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Spirit Pleasures

by Douglas Weiss, Ph.D


The following excerpt is taken from the book The Power of Pleasure, by Douglas Weiss, Ph.D.. It is published by Hay House (May 2007) and available at all bookstores or online at: www.hayhouse.com

I want to discuss a world that many find to be a pleasure zone—the realm of the spirit. Even if you’ve never had any significant spiritual leanings, it’s important to know about this zone for the sake of understanding other people better. The various pleasure zones are among the things that make our species amazing. As human beings, we’re as different and unique among ourselves as the entire animal kingdom.

Spiritual pleasure zones are real. Billions of dollars are spent on religious development, worship centers, and organizations promoting a range of spiritual beliefs as broad as the ocean.

I want you to know that I have absolutely no ideological agenda in this chapter—that’s not the purpose of the pleasure zones. I just want you to identify yet another area where you might already be receiving pleasure, or where you might consider doing so.

 

Meditation

There’s an absolute joy in meditation: Your mind is clear, your body is calm, and the only things moving are your heart and lungs. When you’re at peace, it’s as if you can feel the world slowly move within your own stillness.

Meditation is sweet, intoxicating, and “wowing” to those for whom it’s a primary pleasure zone. In fact, I know a woman who has a special room in her house just for this activity. She assumes a comfortable position, and all of life stops around her. She exists within the silence of her wonderful self.

For some people, meditation is an absolutely cleansing phenomenon, in which they block out all thoughts and just purge themselves of the world around them. In that moment, they’re as focused as a downhill skier or mountain biker . . . totally lost in the moment.

Others practice a form of meditation that may include thoughts or music. They also get in a comfortable position, but they focus on an idea, spiritual thought, or world issue. They meditate as a way to achieve clarity about what’s on their mind. They might use their back porch, a hammock, or a quiet space anywhere.

Some people intentionally utilize meditation in their lives for the sake of others, although they wouldn’t necessarily call it by that name. I know a man who slips off to his hammock in the backyard when he comes home from work. Before engaging in all the joys of parenting, marriage, and housework, he lies there for 15 to 30 minutes just feeling the hammock’s slow movements and experiencing relaxation. He’s then refreshed and able to give more of himself to his family. He doesn’t refer to this as “meditation”—he calls it “escaping”—but he enjoys it like a cold drink on a summer’s day.

I regularly see some of these meditators on the plane. They have their headsets on and are off in a place of tranquility. They aren’t sleeping; rather, they’re connecting to a meditative state.

If you’re someone whose primary pleasure zone is meditation, you’ll need to meet this need quite

regularly. It’s the way you experience pleasure and feel centered in your immediate surroundings and the world at large. To those of you in a primary relationship with such a person, celebrate these moments of aloneness that give your loved one the recharging he or she needs in order to be a good partner and face the demands of life.

 

Prayer

Prayer is a pleasure zone that’s distinct from meditation, since it’s a talking-aloud and active-listening process. Prayer, unlike meditation, has a deity focus—something that’s unique to this pleasure.

Prayer is based on either a spiritual or a religious belief in a higher power. Now these distinctions are important:

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— A spiritual belief in a deity is relational; that is, there’s some interaction between the deity and the one who’s praying. It’s an offering or a communication of the self to the divine. The two beings are friends who are in an unequal relationship. It’s like having an uncle, grandfather, or mother who loves you for who you are but who can see the unrefined spots in your life and has the resources to support your growth.

— A religious belief involves more of an object relationship with a deity. Often this supreme being has the ability to help but must first be pleased by a special performance or a litany of statements, and religious people are often more formal in the way they approach the higher power. The pleasure is in checking off the box or doing a “right” spiritual act, as opposed to engaging in a relationship.

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Praying can be extremely pleasurable. Opening your heart to the divine can be incredibly engaging, cleansing, and empowering.

Praying for others, whether they’re strangers or people you know well, can also be a wonderful experience for those who have this pleasure zone. I know some people who call themselves intercessors. They receive real joy in pouring their hearts out on behalf of others. When they’re done, they report experiencing intense pleasure spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

Prayer-pleasure-zone people need sufficient time to pursue their pleasure. Their praying allows them to feel connected to their deity as well as to those around them. They feel awesome knowing that they bring those they love closer to the divine on a regular basis.

If you’re in a significant relationship with—or are married to—a prayer-pleasure-zone person, engage him or her on this level. Ask questions about your partner’s prayer experiences, and share your real concerns about your life so that he or she can pray for you. Doing so will make your loved one feel honored and valued.

 

Service

The service pleasure zone also has a religious or “cause” focus. People with this pleasure zone feel joy in advancing their spiritual beliefs or causes. The beliefs themselves aren’t the issue; the pleasure they receive in advancing them is what’s important.

Such people find pleasure in teaching the young, their peers, and even those outside of the fold of their faith. This may take place in a local community of similar believers or in serving in some broader manner to help get the news out about their convictions.

Often “servers” won’t just stop at donating their personal time but will often contribute financially as well. They work hard and give a percentage of their income to forward their cause locally, nationally, or globally.

They feel pleasure when serving and have a need to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They really like volunteering for service within their belief structure. Again, if you’re in a relationship with a server, celebrate this fact. Your loved one will set aside time and money to serve, but afterward he or she is usually charged up about life and his or her relationship with you.

***

You’ve been exposed to so many pleasure zones, and yes, you’ll usually have more than one. Finding and managing them will be the focus of future chapters. For right now, you might just want to pause for a moment and reflect on the idea that you’re a being who’s made for pleasure. You’re uniquely created for a combination of pleasure zones that are yours and yours alone. Nobody you know has the exact pleasure-zone hierarchy that you do.

There’s joy in discovering the special value of your own pleasure zones and in honoring and appreciating those of the people around you. Believe me, as you get good at detecting pleasure zones, you’ll be able to identify them in your friends, children, parents, co-workers, and partner.

Once you uncover the zones of others, you’ll find yourself engaging in more positive, supportive conversations with those whose zones are different from your own. The golfer and the skydiver can support each other on any given day as they both individually express their own respective pleasure zones.

I hope that you’re enjoying identifying primary pleasure zones, and I heartily welcome you to the pleasure-zone lifestyle!


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