Feeling good feels bad

embodiment nervous system pleasure trauma Jan 14, 2024

One day I’ll write a sitcom about all the ways we start meditations, yoga, breathwork, and all these pseudo esoteric practices. ‘Take a moment. Settle in. Find your breath. Notice what is rising. Notice any constriction….’. One day I will, but for now I want to talk about something else. Side note: I actually really value these practices, but not more than the lightness of not taking myself too seriously. 

Moving on to our topic for today, as I was sitting through one of these practices one day, I was caught off-guard when the practitioner threw a curveball I didn’t see coming. We started as the typical opening goes, followed by clear guidance to notice the body, BUT THEN, she asked us to look for sensations that feel good. My brain simply didn’t get that. What do you mean feel good?  I thought we’re doing some deep shadow work here. Discomfort and density is all we’re after. As a seasoned shadow worker that centered the alchemy of pain as a portal for growth, pleasure was never considered.

I haven’t been able to really put that to rest since then.  Do I truly want to feel as good as I say I do? Do I give it the space to move through me fully when it comes? Can I even handle it?  

Pleasure first.

Finding pleasure instead of pursuing it. A re-frame that had me sit with the real honesty of sitting with the fear of having the very thing I really want. When the prompt of ‘notice the good sensations in your body’ came in, and what immediately called out are areas of restriction then what I found isn’t another area to heal, but the very pattern that searches for more to fix. That consciously I’m pursuing pleasure, but unconsciously likely brushing past it. 

In traversing the path of growth, the goal inevitably is perhaps one of feeling at peace. A state of presence, of lightness following years in the trenches of shadow work and lessons learnt. The medicine of tough times is priceless, a journey I wouldn’t trade for endless ease or bliss because it taught me more than I can ever learn in a million years. Because I know in my bones that it happened for me, for my own good, and not to me. Yet, the practice is not one of continuous digging as much as it is about how real we can get with ourselves. 

In the willingness we have to do ‘the work’, how willing are we to also feel the pleasure? How narrow or wide is that permission field for us? My bet is not so much, and so what comes is the retraction to what is familiar, i.e. the repetitive patterns and difficult situations because the capacity to handle what we truly want feels overwhelming. Apply it to the idea of being fully accepted,  loved, adored, free, abundant, vital, all of it.  A vicious cycle that has us consciously pursue something, but subconsciously avoid it. Somatically unable to hold space for the sensation it carries. 


Two sides of the same coin.

Our willingness to feel our shameless desires, or feel the pain of owning our challenges are essentially two sides of the same coin. It’s sitting in the honest inquiry of subconscious habits. If I am to have all that I say I want to have, how does that register in my body? What beliefs do I have about that person that rests in their fulfilled desires? The association with feeling good. 

On the flip side, sitting in the inquiry of what a said painful situation is telling of my internal patterns. The willingness I have to develop the spine to hold all my parts as they unlearn their ways.

The subtle noticing of what feels good alongside what doesn’t. Pleasure not as a reward for doing the hard thing, but one that can coexist with it. The duality of both existing at the same time. The constriction in your throat, as well as the tingling on the top of your lip as the breath gently passes through. In finding pleasure first, we orient towards life. Not to bypass what doesn’t feel good, but to move towards fulfillment. 


Just notice

The next time you see the sun peeping through your living room window, or feel the brush of your partner on your skin, or take a bite of a juicy apricot, notice how quickly you move onto the next thing. Notice the capacity you have to really sit through the full cycle of that enjoyment.

Other musings...

Meeting FĂ©e, again

Yet another article on mirrors

Feeling good feels bad