10 Important Things I’ve Learned About Desire

05272015

These are my tidied, mostly thrifted handbags.  They bring so much joy to my heart.  I still am finishing the last bits of decluttering my space.  It's a material sweep but on a psychological level, it's giving me so much more space and beauty in my days. 

1.  It’s completely ok to desire something. It’s completely ok to never not be desiring something. I can enjoy the life I have while wanting something else too.  I can want two opposing things at once. I can want the experience of being a mother and the freedom of being single.  I can want a consistent salary and the ability to create my own schedule.  There are no rules on this stuff and since the desire is coming through anyway, why not welcome it?

2.  We usually suffer because we feel like we already should have made our desires reality. Or because we were made to feel shame for wanting something when we were younger. I grew up thinking something was wrong with me because I was “too needy."  I’ve played that story out for so many years until recently when a wise mentor pointed out that kids who aren’t needy are actually kind of creepy. Realizing this dramatically changed the way I saw myself.  It's also helped me to see that my desires make me lovable instead of repealing people.  Once I changed this internal story it's amazing how my external story has changed along with it.

3. Often just admitting that you want something is all that you may  need. My friend Lindsey is the mother of two really cool little kids. She reminds me that children desire things all the time. They want cookies, kittens, more bedtime stories.  She says often just recognizing and affirming their desires is all they need. “Oh you want a kitten! Wouldn’t it be fun to have a kitten?”  They nod their heads and have already moved on to desiring something else.

4. We think we want the stuff (job, relationship, house) that comes from desire, right? Go deeper and think about that more.  We want everything because we think it will bring us an emotion of happiness or peace.  Listening to someone and being listened to brings a lot of happiness and peace.  You can make that happen now.  Go write in your journal or ask a friend about her desires. Use your desire to create more conscious connection in your life and see how it calms your overwhelmed heart.

5.  When I can sit with someone and listen to her desires without trying to solve them or make them go away, it feels so tender.  It's like holding her beating heart as a baby bird cradled softly in-between my palms.  This feels a lot like love to me.  I can practice this with myself too. When I want something so badly that it fills my whole body,  I can rest my hand over my heart and hold my beautiful, impossible dream with kindness.

6.  Desiring without completion -- aka loving the process without knowing how it will end -- is very feminine. Completion of desire at all costs is very masculine.  We live in a more masculine-oriented society. This may explain why it might feel strange or even wrong to desire something without figuring out how to make it happen.  Say this to yourself, “Oh you want a new job!  Wouldn’t it be fun to have a new job!” It feels better than kicking yourself for not already having found the new job, right?

7.  When I am desiring many things, I can feel it as a lot of sensation in my body.  Sometimes all I can do is breath into the sensation and feel the total aliveness of my being.  Sometimes when I am really feeling my desire, I get hit by a wave of grief.  It's grief for all the things I've wanted that haven't worked out.  It's also grief for what I will have to let go of if I want to move forward.  I'm coming to see grief as the twin sister of desire.  Since we are all so afraid of feeling grief in our culture, it makes sense that we would shut ourselves off from desire too.

8.  Desires can come true though!  Six years ago, before I was a yoga instructor, a new yoga studio opened in my neighborhood.  Suddenly I had strong desire to teach there.  At the time, I could barely balance in tree pose let alone do a headstand or arm balance.  Yet the desire burned strong.  I didn't know what to do with it so I just kept wanting it and started to speak it out loud.  A year later, when I finally inquired about taking a teacher training, I asked the trainer if I was ready.  She told me to trust my desire and everything would work out.  She was so right.

I’ve also desired many things that weren’t right. I wanted a job at Lululemon and now am so grateful they didn’t hire me.  I wanted my past relationship to work out to a storybook ending and now see I wouldn't have been happy in the long run.  Even as I write this, I grieve all these alternative endings.  There was such sweetness in their possibilities.  Yet I also feel so filled to the brim with the reality of my own luscious life and know all the sacrifices and supposed failures were what it took to get me to my current state.

9. Collective desire is fascinating to me. I was just listening to Parker Palmer talk about how before the feminist movement began, it was considered a personal pathology when a woman talked about feeling disconnected and disempowered.  Only when many women spoke up and joined their desires together did it form a movement. This movement has kicked some incredible space through rigid, oppressive structures over the years.  Personally, I’m so glad those first ladies got past the shame of their implied "problems" and had the courage to speak their desire for a different way of life.

10.  Lately I’ve been feeling a building collective desire to step away from the industrialized, results-at-all-costs orientation in our society.  It's obviously causing so much environmental and social damage.  On a personal level, I think many of us are exhausted and very ready for a softer way of being in the world.

Perhaps you are feeling like your anxiety and always-behindness is a personal problem. Isn’t it more interesting to consider it as part of a collective desire to shift to a connection-based, process-orientated society?  Is that an overwhelming thought?  If so, can we just love the possibility of that new future without knowing exactly how we are going to get there?  Is that soft and intricate, strong and beautiful, so much like the fluttering heart of a baby bird?

Of course I am curious about what you are desiring in your life right now.   Please leave a comment below and let us know.   Perhaps a few of us will overlap in our desires and just like that a new movement can spark.