Pleasure is Essential to Wellbeing—Here’s How to Make Sure You’re Getting Enough

Last Update: May 11, 2023

On a scale of one to 10, how pleasurable is your daily life?

If you read that and your mind went straight to your sex life, Kiana Reeves wants you to think again. “Pleasure is about the senses, [which] makes it uniquely applicable to almost every area of our lives.”

Reeves, a mom of two, is both a sex educator with a background in birthwork and the Chief Brand Educator at Foria, a brand that harnesses the power of hemp for overall wellness.

“When I had my own children, I realized how much our identities change sexually and our experience of intimacy changes when we have kids, which really inspired me to get into pelvic health work,” she explains. “I studied with some incredible teachers doing pelvic care…and from there trained as a sexological bodyworker and somatic sex educator, and I’ve been studying relationships and intimacy ever since then.” 

The common thread running through all Reeves’ experiences over the last decade-plus, she says, is pleasure: the significant role it plays in our lives and how important it is to our overall well-being. “If pleasure is the guiding factor when you’re making decisions about what to eat, how to move, even about how you interact with somebody, it will feel so much more intrinsically aligned and make your life so much richer in terms of how you experience it.”

We talked to Reeves about the importance of pleasure and how to make sure it’s as much a part of your daily routine as healthy food and quality rest.

Thrive Market: Pleasure is central to your work. Why is pleasure important to health and wellbeing? 

Kiana Reeves: Pleasure threads through every single aspect of wellbeing, in my opinion. A lot of times we associate pleasure with just sex because that’s the context in which we’re most used to experiencing it. But if you look at the food you eat, if you look at the way you get comfortable when you sleep and how you set your bed up, if you look at your exercise routine even…the most enjoyable and impactful experiences you have in any of those contexts are when you are experiencing pleasure with them.

TM: What purpose does pleasure serve in a healthy lifestyle?

KR: To me, pleasure is actually a measurement of, and a kind of baseline exploration of, something much deeper than just traditional qualitative wellbeing. It actually gives us a deep indication that we’re in right relation with different parts of our lives. To do things mechanically so that you reach a certain kind of goal with your health is one thing. To actually feel really good as you do it and to love doing it…it’s so much more impactful on your psyche and your emotions. 

TM: Aside from sex, how can people tap into the experience of pleasure? 

KR: When you use the word pleasure, it’s an orienting tool for the senses. Pleasure comes to you through your senses. In a culture where we are in our analytical minds almost all of the time, anything that brings us back into tracking our sensation, looking at something beautiful, feeling something soft against our skin…I think you can actually find pleasure in any moment. 

TM: It seems like CBD can be found in everything these days. Foria is a CBD brand; what makes it such a popular ingredient in wellness?

KR: It might sound a little corny, but plants are our oldest friends and allies. We’ve evolved alongside them for tens—if not hundreds of thousands—of years. Many plants, specifically the cannabis and hemp plant, have been documented as the oldest plants that we have a relationship with. So particularly when looking at the way hemp and cannabis have been used—we’ve used it to clothe us, to shelter us, to protect us as a medicine, everything—when you’re that closely relating with a plant, you being to see that you can track these beneficial aspects to it medicinally. It’s a profoundly impactful plant. 

Most people are familiar with CBD because there’s been this craze in the last two years, and they don’t really get the full picture of how beneficial this compound is within the context of the plant and all the cannabinoids and terpenes and value the plant brings. 

TM: How can CBD enhance pleasure? 

KR: What’s most unique about it is that CBD and cannabinoids don’t do one thing. They’re actually working with a system in the body called the endocannabinoid system that helps to modulate other systems in the body. So it’s not specifically pain-relieving or anti-inflammatory or blood-flow-inducing—even though studies show that there are different qualities in the plant that can impact [the body] in that way—what it’s doing is helping the core system itself find regulation. It’s from that place of homeostasis where we actually receive the most benefit and our body operates optimally.

When it comes to these compounds in the bedroom, you can look at studies that show there’s great vasodilation that happens with THC and CBD. It wasn’t a study specifically done on genitals, but you can pull from those studies and pull from [Foria] customers’ experiences also from thousands of years of anecdotal evidence and start to see that bringing these plants into the bedroom and into our intimate lives is one of the safest and most beneficial things we can do to support pleasure and connect with each other sexually.

TM: Is there anything relating to sex and pleasure that you wish more people understood?

KR: We do have to kind of take pleasure out of the context [of sex] to fully understand its benefits and impact, but we also have to examine what role sexual pleasure does play in our lives and how important that actually is, not just for our physicality—which is where most people leave it, pleasure feels good, therefore you should experience it—and that’s true. But it doesn’t really get into the nitty gritty of why, psychologically, it’s important. Or important to us on a deeper level. And sexual pleasure, I honestly think as it relates to intimacy with self and other, is one of the most profoundly sought-after experiences in a human lifetime. 

Sexual pleasure facilitates a type of intimacy that you don’t get anywhere else. And knowing another person in that way, and seeing them actually experience peak sexual states or inducing them with yourself is so rewarding on the most fundamental psychological and emotional level. The benefit, then, of sexual pleasure becomes not just something we experience for the fun of it; it becomes something we experience to deeply experience ourselves and what’s possible in partnership and romantic relating. I think the significance of that hasn’t fully been explored in this wave of sexual wellness. We’re still a bit in the conversational realm of, do it because it feels good, and I love that and think it’s an important part of our exploration. But really getting into what it allows us to do in our interpersonal relationships is tremendously life changing. 

TM: How do you make sure pleasure is a part of your daily life?

KR: When I became a mom, my libido…it didn’t vanish, but it really went dormant and was not a priority. I wanted it to be, but I couldn’t feel it—that inner urge or connection to myself. A lot of the last decade of my life has been exploring that relationship to self and pleasure and how it is actually a responsibility we have to cultivate in ourselves, whether or not we’re in partnership. I use it now almost as a measure of my own wellbeing. It can be tricky, because people have different libidos and I don’t want to say that any specific type is better than another. But I personally feel best when I want to have sex and be intimate. That feels really good to me. It allows me to know that I’m truly in my body, in my desires, in a place of feeling good. 

I’ve had to cultivate practices to keep that alive. One of them is a daily movement practice. The interesting thing around pleasure particularly, the drive we associate with our sex drive, the urge to connect in that way—it’s very hormonal and emotional, particularly for people with a highly dominant estrogen-progesterone makeup. As emotional beings who experience lots of input all of the time, it kind of disconnects us from those parts of ourselves. My pleasure practice, which seemingly would be around feeling good, is often about feeling the unfelt emotions that I wasn’t able to be fully present for in the day. I learned this from my incredible teacher John Wineland. It’s a practice of moving those and fully embodying them. Allowing grief, frustration, and anger to come up so that my heart feels fully accessible. Something I believe that not everyone believes is that when your heart is fully accessible you’re much more connected to your own sex drive. That’s been the most life changing practice in my life. 

3 Ways to Experience More Pleasure Every Day

Pleasure can be found in the simplest of daily routines. Here, Reeves shows you how to tap into it.

Savor everyday tasks. “Even when you’re cutting with a really sharp knife and it’s really satisfying, that can bring you pleasure. And actually that awareness and that experience brings you into the moment and fully into your body, which just helps so very much.”

Surround yourself with sensuality. “My bed is covered in really nice, soft linen. I love getting in it because it brings me so much pleasure. And I sleep so much better because there’s a pleasurable component to it.”

Just breathe. “Often what I notice is my breath can be really shallow in my chest. And if I take a breath with more awareness and feel my belly expand, I do feel a lot more pleasure in my body. I feel more relaxed and more at ease and whole.” 

Explore Foria at Thrive Market

Awaken Arousal Oil

Intimacy Sex Oil

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before changing your diet or healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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Kirby Stirland

Kirby Stirland is a writer, editor, and New York transplant living in Los Angeles.

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