Blissexology: Permission for Pleasure

by | Holistic Living, Print Articles, Thought Leaders, Winter 2024


It’s something that often fills many of us with a sense of guilt or even anxiety, to take the time to enjoy pleasure and rest in the body.

Even the word pleasure can bring up guilt or shame!

For so many of us, even eating something delicious, or taking some downtime makes us feel unproductive and anxious.

As a solopreneur for many years, I’ve realised how the entrepreneurial hustle has eaten its’ way into my space, a ‘productive’ day filled with ‘work’ often feels so much more manageable, than resting or enjoying something whilst relaxing.

 Finding time for a sunny spot and a good book, a guided meditation or a daydreaming space sometimes sparks guilt and it certainly seems I’m not the only one!

Some activities which benefit the pleasure of others actually exhaust us more.

Family holidays often mean returning to work even more exhausted at the end of the day. Most of us don’t have the means to go on all-expenses-paid type holidays, where someone else does all of the holiday preparation, the unseen labour of shopping, cleaning, packing or making sure there’s clean clothes and groceries.

And as for intimate pleasure… for so many in a relationship, it is often one-sided, where a massage or a date night hold sexpectations, which often bring up resentment and unexpressed frustration…

Pleasure is not something we tend to plan for ourselves and so we sneak it in with a quick glass of wine, or a guilty slice of cake instead of realising how beneficial the mindful pursuit of pleasure can be.

We’ve unbalanced pleasure in our lives, made it shameful and dopamine-laced, so that if we indulge in something pleasurable, we’ll hurry our way through it and then feel bad afterwards.

Having taught holistic intimacy for many years, I’m very familiar with the guilt associated with most forms of pleasure.

I had a lightbulb moment whilst working online with the international training group this weekend. We were discussing pleasure and how society and traditional religion often create no space for pleasure.

Pleasure is considered lazy, hedonistic, indulgent and shameful.

Obviously this shows up mostly with intimate pleasure, but it also shows up in  any pleasure we wish to express ourselves in PERSONALLY, just for OURSELVES.

Our food, sensuality, dance, movement, rest and relaxation have been shamed in many ways for years and the one thing I’m certain about fear, shame and guilt is that they shut the body’s natural balance down, release chemicals that don’t work for our bodies in the long run. These chemicals are meant for survival spaces.

Fear, shame and guilt overload, reduce longevity and health.

We tend to need permission for pleasure, very few people can introduce pleasurable activities for themselves without guilt.

One of the best ways I can get my clients to start introducing mindful pleasure is to make it healthy and science-based. This helps them release the guilt and start including it as a health practice. When we feel mindful pleasure, we benefit our happy chemicals and longevity, as well as our connection to community, our ability to give and share with others. This also improves their chemical balances for happiness and better health.

We laugh more, we feel more, we enjoy more…

Pleasure is actually part of our work in the world as empathic people.

If we open up to receiving mindful pleasure, we open ourselves up to switching off the inner martyr who serves everyone but ourselves and, in the long run, everybody benefits. It means changing our beliefs around pleasure, shifting guilt into gratitude and shame into mindfulness.

As above, so below.

We can’t ‘produce’ our way into that balance; we have to start taking our pleasure far more seriously as part of our awareness and ‘work’ in the world. Ironically, It’s a shift to MORE productivity and flow when we move into balanced mindful pleasure.

  • Can you consciously choose three pleasurable things every day that you do totally for yourself?
  • A hot shower in winter…
  • Reading a magazine with your favourite music playing…
  • Planning and slowly eating something delicious…
  • Cuddling in bed on a Saturday morning…
  • Stroking a cat and feeling the vibrations of the purr..
  • Pottering around in your garden enjoying the sun on your skin…

Can you do something just because you enjoy it?

Can you surrender to receiving in awareness with gratitude and mindfulness?

Can you give yourself permission for pleasure?

Anne-Marie Clulow

Anne-Marie Clulow

Intimacy Coach

“Integrating a practical, curious and kind approach to sexuality helps heal a deep wound in humanity”


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Anne-Marie Clulow

Anne-Marie is the founder of Intimacy Coach International and certifies and trains Intimacy Coaches worldwide to run sessions with neo-Tantra, Taoist sexuality and sensual/massage skill sets, with a set code of conduct for sessions. Having been with her husband for 27 years, their passion is working with people to improve their pleasure skill sets and relationships, both online and with couples’ retreats.
Anne-Marie has appeared on 702, Radio Today, Power FM and Kaya FM talking about conscious sexuality and neo Tantra, featured in Women & Home magazine and has been a guest twice on ETV’s ‘Great Expectations’ on regaining libido after childbirth.