transforming the way we have sex takes time. It requires practice and time to rewire old patterns. But more than this, the actual experience of holistic pleasure often includes time. Slowness, pacing or not rushing things. Why rush things when you could experience pleasure for longer?
Non-Goal Oriented Exploration and Curiosity
There are many types of orgasm and ways to orgasm, though this is often not spoken about. And there is much pleasure to be had outside of this also. The mainstream model of sex largely follows the same steps, which work up to the ultimate climax. Emphasis is on doing the things which will allow this release to happen. I prefer to put emphasis on learning. There is so much to discover! How do these testicles move with arousal? What happens when I bite this earlobe? What do all the parts of this body look like and how do they interact with each other and with my various parts? I find that bringing a sense of curiosity and wonder into sex, relaxes the pressure of needing to reach a destination and everyone is far more likely to enjoy the journey.
Vulnerability and Emotional Awareness
This is something that takes more practice and courage than most things, but the rewards are worth it. Being aware of how things feel on the inside and not just the outside is important for knowing what really feels good. And being able to share that, creates connection. And connection creates pleasure. One of the biggest barriers to pleasure is shame. Dr Brene Brown who has written extensively on this subject says: 'If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.' Think about about how much more receptive to pleasure people are when their fears of not being (thin/strong/sexy/skilled...) enough are put to rest.
Sound and Breath
According to the tantrica and ex porn star Annie Sprinkle Phd, : 'The single most important key to sex... is conscious rhythmic breathing.' There are so many ways to use breathing and sound to alter ones experience. I recommend exploring this in greater depth! Put simply though, remembering to breath deeply, keeps you present, relaxed and increases oxygen levels in the blood (which help immensely with arousal). Increased blood flow will increase sensitivity to touch and make your brain more capable of releasing serotonin. From a focus on breath, sounding is a natural progression. And oh the sounds one can make. Unbridled pleasure is rarely silent. Making sound helps energy move and also gives feedback to whoever you are playing with. Using sound and breath in holistic pleasure experiences makes us more receptive and expressive. Try it.
Living a Holistically Satisfying Life
There's no point trying really hard to get it right in an intimate setting when you're suffering of boredom and apathy in general. The best way to have delicious meaningful pleasure is to expand that into *all* of life. How are your basic needs? Do you exercise, eat and sleep well? Do you have a creative outlet or spiritual path? Are your social needs being satisfied? How self loving are you? Does your work and home life bring you joy? When is the last time you sat in the sun or looked at the moon? Getting this stuff sorted is far more important than most people think. Everything is connected. If you're stressed at work constantly and eating junk food, your capacity to experience pleasure is diminished. Take a step back and look at the big picture. Get help in areas you need it. Personal responsibility is key here. We can craft a pleasurable life for ourselves, with some focus and patience.
There is a lot that goes into holistic pleasure and I would certainly say that it takes more effort than you need for a fragmented fuck. But I would also say that the result is a happier life, overall. Rather than running from one happy chemical hit to the next, holistic pleasure seeps into the core of you and spreads out like a personal sun. It radiates. Before you know it, you're attracting other people who are also radiating and your world looks a whole lot brighter.
If you need some assistance on how to live a more holistically pleasurable life, I offer holistic counselling in person in Melbourne, AUS and via Skype and Zoom. I'm also happy to give you recommendations on other amazing professionals or resources that might be useful. Hit the contact tab
Image credits in order: Artist unknown, 'Temperance' from 'Wolff's Cartomancy' by Bianca Wolff, Paintings by Bianca Wolff and photo copyright Christine Dengate featuring shibari by Mo Latin and modelling by Bianca Wolff