We all have desires in our hearts—deep heartfelt longings that burn fiercely inside of us.
I heard someone say recently that finding total satisfaction would mean our death. A huge part of what drives us forward and keeps us interested in life is that we are never truly satisfied.
Desire is essential for us. If we were completely fulfilled, our lives would get boring. There would be no new horizon, no new summit, no new experience to strive for. We might as well pack our bags and move onto the next life.
Now, desire has a light side and a shadow side—like everything else in this world. There is the positive aspect of desire, which is the lifeblood that flows through us and inspires us to have new experiences and chase our dreams. On the flip side, if we are not careful, our desires can completely take us over and run our lives into the ground. This is the place where natural desire crosses over into addictive behavior.
I have an interesting relationship with desire. After nearly six years of living with a severe chronic illness that deeply limits my capacity, there have been many desires that I have not been able to fulfill—namely going to college, training mixed martial arts, partying, traveling, and overall living like someone my age.
Desire never really goes away—it just becomes transferred to something else. For me, the desire to do all of these things have moved into my writing, meditation, self-inquiry, and my spiritual practice. If I hadn’t found an outlet for my desire, I would be in a world of trouble.
Although desire is a fundamental piece of our humanity, it doesn’t make up what we are in the depths of our being. We are not our desires. We are the aware presence that dwells beneath desire, beneath thought, and beneath emotion. We are the field of consciousness in which all of this unfolds.
Desire may lift us up and give us the energy to actualize our potential, but I believe there is so much more to human beings than stimulation. Desire may be the thing that drives us, yet there is still the “us” that is driven—the deeper layers of our spirit that extend far beyond the horizon of our particular cravings.
Sometimes, I am completely overwhelmed with desire. I’ll have something that I want badly, and I won’t be able to get it out of my mind until I have it. This might be for a person, for a specific kind of food, to go to a nature spot that has some deep meaning for me, or to take a few puffs of a joint after a long day. It might feel like I’m not exactly “in control,” as though my consciousness has taken a backseat to this burning desire that has now taken the wheel.
How should we deal with moments like these?
For one, I need to remind myself that desire is a part of life and that I shouldn’t feel out of sorts for wanting something deeply. Two, baring this in mind I allow desire to completely flood through me. I let it wash over me without any resistance. It is our resistance to desire that often creates pathological behavior. When we stop resisting the natural flow of life, we take steps toward well-being.
So, I allow this overwhelming desire to flow through me and wash over me, without actually attaining anything. I just feel it. I let it take the wheel for a few moments, before taking a few calm breaths, and relaxing into it. Relax into desire. Resist nothing. After doing this for a couple moments, letting myself dwell in the space of pure desire and want, I let it go. I realize that I get to choose, and that attaining this desire would be a privilege—rather than something I desperately need.
From here, I can decide whether I really want it or not, and if I do seek it out then it’s a conscious choice. This is how I prevent addictive tendencies from growing inside of me.
We need desire; in fact, we would be dead without having any desire. It is what feeds the flame of our aliveness. It is what nourishes our existence. Though, if we don’t have the awareness to be able to exercise our own free will over desire, we descend into chaos.
You can have desire, just don’t let desire have you. When we are in alignment with our true nature, desire can be enjoyed for the beautiful energy force that it truly is. That’s a good place to be.