I have never felt like I am able to function so well in society. Simple tasks like riding public transportation, social encounters, job interviews and general maintenance have always been a real challenge for me. I believe that, because of this, I skipped trying to create social status, follow rules, and build a career. Instead, I threw myself into my soul path at a relatively early age, something I instinctively already knew how to do. My internal world has always been rich and I often have had to traverse it alone, which has allowed me to develop a solid, trusting relationship with my inner guide and intuition. I have come to the point where I feel a strong need to share with others what I have experienced in my life and how I continue to experience life. There are lessons that have unfolded from my personal journey that feel universal, and I am curious about how they will look once they are out in the world. I am curious about the form my words will take to describe what I have learned, and I am even more curious about how they will be transformed by my listeners or readers. I suppose this blog is an experiment with words, with which I have not always had a harmonious relationship. My hope is to express something true to me, let it go, and allow it to change over time. I will begin this first post with a general layout of my understandings. These are in no way conclusive, but I feel it is necessary to begin to put language to my mental framework before I dig deeper into sharing my experiences. I hope to get more personal with what I have learned, but first, here is a simple map of what life has taught me:
Life wants to live. You are life. Like all life, your life wants to live. This basic truth of life is expressed through growth. Growth is comprised of our beauty nature and our healing nature.
Our beauty nature is our essence, it is what makes us unique. True beauty is unlike anything else. There is nothing that needs to be done to attain this beauty; it is inherent to your unique form. The beauty of your deepest nature is beautiful because there is nothing else like it that has ever existed or ever will exist again.
Our healing nature is the moment-to-moment expression of our beauty nature. It is comprised of all of our failures and successes, downfalls and gifts, disabilities and abilities. It contains both our wounds and our medicine. It is pure creative expression, in both the construction of our ego and fears, as well as the development of our gifts and our ability to love.
Growth, if left to its own devices, spends life integrating all of the parts of our healing nature in order to get closer and closer to a pure expression of our beauty nature. All of the hardships in life activate our poisons. Think about a personal hardship that you have gone through; it could have either been stimulated internally or externally. Consider your common response to hardships. Is it anger, sadness, greed, fear, anxiety or insecurity? It could be a mix of several! These are your poisons. They are not bad, but put in place so that your medicine can get strong, so that your light can shine through and your gifts can find a place in this world. This is the natural pattern of growth, of life wanting to live.
But, how do we step aside to allow growth to take its natural course?
I believe that one way of answering this question is by following the heart’s desire. In my experience, the heart’s truest desire is freedom. The heart’s desire wants us to be free to express our beauty and healing nature by transforming our poison into medicine; taking each hardship in life as an opportunity to unlock our gifts. In essence, the heart’s truest desire is life wanting to live to its fullest potential. There are many more desires that each unique heart holds, and every one of these desires is aligned with the deepest desire of life wanting live.
The only way to arrive to the deepest desire is to follow the path of the heart’s many desires. There is nothing you need to do with your heart’s desire but deeply listen to what it has to say, and allow action to unfold from that truth. This is how it is different from other desires. Usually when we think of desire, we think of goals or material wealth, but these are not necessarily part of our heart’s desire. They are also not necessarily excluded from our heart’s desire. Many religious paths talk about desire as if it is a bad thing. I believe that this comes from a lack of trust in life. It is true that desires coming from the ego can throw us into vicious cycles of greed, hatred and ignorance. But the desire of life wanting to live is not an ego desire, it is a heart desire, and it is wise to learn how to discern the difference. Carissa Pinkola Estés says, “”The way to maintain one’s connection to the wild is to ask yourself what it is that you want. This is the sorting of the seed from the dirt. One of the most important discriminations we can make in this matter is the difference between things that beckon to us and things that call from our souls.” We may have a million desires beckoning to us from the concepts that we have of ourself. We take these desires on from a feeling of lack. They are the desires that look to fill the places where we don’t feel loved. Our feeling of lack may feel that it desires a partner, a new car, or a different career, but really what we are desiring here is love and acceptance. These are things that “beckon to us,” when love and acceptance are what “call from our souls.” The heart’s desire is something that is already there, lying dormant inside us, wanting to be lived. In contrast, the ego’s desire looks outside to distract and take us away from our heart’s desires.
Ego desire often looks for a way to live out your story of yourself and reinforce your sense of separation from life. For example, if you think you are fat and therefore ugly and unworthy of love, your ego desire will look to eat more and more food to reinforce the image that you have of yourself. It is likely that you often don’t even stop to enjoy this food, because you are too busy hating yourself or feeling guilty that you are eating it. Then comes the punishment! The ego loves to punish and reward. So after you have eaten a large meal, the ego punishes you so badly that you think you must go on a diet. So you spend a week starving yourself, thinking that you are doing well. Your ego is very proud of you and you are rewarded for being so good at denying yourself food, but in the shadow lurks the other side of ego waiting for you to fail so you can be punished again. This cycle comes from a feeling of lack, fundamentally a lack of love, which is how the ego was first created and continues to live.
The heart’s desire comes from a feeling of abundance. It is centered in love, the truest nature of all things. Many of us have so little love that we don’t even know where to begin to love ourselves. But love is everywhere! Love is not dependent on another person, the size of your body, or how big your paycheck is. Love is unconditional and boundless. You don’t have to do anything to find love, because it is already present inside of you and everywhere around you. In any given moment there is enough air to breath, solid ground to stand on, the perfect balance of water inside your body to keep you alive, sparks of fire that keep you warm, ignite your movement and guide your creative expression. Love is in the pleasure of being alive. You can find love in the sun coming through the window on an early winter morning, in holding a warm mug in your hand as you drink your favorite tea, in listening to your favorite music, in mourning the death of a loved one, in resting in bed, or in running to your next appointment. There is so much love put into the creation of your life that you can find it in every sense you have. Love is being present with the miracle of life. It is available in every moment through sight, touch, smell, sound, and taste. It is not selective of your joys and pleasures; it also accompanies you in your grief and despair without judgment; because it is just what is, without any story attached. Love does not reject the ego either. We are complex beings with infinite shadow and light, thoughts, personalities, and the ability to dream and fantasize. Our ego is part of this Whole, and love knows that. Love is the way out of the vicious cycle of lack that the ego creates, because love is abundant. No matter where you go or what happens, it will always be there, available to you in every moment. Love looks at the ego and doesn’t see anything wrong. From love’s perspective, there is nothing to fix or hide. It simply sees the truth: the ego is a story of lack told over and over again within a sea of abundance. There is nothing wrong with that, but when you can see both, you get to choose which one to believe: direct experience with the world around you or a story of separation?
Ego desire also looks for a way to be more comfortable. It will either avoid or actively fight any unpleasant confrontation, hard truth, or real fear because it does not want to be challenged. The ego may actually be living out a very uncomfortable story, but it is comfortable in its discomfort. It is comfortable with its pity, lack, and fear. It would rather pretend, hide, or play games. It looks to be better or worse than others because its story is created from a feeling of lack. The ego seeks to reaffirm this story, and it is comfortable with that story no matter how unpleasant it may be.
In contrast, following your heart’s desire can often lead you right out of your comfort zone. Right next to your deepest desires often lie your biggest fears. This is perfectly designed to challenge you to choose your heart’s desire (love) instead of fear. Because love, life and abundance support the heart’s desire, when you make this choice, you are also healing your fears, feelings of lack, and sense of separation. The feeling of the heart’s desire often looks like the feeling of thrill, a mix of fear and excitement. It is everything you told yourself that you cannot do and be, or you should not do and be, mixed with everything that you have always wanted to do and be.
The heart’s desire is not always so eventful. It comes in lighter forms as well. In fact, before getting to the kind of heart desire that faces you with your biggest fears, you often have to start listening to the simplicity of your heart. This starts with allowing yourself to feel and find pleasure in your life being lived, just as it is. As I have said, the deepest desire of all things is simply life wanting to live. To be lived fully, there are many fears to face and desires to hear. But there is a natural design to this path, and love has woven it. If love is the pleasure of life being lived, then each step is available in the present moment. Following this natural design allows the heart to open to its truest desire at its own pace and in its unique style. There is no need to put on armor and get ready for battle with your personal demons in order to conquer your biggest fears. This will only make you feel like you need to put more armor on, which is definitely not loves plan. The heart’s desire does ask you to face your fears, but step by step, moment by moment, your heart knows when you are ready.
So another aspect of listening to your heart’s desire is trust. I remember a science experiment that I did as a child. I planted a seed in a tiny pot and put it in a shoebox. Above the pot, I layered the box with several cardboard shelves, in which I cut alternating holes on different sides of the shelves, forming a zigzag pattern up to the top. These holes lead up to a hole in the top of the box where the light entered. My experiment was made to see if the plant would follow the light. The plant found each hole where the light got in and followed the path I set for it. Life knows how to grow, because that is what it is designed for. Trust that your life wanting live knows the way. You don’t have to do anything but listen. The more you let go of everything you think you know about yourself, the more you will see the choice before you: the choice of love, abundance and life wrapped up in each moment, waiting to teach you everything you need to know in this one, small life you have been given.