Hungry ghosts are typically depicted as having huge, empty bellies and tiny pinhole mouths that can not take in enough substance to fill the emptiness.
I often get strange looks when I say that I coach people in orgasm and desire.
Some are fearful. Some are wary. Some are really excited (then get a little shy and embarrassed after their effusive expression). Others have this painful look that says, “I wish I could live that life, but ____ won’t let me have it.” Then there is the inevitable, righteous no: desires are bad.
We should all aspire to be desire-less. Giving into desire is weak, drains you of energy and makes you lose focus. There is no spiritual enlightenment or freedom in the realm of desire.
However, I believe most of these people are confusing desire with craving. I agree that desire is a powerful force that brings up a lot of stored emotions, including fear, anger, jealousy and other emotions that we label negative. But this is just the debris that sits upon our power.
Craving is a “quick fix” or a “soft alternative” that keeps us from doing the dirty, hard work of digging through that debris to find the desire-treasure at the bottom.
How do you discern your deeper desire from an empty craving?
Here’s my totally unbiased, in no particular order, “Top 10” comparison:
1. Desire generates more of your energy, whereas craving steals it.
2. Desire brings you closer to your authentic self, whereas craving disconnects or numbs you to him/her.
3. Desire is internally motivated (i.e. comes from the need to express a personal value within), whereas craving is externally motivated (I have to have this thing so people will think I am a good person or won’t see my vulnerabilities).
4. Desire leaves you nourished and gratified, whereas craving leaves you bloated and hungry (the gourmet meal vs. Chinese take-out comparison).
5. Desire is motivated by courage and faith, whereas craving is motivated by fear.
6. Desire reveals itself as your life purpose, whereas craving reveals itself as addiction.
7. Desire encompasses the full spectrum of possibilities whereas craving looks like a rat hitting the same lever for the same food pellet.
8. Desire feels alive and organic, whereas craving feels frozen and static.
9. Desire is the bridegroom of orgasm (your infinite power source), whereas craving is in a co-dependent relationship with resistance.
10. Desire brings you to a state of empowerment, whereas craving has you feel like life is yanking you around on its leash.
A great first step in the work of cultivating desire is this: when you feel a want arise, slow way down and listen to your body. Your body has no judgments or shame about what it feels. It simply wants what it wants.
Feel the sensations as they arise. The heat across your chest. The tightness in your throat. The throbbing in your genitals. In this spaciousness of simply sitting with the energy of your desire, you can begin to tap into what it is you really want.
Listen deeply. Notice the little hungers and what emotions come up for you when they speak to you. Have patience, and cultivate compassion for what you hear—it may not always agree with your pre-determined idea of what being a “good” person is. It may not follow the rules or align with all the great plans you have mapped out.
You can try to ignore it, but in the end, desire always wins out (even if it has to sneak up behind you and kick you in the ass). Celebrate your desire and be grateful for it. It’s your ally, friend and one true north on your journey.
Editor: Jennifer Cusano
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