There are two kinds of pleasure, primary and secondary.
It occurred to me while sitting outside by the fire, sharing and laughing with Vinit, my husband, the other evening, that we were engaged in a primary pleasure, and I was completely happy and fulfilled inside. There was nothing else I needed in that moment. I thought to myself, this is a primary pleasure.
During this pandemic, we have become so addicted to secondary pleasures. Of course, being stripped of our natural human need to connect, to share face to face, to be co-regulated by eye contact, attunement and simple touch, we have turned to all kinds of ways to tend to those needs. Texting, social media, Netflix, eating, drinking, distracting ourselves from deep loneliness of soul and hunger for Spirit.
If you are wise you have managed to use your devotion and discipline to deepen the practices that nourish you, like being in nature, doing yoga, meditating, being creative. I am grateful to have had the time and space and good fortune to be on a pretty permanent retreat during these long months.
However, I’ll be the first to admit that the tendencies to be drawn into those familiar mental habits of restlessness, worry, fear, anxiety, and even depression when I look at the state of the world, have also taken ahold of me at times. It is these uncomfortable mind states that we try to avoid by distracting ourselves with external addictions. These are secondary pleasures. They feel good for a moment, but are not truly satisfying or nourishing for the Soul.
We are all longing for simple Primary Pleasures.
Sitting with friends, eating a good meal. Sharing deep conversation. Being held in the arms of someone we love. Gathering around the fire to share songs and stories. Being out in Nature enjoying the birdsong and the miracle of this body moving through space. Sitting in silence with oneself connecting with the mystery and magic of one’s own breath. Being in simple presence.
Primary pleasures are free. They don’t cost anything. They don’t cause stress to our minds, tug on our emotions or weigh heavy on our bodies. They lift us up and ignite our spirit. They remind us of the simple joy of being alive.
I sincerely hope that the pandemic has offered you an invitation to slow down, become more present, and appreciate the simple things in life. Primary pleasures. As we emerge into a new world this Spring, I hope you will make it a habit to engage in Primary Pleasures and leave the secondary ones behind!