In thinking about desire and about my upcoming workshop offering around this topic my mind keeps returning to this quote:
“The obstacle to our continual satisfaction is that we reduce our desire instead of allowing it to blossom out over all objects. A reduced desire blocks the fluidity of consciousness, sensations, thoughts, and emotions. When a single object takes an exclusive place in our mind, when our being reaches towards this object in a sort of contracted tension, the movement ceases within us and suffering finds its home in us.
On the other hand, when our desire occupies all of space the absence of one object goes totally unnoticed, because the flow of our awareness remains free to come into contact with thousands of others.” –Desire, Daniel Odier
And in particular this line: A reduced desire blocks the fluidity of consciousness, sensations, thoughts, and emotions.
Blocks the fluidity of consciousness.
A reduced desire blocks the fluidity of consciousness.
It’s almost as if these words have been haunting me in a way that makes so much sense.
My relationship with desire has been to block it off. Block it, as well as pretty much any other emotion or person who may illicit emotions I’d rather not experience. Over time it has become quite difficult to discern what was being blocked off – pain, pleasure, joy, anger. This, I’ve learned is quite normal especially in terms of coping mechanisms. But the coping mechanisms are meant to only be there for the time needed to cope and then it’s time to move on and let them go.
So how did blocking of desire become one of them? I think it became easier along the way to assume that good things don’t happen and that everything I want keeps getting taken away from me. So logically, isn’t it best to just not desire in the first place? To not have any expectations in case they aren’t met? That way obviously nothing can be lost because there’s nothing I want or can be excited about. “Simply” block it off. That way I won’t be disappointed with the inevitable outcome later.
This all seems quite juvenile and stunted in growth of holding onto pure absolutes as I look at it now with more awareness. To see that truly a large part of my consciousness has been blocked off for a very long time. To say I can see it does not mean it’s now flowing freely, the block completely removed. Far from it. But my mind is opened to seeing the necessity of letting it flow in order to have a healthy consciousness and not one that is so splintered and stagnated in this area.
To speak of objects and desire in the material form – last week I lost my favourite hat on the train. I was distracted and got up only to sense it falling from my lap but not realizing the truth of the matter until I had walked across the platform and was seated on the next train. I felt instantly sad at the loss of my hat. It was all my favourite colours and I was subtly angry that I had lost it. I couldn’t quite let it go. I tried to believe “maybe someone who really needs that hat to stay warm will find it” or “the universe decided the hat needed an adventure”. Within the lens of desire I watched my responses.
I told a few friends and my mom about my loss, hoping to solicit some care and empathy. I then told myself “you have plenty of hats at home, let it go”. Only to be met with “but that one was my favourite hat”. Then my thoughts drifted to this concept of desire. Couldn’t I let my desire flow out over all of my hats equally? Couldn’t I just choose another one to wear and also love it? I’d waiver between this and the fact that hat was my favourite. A few days passed and I was still clearly not able to let the hat go. Suffering. What I noticed was that I was now starting to elevate other hats I had. Thinking, “perhaps that one can be my new favourite… or that one” as I brought each one to mind. “No, stop it – that is not the point of this – the point is to allow desire to not only fall on one thing but to flow – a new favourite just gets me into the same predicament”. And as I thought about it more I realized that this favourite hat I lost is one I had only just re-found in my closet about a month before. I had completely forgotten about it until we were reunited. It’s as though it was found only to be lost. It wasn’t even in my mind before then and now here I was suffering because my desire for it had grown into such a strong attachment. Flow. Let the desire flow over everything.
The past week (starting with the hat day) I’ve felt a bit off and just not quite “with it”. There seems to be an overwhelming cacophony of reasons why this may be happening and I’m not really sure which thing it is making me feel not well. Is it mental? Physical? Massive energetic releases? Family members who potentially aren’t well? Upcoming dates marking past loss? Did I have the flu but it was impacting me differently than normal? Therapy work? I took a few days off to rest, and definitely needed them.
And yesterday I had appear this thought – so very small. “Help”.
“I’d like help”.
But with what? I don’t even know what is wrong. What do I need help with?
Which made me think further – do I have to know what is wrong in order to ask for help? Hm. Does something even have to be “wrong” in order to ask for help? Hm.
I suspect that the answer to both of those questions is “no”. It isn’t so absolute.
I have never heard this voice before nor have I ever thought about help in this way. I didn’t feel anxious by this thought. I felt quite calm and just listened to it be there. I didn’t feel desperate or in great need.
My guess is that for most of my life I’ve believed that if I can figure it out by myself – the what is wrong – then I no longer have to ask anyone to help. Obviously if I know what’s wrong then I will be able to fix it and can simply block the help out. Block it out.
Help. The voice was so clear but so quiet at first. It continued to grow. Help. I want help.
Desire. I desire help. I have absolutely no idea what that means or what it looks like. I do know that they are two things I have never really allowed. Which means they are two parts of my consciousness that have been cut off. Are they different parts? Or one and the same?
Can I allow myself to be helped? To say I need help even if I don’t know why or for what reason? Can I desire even wanting help in the first place?
My thoughts moved to practicing yoga on the mat. I’ve been to so many classes where the teacher has adjusted me in poses. I never once asked for that help (other than by virtue of walking into the room). But I always always always allowed it and received it with a feeling of being grateful. And it truly is helpful each and every time. To me it continues to be a great part of attending classes – to receive this help even when I’m completely unaware that I even need it or what it is that I need.
How does this tie into the hat? No one on the train said anything. I saw people watch my hat fall to the ground and look at me and no one helped me. I can see their eyes witnessing it. More than that hat, I desired the helpfulness of strangers. The help without having to ask or to even know what it was I needed in that moment. And not one person said anything.
So what are my choices? To decide to be angry with every person and believe no one will ever help me? (So that I have to figure it out and do it all by myself?). Or to start to allow that small voice way back in the recesses of my mind to grow and continue to surface. To let myself fully desire help. To desire and embrace it even if it doesn’t look like how I might think help looks on the surface. To let it pour out and over and around me. To not only desire it but to receive it to have a relationship that flows around and through and with it. To see that maybe help can be quite sweet. And maybe isn’t in relation to something being “wrong” or having done anything “wrong”. Ultimately, to practice not blocking it off. To desire help.
Though this still limits desire to one aspect and not all, it’s one more opening of consciousness I didn’t have before.