Duality: self-discipline and pleasure

I laid my beach towel out on the sand and knelt on it as I straightened out the corners, putting each sandal at a corner, to keep the towel from lifting in the wind, and my backpack at another corner. Earlier in the day I had packed a light lunch: Smax Farm pastured chicken I had baked a few days earlier and an organic apple. I pulled my fare from the backpack now, and sat cross legged facing the water enjoying the feel of sun on my skin.

As I ate my simple lunch, I watched the waves curl toward the shore and a little child attempting to jump over each wave before it came to him. One jump, two jumps, three jumps, that wave almost knocked him over, five, thirty little jumps from those little legs.

And then I realized three things simultaneously: 1) my belly was full, 2) there was still good, locally grown, pasture raised chicken left in my baggie and 3) anything I did not eat now would spoil in the heat of the day before I got home.

I took another bite, I’m a good girl, we paid good money for this food and we don’t waste food.

I took yet another bite, and the words came so clearly: eat any more food and it’s poison.

I looked at the remainder of my healthy, valuable chicken … and threw it away.

Change. Movement. Flow. Sensation. Guilt. Duality. Need. Desire. Emotion. Pleasure.

Food, caffeine, drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex–each of these can be used to experience pleasure.

The first sip of espresso in the morning.

A cup of homemade strawberry ice cream, a glass of merlot during dinner, a handful of nuts between meals. Bringing home the perfect dress ’cause it shows off each curve in a new, sophisticated, alluring light that makes you feel like a giddy teenager all over again.

And creating the absence of pain is itself a form of pleasure-seeking, in the case of taking advil or tylenol for a headache or other pain.

This is good: being in the flow of life and enjoying experiences that are pleasing to ourself. Knowing we deserve goodness and pleasure.


What if one glass of wine isn’t enough during dinner? What if one dress once in a while turns into one dress every day? If one homemade chocolate chip cookie tastes this good, wouldn’t ten be that much better?

If the first cup of coffee tasted so good, wouldn’t finishing the whole pot be best? (Correct answer is a solid no! …just trust me on this one ;0)  )

Duality. Guilt. Pleasure. Emotion.

Pleasure versus self-discipline are the issues of the second chakra, the watery realm of emotions and sexuality and much of how we experience pleasure comes from our growing up years.

My initial thought, belief, when I realized I wasn’t hungry anymore was I’m a good girl, we paid good money for this food and we don’t waste food. Money was tight in my younger years as my dad started his business over 25 years ago, and we were using food stamps when I was a toddler. My beliefs about wasting food most likely came from this early period of my life and, even when scarcity of money no longer was an issue my family faced, the belief carried on unnoticed, unchallenged.

Use the following questions to reflect and/or journal to dig deeper into your beliefs about pleasure. I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

How was pleasure regarded in your family? Was it frowned upon or indulged in? Did your family take time for vacation, laugh together, and play? Was there a predominant message that hard work and self-sacrifice were necessary for survival or the means to spiritual fortitude? Were work and play, self-discipline and pleasure, brought into balance? How do you think these attitudes reflect your own orientation toward pleasure?