I’m not gonna lie – running this #mypleasurepractice, a 7-day mini course on trauma-informed pleasure, while the rise of Neo Nazism and blatant White Supremacy gets a spotlight shone on it feels… challenging.
What’s the point of pleasure when the world is in flames?
Who cares about Turn On when the KKK is marching in the streets?
I mean, really.
It’s a double bind between…
I MUST PRIORITIZE THE MOVEMENT. I MUST PUT MYSELF LAST.
I DON’T HAVE THE ENERGY TO PRIORITIZE THE MOVEMENT. I CAN’T STAY ENGAGED.
All-or-nothing physiological experiences are the trademark of double binds (and trauma). A dance between hyper-arousal and hypo-arousal.
…and ‘pleasure’ is an antidote to both.
But before I get into what pleasure in times of terror is all about…
Back to our embodied emergency responses:::
>>Hyper-arousal says I MUST MUST MUST PROTECT, FLEE, DEFEND OR FREEZE IN ORDER TO STAY SAFE.
>>When that gets too exhausting to sustain (and it ALWAYS gets too exhausting to sustain, eventually), hypo-arousal says I CAN’T KEEP GOING. I’M SO INCREDIBLY D-O-N-E.
And this is where disengagement happens, on a deep embodied level. Depression, chronic fatigue, chronic illness, etc.
Hypo-arousal can be more difficult to recover from on an embodied and emotional level, just like a more sustained injury takes longer to heal.
So when we notice ourselves in the hyper-arousal SPEED of MUST MUST MUST, it’s a sustainable service to everyone to check in with your body and ask it, ‘What’s your wisdom? If you were in charge, what would you have me do?’ And follow it.
It could look like breaking something.
Or gathering close with the people you love.
Or spending 3 minutes laying on the floor doing nothing.
Listening to your embodied wisdom, and aligning to it deeply is the FOUNDATION of pleasure, the root chakra of power.
This kind of deeply attuned, deeply listening pleasure can ease and/or EMPOWER embodied fear.
>>When we soothe & distract from our fear (momentarily, not forever) by doing things that feel supportive and nurturing to our bodies, we build capacity to go back into the emergency with more presence and high-level problem-solving (like, literally, our brains function with higher cognitive capacity after we’ve given them a rest from the crazy… go figure).
>>Or, when we address our fear head on (re: impart legal boundaries, stand strong at counter-protests, etc), and then rest and digest from the intense experience, we transform the fear into power. (Sometimes. Other times, if the experience of exerting our fight/flight isn’t successful, it can feel like compounded trauma. UGH! – More about this in tomorrow’s Part 2 post.)
So. Amidst our cultural trauma spell (that’s experienced in various ways depending on your unique place in the spread of privilege/systems of oppression)… how do we unwind from the double bind and stay in the game?
How do we build our capacity to be with intensity, ride the waves, respond powerfully, retreat accordingly, lead, create, defend, protect and cultivate health… even in times of terror?
Embodied wisdom is a big part of it.
Asking, what am I experiencing in my body?
Look for variety, not just emergency.
Some expansion? Some contraction? Speed? Slowness? Fear? Predictability?
Look for the both-and of emergency and predictability, speed and slow, motion and stillness, not just the cray… take some time to notice how these things co-exist.
And then exhale.
Ask: If my body had an impulse, where would it guide me to go? What would it guide me to do?
Follow this wisdom.
Rinse & repeat.
This is part 1 to pleasure in times of terror.
Cultivate the personal power to self-regulate your physiology as best you can.
Part 2? SOLIDARITY.
That post is coming tomorrow.
Because individuated solutions will NEVER EVER EVER be big enough to topple or transform systemic problems.
Togetherness is mission critical.
Okay, love y’all.