I was first drawn to Argentine tango because I had always wanted to do partner dancing—and when I first saw this dance form while peering through the window of a dance studio on a snowy January night, every cell in my body said yes! It was deeply sensual and sexy. Little did I know then that this passionate dance form would also be a way of connecting my soul and my body in a highly focused and pleasurable way. Over several years, I taught myself to relax into the sensation of being supported by a man while feeling completely present in my own pleasure. Learning this dance form, which is more like a mindful martial art than anything else, was one of the most difficult, but ultimately most rewarding, endeavors I had ever attempted. Years later, my daughter Annie, who had recently moved home for a sabbatical, said to me, "Mom, I don't want to horn in on your 'thing,' but after hearing you talk about how incredible tango feels, and having experienced it myself, do you mind if I go to tango with you?" That's right: my sophisticated adult daughter from New York City wanted a piece of my over-50 lifestyle.

Normally, when we hear the word "pleasure," we think about sex, but sexual pleasure is a whole-body experience of all the senses. All pleasure is sensual in nature as we allow our bodies to dance with the creative energy of the universe. Life itself is sexually transmitted. Immersing ourselves in a state of vitality, whether through a discipline like Argentine tango or any other activity that takes us out of our heads and back into our bodies, allows us to feel the miracle of our physical being. It also allows us to participate in the birthing of a new world even as we rejuvenate our cells and our spirits.

I don't want to knock ministering to others and contributing to the health of the world, or the joy we receive when we give of ourselves. I have experienced the intoxicating feeling of satisfaction that comes from assisting someone in the emergency room or during a difficult labor. What I want to encourage is the reclamation of the power of pleasure, which comes from the divine force of the universe. Pleasure is a divine gift to us. It should be a discipline practiced regularly to establish happiness and joy in your body and your life. Sustainable pleasure is the ultimate prescription for good health.

All the goddesses of pleasure are associated with sensuality, with being present in our physical experience and not cut off from our bodies or our environments. Embody the goddess energies and enjoy pleasure, sensation, and the joys of self-replenishment. Embrace your joyous, sensual, earthy nature and stop giving away all your energy to other people. This isn't frivolous. It can save your life. The late poet laureate of New York State, Audre Lorde, was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer that had spread to her liver and was given six months to live. She continued to thrive for another eight years. She wrote, "I had to examine, in my dreams as well as in my immune function tests, the devastating effects of overextension. Overextension is not stretching myself. Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." Several years ago, I took Audre Lorde's teaching about the health-promoting value of self-care to yet another level. I was invited to teach at Mama Gena's School of Womanly Arts Mastery Program in New York City. I intuitively felt that what these women were learning and practicing, the deliberate pursuit of pleasure, was most likely having a very positive effect on their health. To test my hypothesis, I asked those who had experienced health improvements to please line up at the microphone to share. I was astounded as, one after another, they spoke of resolutions or remissions of diseases and conditions ranging from arthritis and ovarian cysts to abnormal Pap smears and even bowel cancer—all of which happened after these women chose to fully experience pleasure, with no apologies. Pleasure is powerful medicine indeed. We know this to be true because our bodies are actually wired to repair and renew themselves optimally when we are happy. To be ageless is to know the incredible power of pleasure to better our lives and the lives of people around us. As the saying goes, "When Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." And when women choose pleasure, pleasure becomes abundant for everyone.