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The Healing Power of Pleasure

Seven Medicines for Rediscovering the Innate Joy of Being

Published by Findhorn Press
Distributed by Simon & Schuster
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A step-by-step journey into sensuality to rediscover the delight that lies just below the surface of everyday experience 

• Shares seven easily accessible spiritual “medicines”--slowing down, embodying, deepening, relating, pleasure, power, and potency--so you can discover more sensual pleasure and delight in your body, relationships, and way of being as well as inner confidence, instinctual power, and aliveness

• Presents reflections, practical somatic and breathing exercises, prompting questions, meditations, and energetic transmissions for each medicine

• Explores body awareness, managing emotions stored in the body, the five realms of relationship, the different kinds of love, sexuality, passionate intimacy, and pleasure as a source of nourishment and healing

Hidden just below the surface of ordinary day-to-day reality lies an abundance of pleasure and delight. By learning to look beyond your daily challenges, you can ease your stressed mind and body and rediscover the magic, mystery, sensuality, and joy that is possible in everyday life.

Taking you step by step through a sensual journey of healing and transformation, Julia Hollenbery explores seven easily accessible spiritual “medicines” or pathways to discover more sensual pleasure and delight in your body, relationships, and way of being. Journeying through slowing, embodying, deepening, relating, pleasure, power, and potency, each medicine invites you to engage through reflections, practical somatic and breathing exercises, prompting questions, and meditations. Energetic transmissions help you reconnect body, mind, and soul in an integrated way and reclaim your innate source of pleasure.

A visionary call to action to inhabit your universe of deliciousness, The Healing Power of Pleasure combines scientific fact with ancient spirituality, insight, humor, and poetry. This book presents an invitation to reawaken your body, realize the depth and web of relationships within which we live, and embrace the pleasure, power, and potency that arise when we look inward as well as confidently relate outward with the world around us.

From Chapter 5. Pleasure: The Medicine of Sensing

Being Here Now


If and when we can allow ourselves to be simply and truly in the present moment, we arrive at the healing heart of a relationship. We enter, as if through a portal, a deeper dimension of expansion. A realm of sensuality and pleasure where every detail is in high definition. It is a privilege to experience life like this. It seems - and we seem - precious and pure, rich and tender, brilliant, delightful and peaceful. It is a state of deep, deep relaxation; a level of reality that is always there but which we are usually too busy to experience. Or we are too tense to dare to allow ourselves to relax into this. The silence is loud.

There are no points of reference or labels. No categories of good or bad or adequate or anything whatsoever. When our heads are clear, we are free to really see and feel. Then, we can see the other as a delightful sensual landscape as much as a person named Judy or Jasper. We can really see! We don’t know what we will see, as impressions reach us unbidden. We might be struck by the colour of their eyes, the detail of their pores, the colours and textures of their skin, the flash of light reflecting on a lower eyelid rim, the beauty of a wrinkle, the glory of a large nose or whatever else is right there in front of you. There might also be a smell or a touch.

It is a state of receptivity. An opening up, or an opening out, to receiving what is there. It is deeply respectful of the other, almost reverential (without any pompous self-glory or self-abasement). It is the stillness at the heart of the whirring world. A pause in directed action that allows us to take in, inhale, receive and respond to the full sensory impression. It is to be a screen, as it were, imprinted by the image or smell or touch or sound of the other. It is to be affected by another.

It is to know nothing, in the best possible way, in order to receive something directly.

PRACTICES FOR FULFILLMENT

Practicing Receptivity

Real pleasure is not selfish - it is wise. We need to reawaken our body and remove obstructions to our innate sensual intelligence. Our genitals are not tools. We all naturally know what to do when we are in good contact with our body and our inner sense - our innocence, our organic inner sensitivity.

According to Lee Lozowick, the approach to real relationship and pleasure is by ‘becoming Woman’. I understand this to mean becoming more receptive. Many great spiritual teachings contain this essential approach to becoming more feminine in relationship to the divine. This means being open to receiving, rather than grabbing - our usual orientation to getting and having. Our capacity for receiving is our capacity for experiencing pleasure. The way to a really delicious relationship is to become more receptive. It is feeling worthy of receiving and a melting of tension, resistance and control.

Pleasure is often encoded within organized monotheistic religion where it can be turned into underground practices. The name of the Kabbalah, a Jewish mystical tradition, literally means ‘receiving’ and Kabbalistic texts discuss seven levels of pleasure. It is said that Jesus and Mary (who were of course Jewish) learnt sex magic in Egypt. Other cultures had different ways of expressing the wisdom of sexual pleasure: in India, it manifested as tantra, while the shamanic nations had Quodoshka.

Ancient Vedic texts describe the universe and everything in it, including us, as being made of bliss. Can we imagine the food is deeply wanting to be eaten, at the same time as we are wanting to eat it? Bliss is our underlying nature, discoverable through a focus on this moment of experience.

When we attend to our own inner experience in our intimate lives, rather than being distracted by fantasy, to-do lists or resentments, our capacity for sexual pleasure here and now increases...

1. Discover how relaxation opens you up to feeling more pleasure

Doing things with less effort is relaxing, opening up space in us to enjoy more pleasure. In what ways can you simplify? How can you do your work, parenting or gym class with less pushing, striving effort? What can you remove so there is more empty space to be filled with pleasure?

Try decluttering at home or at work and enjoying the pleasurable effect of less is more. Try a physical detox. Can you experiment with doing things with 10, 20 or 30 per cent less effort? Experiment with everyday activities such as picking up a cup, walking, sitting and answering the phone. What is the least muscular effort you need to engage in order to do the task? What do you find when you turn the tension level down?

Try relaxing one part of your body and seeing how that affects you as a whole. Try raising and lowering your shoulders, or shaking your jaw loose, or moving your pelvis. Is there more pleasure?

2. Experiment with how you switch pleasure on and off

With a friend who agrees to explore this experience, decide who will first be the “giver” and who is the “receiver.” This is an experiment in discovering that pleasure and pain are actually the same energy in the body. One at a time, press a spot on the sole of the foot, or on an arm, that gives a tolerable level of pain. The “receiver” tries to breathe more than usual and to relax as much as they can. What do you notice? Do you perhaps feel the sensation change from pain to pleasure? Now swap roles.

You can also experiment with a pleasurable touch and notice how tensing dulls the sensation, while relaxation increases the sensation. What do you discover?

The health benefits of pleasure as a wide and subtle whole-body sensuality in everyday life have not yet been measured, but without doubt exist.

Julia Paulette Hollenbery is a bodyworker, therapist, mystic, healer, and facilitator. For more than 25 years she has guided countless clients into deep confidence and self-authority. Passionate about sharing her life-long love of the mystery, real sensual relationship, and the life of the body, Julia lives and works in London.

The Healing Power of Pleasure gives you the inside story of how to transform your moment-to-moment experience. To make your body hum, your mind unwind, and your soul smile, read this book!”

– SARAH ROZENTHULER, chartered psychologist and author of Powered by Purpose and How to Have Meaningfu

“Julia Hollenbery guides us to connect more deeply with our natural selves and recognize the abundant joy that always resides there.”

– David R. Hamilton, Ph.D., scientist and author of I Heart Me: The Science of Self-Love

“Hollenbery’s recipes for pleasure introduce readers to the Universe of Deliciousness that awaits them just around the corner, within their own bodies. Read and enjoy.”

– Sarah Peyton, neuroscientist and author of Your Resonant Self and Your Resonant Self Workbook

“Julia Hollenbery has taken the journey and now shares it in her own inimitable style. I had a teacher once who told me that learning through pleasure was the highest form of learning. As Julia shares in her own poetic and soul-deep style, she didn’t begin there. She arrived there after a long journey. In The Healing Power of Pleasure, she shares the fruit of her work. As anyone who has taken the journey knows, fruit is the result of years of digging and composting. The more real the journey, the sweeter the medicine. Go on, take a sweet apple from this Tree of Knowledge.”

– Ya’Acov Darling Khan, shaman, cofounder of Movement Medicine, and author of Jaguar in the Body

“In this thoughtful exploration of our emotional, logical, creative, and sensual selves, Julia Paulette Hollenbery’s innate gentle wisdom, knowledge, and understanding shines through on every page. A book to keep on your shelf and return to whenever you need more insight and guidance into greater awareness and understanding of the unique delights of the lived experience that are on offer to you.”

– Judy Piatkus, publishing entrepreneur and author of Ahead of Her Time

The Healing Power of Pleasure is a book of immense scope, a comprehensive and masterful reminder that no matter the complexities of modern life and no matter what life throws at us, the capacity for great joy resides at the centre of our being and can be accessed by all. This is an important book, a celebration of the simple life, as we learn to listen to and honour the deepest wisdom of our souls, rediscover the joys of living sensually, and become one with the magic of the natural world around us. Julia Hollenbery takes us on an important journey that is both personal and universal and deserves to be richly savoured and absorbed.”

– Clare Martin, psychological astrologer and teacher, patron of the faculty of Astrological Studies, a

“What a pleasure to journey through Julia’s profound and healing book. She offers a rich and enjoyable feast of wisdom and practical suggestions. The depth and authenticity of her sharing is both moving and inspiring, and her suggested practices are life changing. To the very end I felt captivated, challenged, and liberated. This is without doubt a must-read book that could change your life and powerfully enhance your capacity to experience pleasure and embodiment in the world.”

– Lynne Sedgmore, CBE, author of Crone Times and Healing Through the Goddess

“I found Julia’s exploration of pleasure and deliciousness so powerful. She looks at our society’s present and past tendency to overlook the realities of life, to get lost in ego and need. As Julia writes, ‘The modern perspective on life is often divisive, emphasizing analysis, cause or effect, compare and contrast.’ She orients the reader to the ‘messiness’ of our life and explores how we can shift our orientation from conditioning and fear to spontaneity and pleasure, to appreciate the ‘mess’ we are in and live life to the fullest. I so appreciated her writing and can highly recommend it!”

– Franklyn Sills, cofounder of the Karuna Institute and author of The Polarity Process, Being and Beco

“This book is a doorway to an inner world, allowing us to enter a new adventure while still very much being fully in the body and in the creative magical mystery of life.”

– Steve Nobel, spiritual coach, founder of Soul Matrix Healing, and author of The Enlightenment of Wor

“A helpful handbook toward a new birthing in our hearts, encouraging us to savour the delights to be found within a lifetime in the material world. It also serves as an introduction to discovering the deeper and less visible dimensions of life within the rapidly changing context for our lives today. This is a journey of our time.”

– Janice Dolley, author of Awakening to a New Reality and coauthor of The Quest

“Julia has created a meaningful and moving exploration of joy and pleasure at a time when the world needs the uplift of this wisdom. A courageous and stimulating book.”

– Malcolm Stern, psychotherapist, cofounder of Alternatives,and author of Slay Your Dragons with Compa

“Julia’s call to inhabit our bodies fully, to become aware of and attend to the delight inherent in every moment, speaks to the deepest sense of ourselves. She shows us a way of being in the world that is nothing short of revolutionary.”

– Alison Jones, publisher and host of The Extraordinary Business Book Club

“Very personal, individual, and readable in its fluency, this book is filled with information and ideas gathered from readings, observations, thoughts, experiences, and imagination, richly and wisely put together.”

– Maggie McKenzie, director of the Spectrum Centre for Humanistic Psychotherapy