Reawakening Your Pleasure

When did you go numb?


Kaia Tingley

2 years ago | 9 min read

My first sex toys were stuffed animals

I remember being about 4 or 5 years old, and delightedly experimenting with the beautiful sensations of my body as I lay in bed going to sleep. Because my bedmates in those days were appropriately stuffed animals, I worked with what I had.

I would lay facing down, exploring the sensations of general pleasure that came from rubbing myself up against the different textures and stuffed lumps of the animals. I would play with holding my breath and making various noises. I paid attention to the sensations of goosebumps running along my skin. Sometimes I would use my fingertips on my neck and scalp, or my shoulders. I’d squeeze my belly and my hips. It was a full-body play, shameless and free.

It was all very innocent and pure. I was alone. It was my body. And I didn’t know anything was wrong with what I was doing.

I forget how I got caught

Or exactly what happened to introduce shame and fear to my little party. Maybe an adult came in to check on me and saw me moving under the covers? I don’t recall ever getting in trouble in the moment for what I was doing, but somehow the message came through loud and clear.

I do remember that the problem with sexual pleasure had something to do with God and sin, and how masturbation was somehow going to make me a bad person. It was going to disconnect me from the divine.

Looking back at this from where I stand now, I’m utterly horrified at the lies I was told as a little girl. I’m also impressed by how impactful they were on shaping my little body and mind.

I must have really wanted God to like me. I must have cared a lot about going to heaven. I stopped masturbating and exploring pleasure out of fear of rejection. I started thinking there was something wrong with me for liking these sensations and feelings.

To save myself, I turned it all off and retreated to the safety of my mind. My mind was safe because I thought I could control it. I turned on the bright light, and in so doing, I put the shadows to rest. Or so I thought.

Somewhere in the process, I lost my sensitivity to pleasure

I numbed down my bodily pleasure in my attempt to please the source of all creation because that’s what the adults I trusted to lead me told me to do.

I learned that someday, a man would come along and give me the love I craved. That giving love to myself was inferior and wrong and I needed to get all of this from outside of myself.

What the hell? Why would God have given me these readily available pleasures if I wasn’t supposed to touch them?

Temptation as a test of moral character? Dependence on a man and the church to fulfill my deepest needs and desires? Expecting the love for and of my children to be my main purpose in life?

Seriously? It’s so twisted I can hardly wrap my head around it now.

Like all good lies, the seed of truth at the center is what messed me up the most. Of course, I love my husband. Of course, I love my children. Of course, I love the Divine. These things are all beautiful and sublime in ways that I’m sure you, dear reader, also crave and enjoy.

It’s just not the whole story.

The disconnect from self and from the divine is, in my humble opinion, at the root of the evil we find ourselves staring at right now in horrified disbelief.

What I’ve come to understand as an adult is completely different

Now I know how much our connection to pleasure and joy has to do with health and wholeness. Now I know how vitally important it is to find love for myself within myself. Love and pleasure are the currency of connection, and they are SO much more important than the money economy we have all been fooled into paying so much attention to.

Not that the economy is not important, mind you. I get that. It’s just that an economy based only on transactions, money, and a struggle for power is far less effective at caring for all of us. We’re really going to need to transition this to an economy based on love, pleasure, beauty, and relationship if we want to turn this ship around. And quickly.

I’ve found my missions in life. It’s to reconnect to and reawaken my personal pleasure practices. And to spread the word through my words about how all of this works together.

Let us rewire our beliefs to align with the sacredness of reconnection

It’s long past time to let go of the power struggle.

Sex and love are such integral parts of being human. Whether these happen with yourself or with another person doesn’t really matter unless your goal is procreation.

Self-love and self-pleasure are vital for health in so many ways. And so are love and pleasure between people. The love and care we either do or don’t receive as children will shape our relationship to sexual pleasure and love as adults.

But our culture has pretty royally screwed with (pun intended) the morality and ethos of who is allowed and expected to have the right to pleasure. And who and what we are supposedly allowed to love.

It’s created this weird schism where men are supposed to take physical pleasure using women as toys or tools but are expected to disconnect from their emotions to do so. Women, on the other hand, are conditioned to self-objectify on a physical level, but they are allowed to find pleasure in the emotions of friendship, caregiving, and being of service to others.

Men are visual they tell us. Women are emotional.

Yes, and no. Don’t we all have eyes, skin, and fascinating brains to process the stimulus around us? Don’t we all have hearts that feel both pleasure and pain?

What’s becoming more clear to me as I age is that sexually empowered women and emotionally empowered men (to use very generalized buckets) are the ones who are being called upon to save the world. We have some work to do folks.

Balance and power

Healing the schisms of pleasure and love, and the masculine and the feminine have far-reaching implications that go far beyond just orgasms and personal health. These schisms are also at the root of our disconnects between each other and indeed the very planet we live on.

God supposedly kicked us out of the garden of Eden for what? Finding joy and power in pleasure? Or feeling shame for our sexual nature? Or was it eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge and trying to challenge the supremacy of the divine itself? There’s more to unpack here than I can possibly take on in a single post. I could probably write for years on this topic.

For now, I’ll stick to the concept that in order to regain balance we are going to have to accept a reassignment of the distribution of power between men and women. And we will all need to learn how to reconnect to pleasure and love, internally and externally as well.

Teach your children what you didn’t learn

My kids are starting to awaken into the sensations of their bodies and their questions about love and sexuality.

I’m so glad.

I’m teaching them that sex and pleasure and love are beautiful experiences we get to have as humans. I’m teaching them age-appropriate anatomy and things like the importance of consent. I’m teaching them how if you feel uncomfortable in a situation for any reason, you are allowed to withdraw consent and not feel guilty about it. I’m teaching them things like how their feelings and emotions matter.

My son has been asking things lately like, how come adults have sex and kids don’t? And, when will I know when I’m old enough to try sex? My favorite one he’s asked so far was, Mom, is sex a rite of passage?

I told him that the first person he will have sex with will be himself. My husband had the best talk with him the other day in the garden, explaining why his penis gets stiff and what to expect about semen and wet dreams and fertility when he is older. He explained how girls are probably going to be very distracting and make his mind go all fuzzy in a special kind of way. Maybe even other boys will make him feel this way too. Nothing too graphic but my son won’t be surprised or freaked out when he starts approaching puberty and this stuff starts happening to him.

I’ve made sure he has privacy in his loft to explore his body. We’re getting ready to reshuffle rooms in our house so the kids can have their own rooms. Guests are going to have to hit the couch from now on. See ya guest room.

My daughter has been exploring her body too. She wanted to know why her penis was small compared to her brother. I explained that she has a clitoris, which, being very into sparkles, unicorns, and rainbows, she adorably thinks is called her “glitterous.” I’ll correct her on that later.

I told her that it’s important to make sure her hands are clean and her nails are trimmed if she wants to explore this part of her body. Just like I taught her to wipe from front to back. It’s just basic knowledge that all little girls need.

She knows that her ovaries, or tigress pearls, are inside of her and they are a source of eggs that are part of life. She understands that her womb and her ovaries are just as important to the world as her brothers more obvious parts.

She and my son both know about the fertility cycle of a woman, and why a woman bleeds. They understand that this is healthy and not shameful or dirty. They even know that during the time of bleeding, sometimes a woman needs more rest and self-care time. They know when I’m bleeding on my cycle because it comes up in casual conversation. It’s all normal! It’s the way that the divine made us. It’s no different than the way plants and animals reproduce.

I refuse to program my children to the same false beliefs and shame I was given as a child

I don’t blame my parents. They taught me what they learned from their childhoods, and from our culture of shame, disconnection, and the imbalanced power dynamics of the dominance hierarchy.

But the false narrative stops here. No more.

If we don’t teach our children better, if we don’t work to reconnect ourselves back to love and pleasure, we will all be up a creek without a paddle.

The divine is love. The divine created pleasure and pain too, perhaps as guideposts to what’s truly right or wrong. Pleasure is sustainable and to be desired. Pain is a teacher that mostly shows us which way to steer clear of. The contrast exists for a reason.

What can you do to reawaken pleasure in yourself today?

It could be something as simple as stepping back from your screen, stretching and breathing, or maybe going for a walk.

It could be taking a moment to savor the taste of a fresh blueberry or the crunch of a walnut when you’re eating your breakfast.

It could be giving yourself a Taoist breast massage or practicing Tantra — alone or with a lover.

It could be allowing yourself to feel fear or longing or love and choosing to allow those emotions within yourself without trying to divert or shut them down. Let the tears flow. Take some deep breaths and allow the emotion to move through you. Moan if that's what feels good.

It could be taking time to appreciate the stately old tree in your front yard, or the sound of a bird singing, the beauty of a sunset, or the cold wind on your cheek as you walk to your car.

It could be taking the time to enjoy the laughter of your kids as they play, and maybe giving them a big hug for no specific reason.

It could be anything or everything that elicits sensation, feeling, movement of energy, or simply a greater awareness.

Pleasure and love come in all shapes and sizes of experience. They are a delightful part of being human.

But it is up to you to pay attention. It’s up to you to choose to enjoy these things if you want to. Qi goes where the mind flows. Direct your mind to the sensations of being human and see what happens. What do you have to lose?

Reconnect. Reawaken. De-numb yourself. Deprogram the shame, fear, and hatred.

It’s so worth it.

Onelove y’all. For real.


Created by

Kaia Tingley







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