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The Pleasures of Living Your Unique Self

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

What is the key to unlocking pleasure? In this post, I want to delve into the fascinating process of Unique Self Emergence and the profound pleasure it can bring to our lives. Often, when we consider coaching, we might question what coachees gain from such programs. We can look at outer results and inner results. Today I want to focus on inner results. To encapsulate the essence of the Unique Self Emergence Process* experience, it boils down to the ability to embrace greater pleasure in life. However, the concept of pleasure here goes beyond the surface-level definitions we typically associate with it.

Over the course of my own journey through the Unique Self Emergence Process with Integral Master Coach Claire Molinard, I was able to uncover a deep upswelling of pleasure as I released the contractions of my ego and embraced my Unique Self. How did this happen? Part of it was by addressing emotional triggers that previously left me feeling out of place and contracted in vicious spirals of self-criticism and discomfort in group settings – I would collapse with thoughts of “I don’t belong” or “I’m not good enough”. I discovered that this was my False Self hijacking my sense of self. I learned to sit with these feelings, offer compassion to myself, and unearth the underlying desires and needs that fueled such emotions. By allowing these contractions to unravel, I discovered the pleasure of being present in my underlying essence and embracing myself fully.

Have you ever felt such pleasure? How long does it last?

This baseline pleasure of being present and embracing myself has led me to increasingly engage confidently in group settings. Instead of evading situations that trigger, I have learned to lean into them. I’m now more able to contribute my unique talents and voice which, contrary to my false self assumptions, has led to more acceptance and appreciation from the group. When we realize our Unique Self, we experience an internal spaciousness to confront challenges and emotions head-on.

Dr. Marc Gafni has outlined six distinct yet interrelated levels of pleasure within the context of Unique Self.

As I briefly describe each of them below, feel into your experience of them as a pleasures! We don't typically name them as pleasures; rather, we use polite terms like "joy" or "fulfillment", but by recognizing them as pleasures, we start to see an underlying pattern that is a field of pleasure that we can attune to.

1. Physical Pleasure: This level involves engaging our senses—touch, taste, sight, smile, and sound. Unique Self Coaching encourages a greater connection to physical pleasure by offering practices such as pleasure eating or nature immersion that activate our embodied sensuous receptivity.

2. Relationship Pleasure: Here, we experience the joy of connecting with others through love and affection. Distinguishing between genuine pleasure and pseudo pleasure is crucial—genuine pleasure leaves us fulfilled and content, whereas pseudo pleasure leads to negative aftertaste.

3. Cause-Related Pleasure: This level revolves around standing for a cause and contributing to something larger than oneself. True pleasure is derived from meaningful engagement in causes that resonate with our values and personal growth. No matter how many great relationships we have, if we don’t have a cause worth living for, we are not experiencing this level.

4. “True Self” Pleasure: This level involves transcending the egoic self to recognize our interconnectedness with the unified field of reality. This realization leads to a profound sense of pleasure, where we feel fully alive and in harmony with the universe. We can cultivate this level of pleasure through dozens of practices, including meditation, prayer, dance, nature immersion, or chanting.

5. Unique Self/Creative Pleasure: Here, we revel in the joy of expressing our unique selves and living in alignment with our gifts and purpose.

6. Evolutionary Pleasure: The pinnacle of pleasure arises from participating in the evolution of all-that-is. By aligning with evolutionary principles and contributing our unique gifts to the world where they are needed most, we play a role in the ongoing growth and transformation of reality itself. This is rarest level, and it may sound elusive, but it is indeed possible when we take action from the depths of our being.

Each of these pleasures has a counterfeit form and requires practice to access in their genuine forms. There are also pleasure principles that we need to align with in order to get these pleasures. For example, the principle that pleasure is a skill that can be developed, and that the greater the pleasure, the more skill we are required to develop. Consider the difference between a long-lasting friendship that has gone through tough times, versus a casual encounter at the grocery store. Which is more pleasurable?

These levels are continuously dynamic, and cannot be “freeze-framed”. Once we try to hold onto a pleasure, it evades us. Try eating gourmet pizza every night and see how pleasurable it is by day seven.

Another principle is common sense but we often forget: delayed gratification increases pleasure. Consider the patience of sticking with a meditation practice day after day, even when results are fleeting, versus a quick psychedelic altered state. If you've cultivated it yourself over time, how much more lasting and profound might that pleasure be?

Finally, there is an ideal balance between the levels – we cannot just focus on, say, level one physical pleasure and expect it to give us all the pleasure we need.

The Unique Self Emergence Process cultivates the skills needed to access these levels of pleasure consciously and in a more integrated way. This journey involves daily practices that encourage us to show up as our authentic selves, engage in creativity, and participate in the most powerful force in the universe -- evolution itself.

If you find yourself drawn to this exploration of pleasure and self-discovery, I encourage you to explore these teachings further. Read Your Unique Self, by Dr. Marc Gafni, or take the free mini course at If you’re ready to dive into Unique Self Coaching, or have questions, please contact me. In any case, I hope that you embrace the potential for transformation and a life enriched by the pleasure of living as who you really are – an individuated expression of the unified fabric of reality.

*The Unique Self Emergence Process is a leading edge coaching modality designed by Integral Master Coaches Barbara Alexander and Claire Molinard and based on Dr Marc Gafni's seminal teachings on Unique Self. Unique Self is an integration of traditional, modern and post-modern views of human identity beyond separation that reveals we are each unique expressions of the interconnected field that have unique perspectives and gifts to give in our unique circle of influence. More at

See my video that inspired this blog post:

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