How Desire Can Ruin Our Meditation Practice

August 30, 2018

 

A handsome stranger walks by and you think, "DAMN, I’d bite off a slice of that… "

 

The car you’ve always wanted pulls up next to you and you think, "DAMN, I wish I could afford that beautiful piece of machinery…" 

 

You are up for a promotion and your dream job is finally available and you think, "DAMN, if I could just get that job I would finally be happy…"

 

We want what we want, when we want it:

Desire is one of those things we can’t escape. Whether we realize it or not, most of lives are spent in pursuit or hedonistic pleasures. 

 

Pleasure seekers and happiness junkies are a staple in today’s society but unfortunately, a society based on desire (and the exploitation of desire through capitalism) leads to a sense of fear in this world.  

 

As with all emotions, desire is neither good nor bad. However, just like other common emotions if desire isn’t seen through the lens of mindfulness, it can become detrimental to our overall sense of well-being and health.  

 

The old cliché seems to hold true in that the more we get, the more we want, and nothing will ever fill that void we all have for “more, more, more.”  

 

The sneaky side of desire:

Desire can be sneaky. And I mean really sneaky—like super ninja popping out of the shadows sneaky. 

 

The majority of us don’t realize that we are being infiltrated by a subconscious and underlying “desire” that makes us feel uneasy and unhappy on a regular basis. For us, our desire runs much deeper than what most people see on the surface level and a large part of our day is spent dealing with the unconscious thoughts of wanting.

 

Don’t believe me?

 

Think about the last time you were able to simply sit in a room without any distraction. Did you feel uneasy? Did you feel like you should be doing something else? Did you think to yourself, this is a waste of my time?

 

Don’t worry if you did because that means you’re like 99% of us in that we are constantly looking for something outside ourselves to make us feel better. Our society is so used to instant gratification that it’s no wonder that we have lost the ability to just sit and be content with what we have.  

 

The thing is, most of us live in a perpetual state of the following desires:  

 

Wanting to be somewhere else…

 

Wanting to do something else…

 

Wanting to be someone else…

 

Wanting to have something else…

 

Meditation without desire

This desire for something else can follow us throughout our day—even when we meditate.

 

If we aren’t careful, our desires can begin to hijack or ruin our meditation practice. 

 

Desires such as the desire to be a “perfect” meditator or the desire to experience your meditation a certain way can cloud our meditative experience… 

 

If we spend our whole meditation session wanting it to be different, then are we really practicing mindfulness?

 

Luckily for us, there is indeed an antidote to our insatiable desire for more or for something different. 

 

As mentioned above, desire is just like any other emotion. 

 

So then, it makes sense that being mindful of our desires before we start a meditation practice will help us temper the sensations of “wanting” something to feel or be a different way. 

 

We can also use our intentions to help us curate a curious mind towards our desires before we even close our eyes for our meditation practice. Set an intention to be curious about your desires. See if that curiosity will lead you to some sort of insight about what you want in life. 

 

In other words, ask yourself: 

 

What am I constantly seeking?

 

Why do I want things to be different?

 

What is the prevailing want in my life?

 

The more we see these old mental mind patterns, the less power they have over us.  If we are mindful of the desires that pervade our life, then we can either act on those desires or see them for what they are—just another emotion—and thus distance ourselves from the feelings of “this isn’t good enough.” 

 

What we see in our minds clearly loses its power over us so be mindful of how your mind tries to trick you and your body into longing for something outside of what you already have. 

 

When you see the desire, don’t run away from the feeling… Lean into it. Don’t resist it and instead investigate how it feels to “want something.”

 

The more you know how it feels to want something the more control you have over that feeling and before you know it, you are completely content with what you have, right now, in this moment.

 

Conclusion:

In the end, “wanting” isn’t a bad thing but left unchecked it can take over our lives. Practicing a little bit of mindfulness when it comes to our desires can go a long way because there is a difference between a desire and an aspiration. Desires come and go but aspirations, as cultivated through a mindfulness practice, can be a powerful compass for how we choose to live our lives. 

 

So the next time you’re on the meditation cushion, be intentional about how you want to approach your desires. Be curious and compassionate with yourself as you investigate what the heart and mind truly want. 

 

Remember that want and desire are no different than any other emotion and they only have power insofar as you give them power. Cut out the excess “wants” in life and focus on what really matters. 

 

If you do this long enough who knows, you just might find that there’s nothing else in life that you really need.

 

Thank you as always for reading our blog! We hope you enjoyed our topic today and we would love to hear your ideas for new topics so be sure to leave us a comment and let us know what you want to read in the future. 

 

Thanks again and we look forward to serving you next Wednesday!

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