The Calm Before the Pleasure Explosion: What to Do When You’re Pushing Against an Edge

The Calm Before the Pleasure Explosion: What to Do When You’re Pushing Against an Edge

Did you know that #teamMDS has a resident Pleasure Sorceress? If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you already know – that’s me!

The team bestowed that title on me because of my commitment to learning from pleasure, finding the pleasure in the painful moments, and allowing others to recognize and emphasize how pleasure plays a role in their own growth.

All of this means I’m constantly exploring the edges of my own relationship with pleasure and how I prioritize it on my personal growth journey. (I call this the Pleasured Path.)

We’re used to learning from pain. Life is so full of difficult, painful moments that we immediately try to find the meaning: “There must be a lesson in here. There must be something I can do with this pain.” The pain has to be “worth it.”

There is tremendous power in pleasure, and the potential for growth and healing within it is almost inconceivable.

I know this because I’ve spent the last two or three years exploring the depth, breadth, and potential of choosing the pleasured path through conversations, observing my own experiences, and even looking into scientific research.

It turns out that learning from pleasure is tricky because it’s so outside of what we’re used to.

When something amazing and magical happens to us, we don’t think, “There must be a lesson here. There must be something I can do with this pleasure.” Not only do we not think the pleasure has to be “worth it,” we rarely think it’s worth much of anything at all.

Instead, there are so many ways we ignore or bypass the pleasure. We don’t even stick around long enough to ask what the pleasurable experience taught us because we’ve moved on to gratitude or calm or finding the meaning in the next painful moment.

It’s also uncommon for us to do something simply because it feels good. And this, I realized recently, is where my current edge is.

Even knowing how much value there is in choosing pleasure, even with all the research and anecdotal evidence – I was still afraid of fully trusting pleasure, exploring, and deepening pleasure in my own life.

I was still getting caught up in the old stories I had about pleasure being frivolous, play being pointless, and success being meaningless if it did not come from suffering and sacrifice.

Given how much darkness has surfaced recently all around us, I suppose it was natural for me to reconnect with those stories in such a big way. And yet, moving through all this darkness requires an even stronger commitment to the light. How can we return to the light if we forget or refuse to acknowledge that it’s there?

So now what? What can we do when we see that we’re pushing against a personal edge in our growth and development?

Usually we know we’re at an edge because things start to feel uncomfortable around that particular area of our life. Perhaps it’s earning more money, receiving more love and attention in a relationship, or simply how we experience something in our lives – like me with pleasure.

These are often the areas where we do the most “work” in our personal development, and while they can leave us feeling frustrated (“Didn’t I do this already? Haven’t I been here before?”), there’s usually pure magic on the other side of it. I’ve started to think of it as the calm before the pleasure explosion, because, why not?

I’ve identified three key things I love turning to when I’m pushing against an edge. These three steps keep me feeling empowered along my pleasured path.

  1. Get to the core of what’s happening – no matter how ugly or painful it might be. In order to grow through any edge, you need to become clear about what’s going on. Why is it an edge? Where is the opportunity to connect more deeply with yourself and your truth? What stories have you wrapped up in this area of your life? For me, freewriting and EFT/Tapping are the most powerful tools to get to the bottom of all of this. Both of these have the ability to provide an easy access point to reveal all the crap festering inside of you. Once you’re clear on what’s going on, you can move on with more confidence and clarity.
  2. Say yes to any opportunity that gently pushes against that edge. Usually, once you’ve come up against an edge, opportunities that push you even more into it start to pop up naturally. This is happening so that we can choose a new way forward and grow through whatever that edge is. So, if earning more money is the edge, a new opportunity might manifest that causes you to say, “This feels amazing and so fun! But how on earth will this work?!” In my experience, saying yes provides the opening you need to explore the “how.”
  3. Stay curious and open… and keep choosing pleasure. Everything happens in layers, of course, so it’s not as simple as, “Well, I learned that lesson forever. Go me, I’m done!” I’ve found that if we approach every experience as a learning opportunity and approach things with childlike curiosity rather than judgment, we open ourselves up to a more pleasurable and impactful experience. In that way, we can honor our growth and continue to expand as easily and naturally as possible.

Is there an edge you’ve been coming up against lately? I’d love to hear how you deal with these growth opportunities.

And, if one of your edges has been affected by all the tumult of this year, be sure to check out our upcoming online event, Turning Darkness to Light: Shifting the Pain & Suffering of the World When You’re Only One Person. It’s going to open you up to the magic and power within you in a beautiful, supportive, and pleasurable way. 😉

How to Cure Your Emotional Hangover

How to Cure Your Emotional Hangover

It’s an interesting time right now, not just in the United States, but also around the world. Our collective crap is being dug up and brought out for us to see, and it’s happening so blatantly and powerfully, that we can no longer ignore it’s there.

It is far easier to ignore our own deep, deep wounds, our own darkness, our own anger that builds and never gets felt and expressed and released. Even when it’s hurting us, it’s easy to ignore.

Because it’s not pretty or comfortable. Because we tell ourselves we are supposed to be positive and jump straight to that, instead of feeling something we have been taught is negative (even if it’s not).

Then, when it shows up as children crying in pain and fear in Aleppo, as confusion over Brexit, or as Confederate flags and swastikas popping up overnight on November 9, it becomes much harder to turn away.

You might have even had your own personal rock bottom, your own turning point following something too big to ignore: your child’s death, a devastating breakup, being diagnosed with a chronic illness.

And so, this is not a political post; it is an invitation.

As I sat down to write this blog post, my head and heart were suddenly flooded with the questions I’ve learned to ask myself when things are confusing, when I’ve lost touch with myself, when I’m scared or in pain, or simply when my spiritual posse – my teachers, guides, angels, and higher self – nudges me forward, inviting me to reunite with the Truth.

I offer these up to you now and trust they will serve you somehow.

Perhaps one or two of them will resonate deeply and stay with you for years to come. Perhaps they’ll remind you of a long-forgotten truth, something you knew as a child and thought (or was told) was wrong. Perhaps your own spiritual posse will swoop in with questions truer to you.

Lean in and trust whatever feels best for you.

Here are some of my favorite questions to turn to for growth, deeper love, and reunion with my truest self.

Where is my body? Where is my breath?

Inevitably, even when it takes a few seconds longer than I anticipate, the answer to this is, “My body is here, my breath is here.” This has done wonders for bringing me back to the present moment, calming my nervous system, and reminding me that I can always count on myself. I say it constantly – sometimes several times in an hour.

What’s here for me?

There is always an opportunity or lesson available, even amid confusion or chaos. This is the simplest way for me to explore that, and it helps me remain curious, which is one of the best ways to live life.

Who do I choose to be in this moment?

It’s amazing what happens when I get quiet, tune into my heart, and ask myself this question. The answers are diverse (some recent ones include: “someone who feels her feelings,” “powerful and tender,” “a woman who knows her strength,” “someone who realizes how silly I’m being and can laugh out loud at herself”), and they always invite me to reframe my situation, go deeper into the truth of who I am, and surrender more bravely into whatever is happening.

What does little me have to say about this?

There’s a lot of wisdom in the young versions of ourselves, whether it’s through our memory of who we were or by connecting to our own inner child. When I need to simplify things, loosen up, understand a deep fear, or embrace the courage and curiosity of a child, this question takes me straight there.

Remember, what grows in the dark is still growing. Whatever is festering inside of you or around you is asking to be seen.

It is when we meet it, embrace it, and move through it into the light that we can find wholeness and relish in the miracle of being alive. Whether you get there through prayer, a specific practice, working with a mentor, or simply asking yourself some questions, I invite you to dive in and do the work.

How to Use Celebration to Create Forward Momentum

How to Use Celebration to Create Forward Momentum

For the last few years, I have relied heavily on the power of celebration to honor my growth and give me a big boost of forward momentum.

At first, it was in large part a means of survival, because things felt so draining and awful that I needed to celebrate every little bit of goodness. I would use the last couple of dollars in my bank account to buy a McFlurry and accompany it with a dance party because, hey, I was still alive and healthy enough to delight in a tasty treat! Definitely cause for celebration!

Have you ever been in that position? When just getting out of bed in the morning feels like it deserves a parade?

In the last few months, though, I lost my spark.

Even though things are now much better in my life in so many ways, I went from celebrating almost everything to not really celebrating anything at all.

Sure, I would feel good about my accomplishments, and I’m still eager to celebrate others. But the days of celebrating the mere fact that I was alive were long gone.

I somehow didn’t notice how far away I had become from that version of myself.

It was only last week, when a friend of mine told me how much she loves my ability and willingness to celebrate that it hit me: I couldn’t remember the last time I truly celebrated myself or my life.

Why is it that we’re so quick to skip the moment of reflection, honor, and celebration? Why do we jump straight to the list of everything that’s gone wrong, the goals we haven’t accomplished, or the money we haven’t paid back?

What I realized is that any time we stop ourselves from celebrating, we stop ourselves from truly connecting to our souls and the fullness of our human experience.

When you’re truly connected to yourself, it’s easier to see how far you’ve come on your path. This is true for external things like promotions, weddings, and career changes, and it also includes personal growth.

You know that moment when you realize that something that used to trigger you no longer does? Or when you’ve finally forgiven someone and you feel lighter because of it?

Those are truly magical moments, and they’re totally worth celebrating!

Now that this is in my awareness, I’ve decided to recommit to celebration. Here are four ways you can recommit, too: 

  • At the end of each day, find at least one thing worth celebrating. Then, have a dance party or treat yourself to something delicious or say a prayer of gratitude or do whatever feels good and celebratory!
  • Take someone out to lunch (or dinner, or coffee) any time you’ve reached a major milestone in your work. Recently, my podcast crossed 10,000 downloads, and now I owe somebody a meal!
  • Acknowledge your personal growth. Another year of sobriety, saying yes to a mastermind, gracefully moving through a trigger – whatever it is, tell someone right away and ask them to celebrate with you. My best friend and I used to send each other a photo of someone we deemed “the happiest man alive,” and the new iMessage effects give you lots of fun options. You can keep it simple while still savoring the energy of celebration!
  • Big moments deserve big celebrations. Don’t be afraid to take a day off of work or throw yourself a dinner party for accomplishing something truly magical!

I guarantee that your life is worthy of celebration. I know that because you’re alive and you’re reading this.

What are you going to celebrate today? Comment below or in our Soulful Brilliance Facebook group and share with us! We’d love to hear.

 

How to Feel Confident in the Unknown

How to Feel Confident in the Unknown

One feverish, sweaty night. Two hours of sleep. A racing mind, heart and body that, despite physical and emotional exhaustion, won’t let me sleep.

When I finally awoke this morning, exhaustion immediately set in and my body begged for more sleep, but my daily responsibilities and soul were calling me to get up, so I rose.

My first thought of the day?

Damn. What a message from the universe.

My mind began connecting the dots, the way you see lines connect the stars in a constellation, creating a meaningful shape and symbol in the night sky. While I don’t understand the image before me yet, I am clear that something shifted inside me the night before.

I’ve been going through some major transformations – emotionally, physically, spiritually – and it’s all making me feel a little off kilter.

I was just starting to feeling like I “had it all figured out.”

As my mind began connecting the dots, our posts from the last few weeks popped into my awareness. We talked about planning (from our pleasure sorceress) and how to use confusion as a tool for growth.

But the truth? No number of tips in the world help us avoid the unknown in our lives; it’s a necessity for us. It’s a necessity for our growth and journey.

Yet, it’s really fucking uncomfortable.

The commonalities and parallels that you can experience when you’re amidst it all can make it hard to access the most basic core feelings we can easily tap into on a typical day.

But we’re in the journey, what can we do?

How can we feel into the unknown without being absolutely terrified? How can we sit in the unknown with confidence? How can we muddle around in the unknown without losing our identity? How can we have an identity when we feel we have no self-definition to claim?

  1. Reminder: you’re made of many layers.
    Remember to not isolate each individual behavior as a judgment for your whole human. While this doesn’t mean shy away from holding yourself accountable, it does mean give yourself the benefit of the doubt.Being made of many layers means you’re always discovering new things about yourself. Don’t yourself for those things; just get curious. Ask yourself what a behavior is about, especially if it’s an old bad habit or something “out of character.”
  2. Drop into your body.
    When you’re amidst it all, don’t fight it! Drop into your body and feel & swim with the unknown. Hey, it might be uncomfortable at first. It’s like not being able to see the bottom of the ocean you’re swimming in – you have NO idea what’s down there.Drop into your body and check in with yourself about the unknown. Does it feel scary? Safe? Exciting? What’s at the core of the unknown? Journaling or just sitting with the feeling will help you get acquainted with it once you can get past the judgment.
  3. Don’t stop living!
    Often when we experience the unknown surrounding us, it makes us question everything going on. It feels similar to an existential identity crisis, because you thought you had things all previously figured out.Don’t let the unknown shake you to your core. Instead, live alongside it and go about your day. Treat it like a new companion. This will help you remember that you haven’t lost your identity! You’re just going through a transformation, and the unknown is there to aid you through the process.

And hey, we get it: this shit isn’t easy.

We’re constantly doing the work, getting vulnerable and having conversations we don’t expect to be having or even want to have.

My own lack of sleep and panicked, racing thoughts last night were all just the universe trying to tell me not be afraid to voice how I’m feeling: Scared to leave my comfort zone.

Because there’s so much happening in my life – can I pull this off? A full-time business? A sick cat being taken care of by friends? Multiple launches and responsibilities on my shoulders? And spending time with family?

To be honest, I still don’t know if I can pull it off.

But it’s less scary now that I’ve said it out loud. I’m going about my day. I feel more at rest (even though I’m exhausted from lack of sleep). I still have no clue if I can do it, but I’m feeling better.

No one is asking you to be comfortable in the discomfort, but you don’t have to lose yourself in the process of expansion and transformation.

You’re still you. Beautiful. Evolving.

You’re just experiencing some growth.

How to Handle Moments of Disconnection From Your Truth

Our egos can do a really great job at convincing us we are separate and disconnected from others. It’s what lets us slip so deeply into heartache, loneliness, feelings of not being seen, financial frustration, disillusionment, day-to-day overwhelm, and even bigger bouts of depression and anxiety.

In moments of pure inspiration and love, we know this is total bullshit. But how can we remember that when everything feels like it’s falling apart?

This is what I was contemplating recently as I struggled to integrate that massive expansion I had in Peru at MDS’ Become Retreat. It seemed like everywhere I turned, there was a door shutting in my face. I was longing for opportunities to reconnect with my greatness and felt like all I was getting was a series of, “nope, you’re not good enough; you’ll never receive this desire.”

In the past, this might have led to a downward spiral of shame. I might have lashed out or numbed out.

What happened instead reminded me of how far I’ve come in my evolution:

1. REFRAMED. I started reframing some of the things happening to me through a lens of love. For instance, instead of panicking about the various commitments I have on deck for August, I thought to myself, “I have so much love in my life! So many people to support and spend time with!”

Yes, sometimes it can feel false to go there, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes and the more you truly believe it.

2. SUPPORTED OTHERS. I made sure I was of service. I remembered how good it feels to support others through my work, and I allowed myself to do just that. I replied to emails from my clients asking for help and I offered it up willingly and lovingly. When you don’t think you can give love to yourself, it definitely feels powerful and good to give it to others.

3. TOOK A BREAK. I gave myself permission to take a break. Not a numbing break or one that made me ignore what I was going through; but one that made me reconnect with my heart.

For me, watching this season of So You Think You Can Dance fills me with tremendous life, awe, and love. When I view it with that intention, I’m able to get grounded again and remember that life is a miracle. It might seem like a big leap from watching kids dance hip hop to experience life as a miracle, but that’s what it does for me every time I let it.

I can’t lie and say that these three steps made everything feel like rainbows and roses again, but maybe that isn’t always what we need. Maybe sometimes all we need is to make it to the next moment, to keep stepping forward and remembering that we are still alive, and that’s an amazing gift in and of itself.

It’s in these small moments that we can renew ourselves and remember that life is worth living.

And as long as we remember that often enough throughout a seemingly bad day, there can be joy and lightness and connection.