5 Ways to Feel Pleasure Right Now

These "pleasure breaks" can be done almost anywhere—all in 5 minutes or less.

Posted Jun 26, 2020

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash
Source: Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

In my last post I spoke about the importance of pleasure—and how seeking it is actually a radical act. I also noted some of the reasons that our culture bars us from feeling good. 

With everything going on right now (ongoing global pandemic, nationwide civil rights protests, upcoming election, and more), focusing on pleasure may seem frivolous. But it's actually more important than ever. Our natural ability to tap into pleasure helps sustain and strengthen us so that we can focus on activism, health, and other crucial roles and priorities.  

I’m sharing five quick and easy "pleasure breaks" that can be done in most places in 5 minutes or less. Since pleasure must be felt in the body, these are focused around the five senses. If you have time for only one, choose the sense that you feel the least connected to. The more you practice sensing and feeling pleasure, the easier and stronger it will become. 

Touch: Find a few plants, either in your home or outside. Touch the leaves and stems. How do they differ from one another? Are the edges sharp or soft? Which feels the most relaxing and enjoyable to touch? Do you prefer smooth leaves or velvety petals? If there are no plants in the vicinity, try this exercise with different types and textures of fabric.

Smell: If, like many, you're spending most of your time at home, you may have stopped putting on oils, perfume, or other scented products. Pick one that you love and put a few drops on your wrists and neck. Inhale the scent and close your eyes. What do you like best about it? Are there different notes in the fragrance? What does it remind you of? How do you feel now that you have it on?

Taste: Take a bite of something sweet—honey, peanut butter, chocolate—and let it dissolve on your tongue. Bring your full attention to the taste. If you had to describe the taste to someone who had never before experienced it, what words would you use? What do you like best about it? Does the taste change at all as it melts?

Sound: Choose a favorite song, old or new. If it’s a slow song, make yourself comfortable, perhaps on a yoga mat or couch, and completely relax your body while listening. If it’s fast, allow yourself to move in your seat or even around the room. Close your eyes if you can and try to consciously catch every second, from the first note to the beat of silence at the end. 

Sight: On a walk or in your home, choose a favorite color. Let yourself wander through the space or down the sidewalk, noticing where the color appears. Allow the color to jump out at you and linger over it with appreciation. Notice all the different variations and shades. What associations do you have with that color? What's the most enjoyable memory that comes to mind? 

After your pleasure break, check in with yourself. How do you feel? Has your mood shifted? Has your focus sharpened? If not, you might take this as a sign to plan a longer pleasurable activity or one that integrates more—or all—of your senses. 

Take these suggestions as a jumping-off point to think of more. How could you integrate small, sensual, and pleasurable activities into different areas of your life: activism, exercise, work? How might these pleasure breaks make a difference in your day? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!