One of the most important practices I had to master in finding my centre, my clarity, my integrity and my peace was diminishing desire.
When we desire something intensely, we are often willing to go off balance to acquire it. We end up rationalizing, abandoning morals, manipulating others, breaking rules and generally violating the golden rule, treating others in a way that we would not want to be treated, in order to pursue our desire. We seek sensation over sense, instant gratification that we know will leave us wasted rather than happy.
Whatever we desire we often justify our unbalanced rush because once we get whatever it is we desire, we will be happy, healed and ready to be centred. It may be attention or money or a job or something that brings us status, but whatever it is, if we just possess it, all our bent drive will suddenly go smooth and humble again.
Of course, that is just an illusion. Nothing external will ever fix us, make us better. There are no “special relationships” as ACIM calls them, no magical people or objects that remove our own obligation to mature the thought system which is the foundation for our choices.
I know how manipulative I was in the quest to get what I desired, the respect and attention that I craved. I also know that until I found someone who short-circuited that manipulation and made me face my own ego rather than trying to stuff the hole inside of me I was not growing and healing, not untwisting and becoming centred.
This is at the heart of Clarissa Pinkola Estés The Red Shoes, the way that our essential desire is take from us and replaced by commercial desire which lures us to binge but never really offers nutrition and growth.
Until we are proud and healthy in what we do for love we will never be ready to really open to love, past our walls of shame and fear. An open heart requires an open heart, not some manipulative, cheating short-cut, no matter how much our ego — our bear in the closet — tells us that we are entitled to as much as we can grab, whatever the manipulative tricks we need to pull.
A human life without desire is an empty thing. Many who want to diminish the weighty pull of desire in their lives do so by opening to what they see as a more spiritual desire, like membership in a church of some kind or other, allowing others to decide what desire is sanctified and which is base.
Desiring what we think we should want, though, often blocks us from receiving what is really out there for us. Commercialized desire is about chasing expectations and images, about angling for status, but the soul life is about trusting the feeling our heart, opening to the love around us.
Staying centred by diminishing the pull of desire, by detaching, by wanting what you have, by gratitude, by humility, by discipline, by grace, has been very important to my own practice. Instead of trying to play other people I get to hear my own voice, owning my own integrity and authenticity.
So many of my own emotional triggers were connected to a sense of neediness, a sense of lack that I believed I could fill with something outside of me. As I explored my own emotions, entering into them rather than trying to skirt around them, I found that to be the kind of person I wanted to be I had to get clear of those illusions and learn to rely on myself, learn to love myself.
As we learn to love ourselves we also learn better how to love others. We can be present for them without feeling our own buttons pushed. Becoming better is becoming better, either just for ourselves or for those who we are in relationship.
Everyone feels the pull of desire and will feel it throughout their lives. The question, though, is what we are willing to do to attempt to satisfy that pull, what cheap, unwholesome and desperate choices we will make to try and not have to look inside of ourselves to start healing those needs.
It is not the needs that damage us, not the emotions, it is the choices we make based on those feelings. Do we stay disciplined and honourable, finding balance, or do we get needy and manipulative, rationalizing what we know are bad and destructive choices in the name of desperation?
I know that I had to choose to just let desire be one part of what drives me, keeping my emotions in balance with my mind, my creativity and my transcendence. I had to diminish the pull of desire to find my centre.
I want to be be open to whatever comes, ready to embrace the surprises that are well outside of my expectations but still hold tremendous gifts and satisfaction for me. I don’t want to have to pander and shill, twisting myself into knots and dancing like a chicken on a hot-plate. I want to feel stronger everyday, at peace with myself, rather than feeling more and more ashamed of my own choices as I become more desperate and more rationalizing.
That’s why I chose to diminish desire and why doing that has left me much more focused and centred. I am not more lonely, but I am much better company to myself and also, if anyone chooses to open to me, a much better partner to others.
In the end, getting clear and centred is just what I found I desired most.