The advantages of age are – that with less time to waste and less energy, but more wisdom about who we each of us really are – we can stop our various beliefs and strategies for people pleasing and settle down to the vital task of allowing ourselves to really enjoy this gift of life.
When I was a child, I saw that the adults around me were miserable and serious. ‘Everybody hates it, nobody likes it, you just HAVE to do it’ was regularly said by my well-intentioned mother.
I didn’t understand. I saw their sadness, and I knew, without doubt, that there was more. More to living and more to life. More to hope for, enjoy and relish. More to live for…
It was the 70s and our house was full of burnt orange wallpaper and dark heavy wood furniture. A ceramic chicken in the kitchen for eggs, fur coats in the hallway cupboard, and Benny Hill on the TV.
The atmosphere a confusing mix of post-war grief, misogyny, female empowerment, passionate love and systemic hatred. What a place for a sensitive, sensual, spiritual girl!
Out in the garden, I was in contact with everything, in deep sensual relationship with the huge willow tree and pine trees, the purple rhododendrons, dark earth, fields of yellow flowers reaching up to the horizon, and the big blue sky.
My fingers trailed textures, tree bark and metal railings, my nose was curious and I dreamt of the muscly bodies of half-naked young builders next door and roomfuls of naked people.
Those words intended kindly to protect, imprisoned me. ‘All men are only after one thing, don’t give it to them.’ And a critical judgment of my essentially wild and free true nature.
Like many others, I took it upon myself to heal those around me, sacrificing myself in an attempt to help. The soul movement of a child trying to assist. Willing to disappear herself, if her very existence on earth – was a challenging disturbance to those she loved. And needed.
There are many ways to tell a story. There are many aspects and influences on a life. I can speak of ancestral burdens and birth trauma, being bullied and great loneliness, a series of teenage and young adult breakdowns, living abroad, travelling and returning back to London.
Despite all the great difficulty – the deep dark night of the soul – I was incredibly focused and determined to retrieve my true self and live that. I always knew I would one day write a book. And had an internal sense of my big potential and destiny. I was prepared to invest almost all my time, energy and money to become that. I had a tremendous drive to heal.
I visited shamans and teachers, gurus and therapists of this and that, focused on ancestors and sex, blood and bones; energy, chakras and inquiry; I learnt to change physical pain into physical pleasure with my breath; to align cranium, spine and pelvis; to clear parasites from my blood; recover from chronic fatigue; I was lost and found again in very many different ways.
I come from a family of healers and spiritual seekers and bring with me ‘organic energy’ from their spiritual adventures. Something one of my spiritual teachers described as ‘having enough fuel to make the journey.’
Over the decades I was first a client and then a therapist and then a workshop leader. Slowly evolving, exploring and sharing the edges between self-criticism and self-acceptance, traumatic disassociation and embodiment, stress and relaxation, pain and pleasure.
And always, my theme has been the same. My life-long love of the mystery, real sensual relationships and the body.
They say you teach best what you most need to learn!
In my twenties I wrote the first part of the book, a raw emotional rant, knowing that when once I was healed and evolved, I would one day write the second part. That is how it happened. One poem from that first draft made it into the final book.
A few years ago, around 50, I wrote the second part of the book. The words poured out of me, passionate and clear. A co-creation with Life. A pleasurable process.
I’m thrilled it’s been so well-received. ‘Lively and uplifting’ ‘fun and engaging’ ‘highly recommended, impressively well-written’ ‘a real treasure trove of reflections and practices to enrich our lives’ reviewers said. A manual for happiness, relationships and being human.
So what is it that have I written about Pleasure that is so fun, original and interesting?
I wrote what my heart knows and wants to share.
The book is a guided journey from mess to magic, into what I call the Universe of Deliciousness. A realm of delight hidden just beneath the surface of rushed ordinary everyday life, that is available to everyone to discover, without discrimination or expense.
Pleasure is not just a reward when we are exhausted, a sweet treat to revive or stimulate us. Pleasure is not something selfish. And not just something that we get from the outside, from other people or things. Pleasure arises within our body and life experience. It is ours! Pleasure is our essential nature, a vital source of nourishment, and the way that life can be.
Pleasure cannot exist without its counterpart pain. The journey to receiving more pleasure is the deep journey below the level of survival, to facing our fears and opening up to really feeling. It is the journey out of our heads, busyness and non-stop doing, and into the sensate, sensitive, somatic territory of our vulnerable powerful bodies — and our very right to exist – and take up space – and enjoy our own lives!
I’m not interested in the fake version of pleasure (used to sell stuff to us by monetising our own repressed desires) but in the innate natural state of pleasure, we can cultivate for ourselves – whether that’s in an encounter, relationship or moment. A taste of deliciousness.
None of us are without complication in the area of sexuality and relating. Few of us were given positive clear messages and role-models. Yet we can transform our experience of pleasure by bringing our fullest kind attention to ourselves and others, by allowing ourselves to receive goodness, by grasping with both hands the fullness of the gifts of life.
Our bodies are the location of our life experience, the source of both our pleasure and our wisdom. Our lifelong human task, is to undo all of the unhelpful messages and conclusions, to return home to ourselves, to being able to be fully in the body and in all of our life.
All of life is sexual. Every moment is a potential exchange of information and sensation. We are all physically wired for pleasure and deeply entitled to enjoy this our precious time on earth. With kindness, respect, breath, sensitivity, happiness and joy. Pleasure is for all of us.
We can increase the pleaureableness of our experience by travelling a pathway from our mess to our magic, through the practical paradigm-shifting ‘medicines,’ 7 sequential steps through Slow, Body, Depth, Relationship, Pleasure, Power and Potency. There are many small practical tweaks we can make for ourselves that will allow more pleasure in, to imbue our days and lives. Try interrupting old habits with productive pauses, sensing your physical body, dropping into humility, creating healthy relationships, relishing your sensuality, allowing your authentic confidence to shine and accessing your own inner wisdom.
Pleasure is an inside job. There is much we can do to enhance our life experience. I guess I’ve written what I wish someone with a big hug had told me when I was younger. We are none of us alone. We all can, with the right resources, heal ourselves. Life is for fully living!
The book can be purchased online from Amazon, WHSmiths, Waterstones, Book Depository, Blackwells and is in many independent bookshops. A direct link to the book on Amazon is bit.ly/HPoPLUK
My website is www.UniverseOfDeliciousness.com
I look forward to connecting with you on social media:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/2438716336148629 (Power of Pleasure Community)
A conversation with Julia Paulette Hollenbery and Monique Roffey in North London on June 8th at 7pm in West End Lane Bookshop – All welcome, please book your ticket, £5 includes wine and is redeemable buying the book! https://www.welbooks.co.uk/events
A Greek Island Retreat, The Healing Power of Pleasure, June 11th – 18th, bit.ly/SkyrosHPoPI