Pleasure Circle is a continuing part of the Pleasure Weekend I did with Jena LaFlamme in NYC in November.
It involves a monthly phone call and an online community to help support the transformation to really treating your body well and learning to listen to her (your body, not Jenna, although it makes sense to listen to her, too)
Homework last month was to "learn to unite more powerfully with pleasure as a healing force, in your life and in your body, by developing your breath."
with a page full of helpful suggestions and some reading homework.
December was not an easy month to focus on my breath. I don't think I have ever been so busy!
My teaching job was intense, working on labor and delivery was crazy busy and I had to pull off Christmas and everything that entails. It felt like each day was packed and I was running.
I did try to breathe.
When I was hunched over wrapping I would try and sit up and take a big slow breath.
When I was helping a student give meds for the first time I tried to relax my shoulders and take a breath.
When I was surrounded by sweets at work during a quick break from caring for a woman in labor I tried to sit and breathe.
When I was on the computer doing work or ordering things or worrying about money I would stop and breathe.
The last week before Christmas I talked with a friend at work who had 10 thirty gallon trash bags full of gifts for her children and family still left to wrap. She was predicting that she'd have to pull an all-nighter. I groaned in empathy but she smiled and said, "I know it's crazy, but it's so fun!" I thought she was insane but then it hit me. It is fun! I do love to make magic for my kids and family. It's fun. I had completely forgotten! That conversation helped bring me over the finish line and really enjoy the holiday.
But I was drained.
Ready to just sit still for a while.
Couldn't look at my list for a while.
Couldn't do homework.
Throughout the busy month I did listen to the new book by Geneen Roth Lost and Found about losing all her money in the Madoff scandal. I really enjoy her stuff and her clear writing about private issues like food and money. In this book she writes:
"During my years of dieting and binging, I saw my body as a thing I could throw around, an empty trash can I could stuff with whatever my mind wanted to eat. As if what I ate and the body that received it were not related. But then I started to understand that eating was not about being fat or thin; it was a physical means, a path, to being more-or less- alive. I could use food to feel energetic, or I could use it to feel dead. I could jack myself up on a sugar high for half and hour and drag myself around for the rest of the day, or I could eat something that would actually give me energy instead of taking it away. It depended on whether and how much I valued feeling as alive as possible." p. 42 Lost and Found
That quote articulates my recent realization beautifully. Why would I eat food that makes me feel like crap? Why not eat food that lets me be present and energetic? I suppose I've asked that question for a while but something has shifted, so right now I really get it.
Food and eating are about nourishing me.
So obvious, but feels like a big change that takes away alot of the banter and resistance in my head. The focused group energy of my Pleasure Camp weekend might have loosened old mental brick walls while we were dancing and eating chocolate blindfolded!
I also listened to a lecture by Jena that inspired me. You can listen to a similar one here:
http://www.love3point0.com/ricdownloads/ (scroll 1/3 of the way down the page and click the replay or download.)
Jena talks about the conversation years ago with her teacher in which he told her that her body was an animal and a "she" and how it shifted things for her. (My transcription here might not be exact.)
"By calling the body a "she" I realized that the body is a living, decision making animal, an intelligent creature that has alot of savvy and intelligence...Animals in nature know how to eat. If my body is an animal...I'm a mammal, I did know this. Something clicked, then my body, too must know what to eat, if given a chance.
So from there, the distinction for me was, my body was not something I owned and possessed, that I had the right to starve her, binge and overeat, eat the worst thing, like,
"Eeh whatever-it's my body. I can handle it. It's mine I can do whatever I want with it."
He pointed out "Uh uh. She's not yours to abuse. She doesn't belong to you.
She belongs to life.
She belongs to the planet and you are her guardian.
You have the responsibility and privilege to care for her in this lifetime.
And with that new frame, everything shifted.
I began to listen to her and that's what I ask you to do.."
That really struck me.
"She belongs to life."
I do feel that since my illness and recovery last year I have felt more reverence for my body. When I was gravely ill, my sister sat at my bedside, gently petting my leg or my arm saying over and over in a soothing voice, almost a chant, "Your sweet body is working so hard. It is so strong. You are so strong."
My body is working to keep me alive on this planet.
What a privilege to care for it.
Why not let it enjoy the beautiful world around us?