“You are what you desire”. This is a great insight. It is a popular thought in Eastern thinking, particularly in Buddhist thought. This desire creates suffering and if it is not satisfied, the desire is even greater, which more often than not leads to greater discontent.
I’m reminded of the old adage, “Chase the world and the world runs away. Stop running and the world comes to you”. We often get so caught up in chasing the desire that we lose ourselves and the illusive nature of the very thing we want taunts us. Frustration befriends us.
This lack of satisfaction and craving prevents us from living fully in life, but there are always ways to combat this urge.
It’s one thing to set goals and work toward those goals, it’s another thing to let that take over your life to a point where you are not attending to the other needs of your life – connection, wonder and solitude/contemplation. Each of these actions attends to the basic tenants about why it all matters.
New Year’s is a great time for resolutions. Consider a few spiritual resolutions to combat the nagging desire for what reminding yourself what you don’t have.
How do we stop chasing desire for a time?
- Silence the mind. Ha!!! Spoken like a true single man. I know parents are laughing at this right now. Parents don’t have a moment for themselves. It is there, though. Seek it out even if it is just five minutes.
Take time to pray, meditate or yoga. Focusing on your breath, settles all concerns. Taking a few minutes out of your day and focusing on your breath automatically calms you. It has been proven that watching the breath automatically slows you down. It takes you to another place and channels your energies to find the center.
2. Reconcile with feelings and own your feelings. The Jesuits have a great discipline of a daily Examen. It helps us see what God wants for us in the deepest centers of our hearts. Look at your day and see where you were your best. Consider the parts of the day that need work. Where was God in your day? Did you allow God in to it? Lastly, consider something you would like to work on for tomorrow. Say a prayer and be grateful for the day and call on God to help you work on this.
- Act selflessly through service. When you get out of yourself, the self-centered desire to remind yourself what you don’t have dissipates. One hour can do it. It’s the beginning of the year. Try it for a week or two. Not only will it take you out of yourself, but it will also help you develop the most valuable skill of empathy.
- Attend to a friend in need. Seek out those seeking company and sit with their concern. Cultivate the art of listening. Don’t talk about yourself. Have a cup of coffee with a friend or family member and seek out where they are in life. Tell that person that “this time is for them and you are not going to talk about yourself”.
This single act can help you identify a special place of understanding on the path of your relationship. It not only affirms your special relationship, it identifies key aspects.
- Create. A perfect day for me includes serving others, exercising, learning something new and creating something beautiful. Maybe you don’t have time to write, or paint. You can still create a beautiful meal by training your eye on the act of creating. The gift of creation is an act of co-creation with Creator. When we attune to a place of gifting art to God, it takes our work to another level.
St. Augustine wrote at the beginning of his “Confessions”, “You’ve made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you”. Our lives are made to be restless, but the recognition of God can alleviate the tension. Acknowledging this fact at one point in your day will serve you well.
It is true, “you are what you desire”, but our ability to include God in our experience and the process of making manifest our dreams helps us realize our dreams in a deeper way; rounding out our lives through connection to ourselves and the world around us helps us attune to our world.
May this New Year ring in your deepest desires with grace and recognition of the powerful blessing that you are.