Life is full of difficulty. Life is also full of pleasure. It is so easy to get stuck in our difficulties. They are big and persistent, and seem to make simple pleasure elusive and unavailable. When we are full of worry and tension we don’t notice the momentary pleasures that are a natural part of most days and that create the balance necessary for coping well with stressful lives.
— the enjoyment of wearing ones lightest layers and feeling the air caress ones skin before the heat rises
— gazing at lush green foliage
— feeling fresh after a shower
— feeling supple after a gym session
What are the momentary pleasures available to you?
Yes, they tend to be sensual, experienced in our bodies. Our worry on the other hand tends to live in our minds. So when we feel bound in a tense tangle of worry, doubt, dread, one can find healing and balance through re-focusing attention on a simple momentary pleasure.
Breathing helps. Breathing orients us to this present moment. All we have to do is become aware of our breathing and let our awareness move out from there.
All we have to do is become aware of tension and allow it to signal a need to breathe. On the in-breath we take in the fragrance and energy of something. On the out-breath we release. Riding the rhythm of breath we can relax and be receptive.
Animals seem to live in the moment more easily and naturally than humans. A deer grazes. It hears something that signals a need to be on the alert. It perceives a threat and runs. It stops, it perceives no threat. It quivers, shakes off its nervous tension. It puts its head down and continues to forage.
Human children are better at this than adults. Something hurts or frightens them. They cry. If a timely and reassuring response it forthcoming they settle. Their nervous system re-sets and they are again able to move happily into their world.
By the time we move into adulthood we have accumulated imprints – the energetic traces of painful experiences. We have learned to anticipate trouble. We have made decisions and formed beliefs about the nature of our reality. We don’t have an animal’s instinctive ability to shake off the energetic imprint of threat, and the remnants of disturbance held in our muscles. How we hold our experience in our minds is not as malleable as when we were children. Most of us need to re-learn how to re-set and relax, to become once again available to natural pleasure.
We can weather stressful experiences and periods in life better if we know to breathe, to go with the flow, to use momentary opportunities to relax and re-set. It can be as easy as taking in the beauty and fragrance of a flower, or responding to a child’s smile, or laughing at something funny.
Unfortunately many of us have learned to associate taking a break from what’s challenging in life with consuming alcohol or sugar or getting high. We look for pleasure in these things because we no longer know how to be available to it in other ways. We hold our breath to avoid feeling rather than using it to release, to return to balance and a sense of well-being.
Trust your breath. Take a moment to let yourself breathe fully and deeply. Let yourself notice how you experience that. Take frequent conscious breathing breaks. Conscious breathing can help you process what is difficult. It can restore you to balance and well-being.
Wendy Ball, M.Ed., is a shamanic energy healer, coach and mentor. She offers individual sessions by phone or skype. You can get more information about her work at. She welcomes questions by email: , or phone: 518-813-8524