Day 18 of 30: Relating To Desire
Desire. I invite you to pause for a moment to feel into what that word means to you. What’s your initial feeling when you read the word? How about when you say it out loud? Does it inspire any immediate connotations?
Language is an odd thing. You can never quite be sure that a word means the same to another as it does to you. And more than likely it doesn’t, simply because of differences in personal experiences. Very true for the word desire, so let’s start with the foundation of what we mean by it in this case …
Here, what I mean by desire is the experience of bodily sensations and thoughts that accompany your experience of wanting something. Desire is neither good nor bad. There are wholesome desires. One that pops to mind is …
“I want to sustain a regular daily meditation practice so I bring more patience & understanding to relationships.”
Desires can be unwholesome. One that pops to mind is …
“I want to sustain a regular daily meditation practice because it is means that I am better than other people who don’t meditate.”
In each moment that you experience desire, checking out ‘what is this desire in the service of?’ And is it the desire that inspires the action directly, or are you harnessing the energy of the desire for a response of your choosing?
Desire can be very motivating. Certain sensations and thoughts can be powerful influencers to act. Desire is future-focused. It is a direction towards something you want … at some point.
Sometimes, desires may influence you to act immediately, putting aside your subset of thoughts about consequences. Sometimes you may feel almost like you had no choice, you had to act on the desire because it was so powerful.
One skill developed in your meditation practice is to pause. Pausing can be a start of breaking the link between a stimulus (in the world or within you) and your default reaction. In your pause, you re-connect with your choice.
So what happens when we sit with a desire and deliberately do not act?
Your meditation practice is about noticing more, connecting with your autonomy, and owning your freedom to choose. Your observer uses its powers of awareness to focus on relating with the subject of experience. In this case, the focus is on desire. You’re exploring your relationship with experiences of desire.
The invitation to you is to do a little prep before your meditation practice today. If you’re up for it, think of something that you want. On a scale of the power of this feeling, where 1 is very low and 10 is very powerful, choose something in the middle. You want it enough that it is important to you but not to the point of obsession or feeling devastated if it does not come to be. It could be either an object or an experience. You pick.
- Once you have something you desire in mind, set your timer and then practice calm focus meditation until you notice your concentration deepen.
- Once you notice a shift into a more calm focused state, please direct your awareness to imagining the object of your desire. Imagine it in whatever detail allows you to connect with your feelings of desire for it.
- As the desire arises, rest your attention first on your bodily sensations. If you feel comfortable, say hello to these feelings and allow them. Where do you feel them in your body? What are the felt senses of these feelings? Do you notice any shift in the feelings over time as you pay attention to them?
- After sitting with these feelings for a few minutes, please turn your attention to your thoughts. What do you notice?
- After a few minutes, now divide your attention between your bodily sensations and thoughts. What, if anything, do you notice about the relationship between your bodily sensations (e.g., quality, location, intensity) and what you notice in your mind? (Note: Periodically you may have to return to imagining the object to sustain your feelings of desire.).
- Lastly once your timer goes off, I encourage you to rest your attention only on your bodily sensations of desire for another minute or two to end your practice today. What do you notice when you rest your attention on the felt senses associated with your desire without acting on them, without continuing to imagine the object, and without giving any energy to the associated thoughts. In this last part, if you get distracted by a thought that arises, once you notice the thought, let it go, and return to your attention to being with the bodily sensations associated with desire.
That was a lot. Don’t worry too much if it today’s meditation did not unfold exactly as outlined above. It may have been the first time you’ve tried something like this practice. If so, I’d encourage you to make time to return to it a second time once you feel more comfortable with these steps.
If you’d like, please offer what you learned about the experience of desire and your relationship to it in today’s practice by sharing in the comments below. Please raise awareness of this content by sharing it using the social media icons adjacent to it. Please reach out to me if I can support you.
See you tomorrow!
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