“Pleasure is Connected to Creativity and Life Force Energy.”

Facilitator and author Pamela Von Sabljar is empowering global change makers and business leaders to live a life of pleasure and radical responsibility.

Pamela Von Sabljar is a Swedish facilitator, motivational speaker and author. 

Her work with individuals, corporations and organisations focuses on cultivating authenticity, self-awareness and self-leadership.

In this conversation, Pamela speaks with Tarn about using pleasure as a guiding force in life and what it means to be a feminine leader.

Tarn: I thought we could start by casting our minds back to the Emerge Gathering in September, which you were facilitating. I’d be interested to hear a little bit about your experience of that, and what came up for you?

Pamela: I think a lot of people have this need for deeper human connection which isn’t normally met at conferences. At the Gathering we used embodiment as a red thread, encouraging people to stay connected to their breath and their inner experience. My intention as facilitator was to create the sense of safety that people need when entering a group of strangers so that they were able to be more vulnerable, and then really listen into what came up. I felt it ended up being a different kind of meeting than one I’d been to before.

Tarn: At the Gathering people referred to these circles of ‘being’ ‘doing’ and ‘thinking’ a lot. What you’re talking about, would you say that's the ‘being’ part?
There was a great shift in my life when I started to prioritise pleasure and self-care.
Pamela: Yes. In our modern societies we’re very trained to come from a mind perspective, especially in intellectual or professional circles. In general, we place great value on navigating from the mind only. We aren’t so used to meeting each other from a place of presence. It’s tricky because all are important, but the fact is we’re brought up in families and communities and institutions where we do not meet each other on this ‘being’ level very often.

Tarn: At the first Emerge Gathering in Berlin you spoke about this ‘being’ aspect in terms of pleasure - from this perspective of ‘how is my body responding to this’. I thought that was a brave and interesting word to evoke, and not one you hear often in a work context. I guess part of ‘being’ is a sense of pleasure and playfulness.

Pamela: There are so many layers to this! In my experience everyone takes themselves so seriously and we would all benefit from being more playful, allowing ourselves to fail and try again. Pleasure is about going towards what gives you joy and energy, it’s connected to creativity, life-force energy. There was a great shift in my life when I started to prioritise pleasure and self-care, my choices became more aligned with my needs, my values, my boundaries and my purpose. I use pleasure as a guide, so if someone approaches me to collaborate I ‘listen in’ with my whole body to see if it’s something I want to explore, and make a decision based on whether or not I feel that it will increase my happiness and life-force energy.

Tarn: It’s a whole different operating system. Did you have to learn this, or did you always know it?

Pamela: I believe we’re all born with it, when you look at very small children you can see how they gravitate towards what they are attracted to. Attraction is a force of nature. 

I believe in what spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen calls the ‘evolutionary impulse’. I can feel when I am pulled, and I am always pulled in the right direction. That doesn’t mean I always experience pleasure, sometimes I experience pain, but in hindsight it was what was needed for me to grow and learn. You get into this flow when you follow what attracts you.
When we open up, then we can listen in deeper because our nervous system is relaxed.
Tarn: Like a magnet. How is this important when it comes to work and organisations?

Pamela: A leader should be tuned in and able to listen very deeply into what is going on in their organisation, and this means cultivating a wider intelligence than what happens in the mind.

Similarly to how the internet connects people across space and time, there’s a bigger force between people than what we experience in our heads. For example, my son lives in New Zealand but I know when I wake up in the morning whether or not he’s had a good day, because I can feel him. I’m not referring to God, but just life itself. 

I have to say right now I feel quite challenged answering these questions because I am still practising putting words to this!

Tarn: I’m so glad you opened up. I think this format of ‘interviewer’ and ‘interviewee’ is very limiting, I’m somehow asking you to present your perspective to publish to the world. It’s very individualistic, and I can see how it can become problematic. Actually we all need to look at the margins, at these links in between ways of thinking. It’s a big shift.

Pamela: I just so strongly believe that if we can allow ourselves to be whole with each other, then we start to relax and open up. When we open up, then we can listen in deeper because our nervous system is relaxed and then we can tap into this ‘third force’ between us and see what wants to emerge. I could bring in wisdom traditions at this point, but at the moment I feel like I just want to talk from my own experience. 

All I can say is that I have found that when I focus on self-care, self-love and self-pleasure then I create a life that is aligned with my needs, my desires and my boundaries. I become vibrant, and a very vibrant person is a magnet who attracts possibilities and other people who are vibrating at the same frequency. That’s why I am more and more determined to keep on choosing pleasure.
Pleasure can be very simple. It can be, as I did this morning, sitting by the lake, taking in the sun, taking in the beauty of nature.
As I said before, for me pleasure is connected to creativity and life force energy.  Pleasure can be very simple. It can be, as I did this morning, sitting by the lake, taking in the sun, taking in the beauty of nature, observing ice on the water. As a woman, I experience this in my womb, because this is the center of my body which literally creates life.

Tarn: Talking about wombs, this ‘feminine’ way of connecting with ourselves and others, does this also work for people without wombs? 

Pamela: My totally honest answer is I don’t know. I do know that right now I carry the perspective - and I’m very open to be challenged on this - that all human beings have feminine and masculine qualities. What we call feminine - or ‘yin’ - is this ability to step into the unknown and trust the process. When a woman gives birth it’s just chaos, that baby will make its way into the world no matter what she thinks or does. It’s beyond her control and she just has to ‘be’ and let it happen. I think this is a skill, whether we end up becoming mothers or not. I also see this in men who allow themselves to be guided by intuition and are capable of deep listening, so every individual has this capacity.

Tarn: A recent article by Indra Adnan for Emerge talks about nurturing the feminine in the public space. When society was structured so that the home was a feminine space and the workplace was a masculine space, we had a more obvious place to locate the feminine. Today there’s a rebalancing that’s needed. 

As a feminine person I find that I naturally like to observe and listen and let things pass through me, and by doing that I construct my opinions and worldview. Sometimes at work I find it hard to do that when a lot of people around me are just pushing through and offer their opinions very easily without giving space for other things to emerge. 
The more I step into my feminine leadership, the more I am capable of asking for what I need.
Pamela: I can relate. Two things come up for me. I have been well trained in my masculine, I’m fast and can be in charge. What I have practised is that when I am in public spaces with people that are very dominant and have all the answers, I ask for space in a loving and compassionate way without blaming, judging or being passive aggressive. The more I step into my feminine leadership, the more I am capable of asking for what I need. Sometimes it can be easy to fall into victimhood - “why are you not giving me space!” - but that’s not productive. If I try and take up space in a loving and compassionate way and am not given it, then I leave. Why should I waste my valuable time.

Tarn: This resonates with me. And it’s not just important at work.

Pamela: This is very relevant to the sexual space, for example!

Tarn: Exactly. Asking for what you need, which is something I’m interested in, I think there is a huge capacity for personal growth in the sexual space - how to hold boundaries, ask for what you need. Talking about sexuality, desire, attraction, these things are not often spoken about in relation to work!
Pamela: If I could just say one more thing about pleasure. Sometimes people get provoked when they hear me talking about pleasure because they think it’s about not taking responsibility or being hedonistic. For me, living a life of pleasure does not take away from taking full radical responsibility for your life.

Tarn: There’s pleasure, and then there’s hedonism. I guess one reading of it is that it seems to counter this Christian Protestant narrative of hard work and struggle being the recipe for a good and moral life. 

Pamela: For me pleasure is actually an indicator of integration. We can talk about consciousness and meditation, but we need to embody it. Pleasure is an indicator that I am embodying a conscious way to live my life. 

Tarn: In the context of feeling like you have an aim and a purpose in this world.

Pamela: If you look at the bigger picture of how we humans are living in this world, we are living beyond our own resources. Most of the business leaders I meet are also living beyond their own resources, and this means that they become stressed, burnt out and depressed. When we, as individuals, move into living from pleasure, then that means we are taking care to preserve our resources. This will reflect into the outside world.
Words by Tarn Rodgers Johns
Tarn is the Lead Editor of Emerge. Raised in the UK and based in Berlin, she is driven by curiosity and an incessant but largely unsatisfied desire to get to the bottom of everything. She is interested in psychology, human creativity and the changing world around us.
Photos by Denise Lissert
I am a freelance photographer and storyteller from Stockholm.