After reading Jacob Nordby’s article on loving one’s longing, I had a remaining question:
How do we know, really, how do we know which are the authentic longings, the voice of the soul?
Jacob says: “You see, when we begin by taking the journey into learning Who We Really Are, then we can ask that Self what it truly desires. From this point, we are ready to go for those authentic longings with a whole heart.”
This could be why I’m still stuck in Houston, Texas when I would rather be elsewhere. I’ve spent most of my twenty-plus years here reaching mid-life and eventually waking up to being more than just a wife, worker, and parent. This awakening was disruptive to all those roles I had previously thought defined who I was. And I was focused on those roles, not some overall “Who I Really Am” thing.
I had trouble disentangling myself from being needed by others. On the other hand, abandoning everyone and everything I was “responsible for” just created more suffering all around. I figured later on that this was the problem of identifying my longing with my brain and its ego fears. Our ego helps us stay alive and pushes us to pursue action in the world, but having that part of our mind as the source of our ultimate longings seems to increase suffering. It’s the craving you have to watch out for.
That’s it! The craving is the clue that my ego is longing for something because it’s afraid of the consequences of not having that, whatever it is. You can feel it, the emptiness of not having that iPad (I’m indexing a book on the iPad, which I do not have, so that craving for the new gadget comes to mind), or that love relationship, or that adulation from the crowd. That empty stomach feeling and the low-blood sugar headache, the hours since you last had a nicotine or caffeine or chocolate! hit. See the negative aspect here? Craving is all about wanting something that’s missing, to temporarily relieve the suffering.
Digging in now. So, if I keep chasing stuff and experiences that fill the emptiness, or run away from stuff and experiences that seem to create that feeling of lack, it’s going to create a vicious little circle, or even a spiral downward into more lack, more suffering as each thing I grasp for to fill the emptiness doesn’t fill it. That’s rough.
Stop. Breathe. Look around and inside at what is not empty. House is full (too full—need to purge stuff—stop it!). Tummy is full. I can move; I can breathe; I have a loving partner, wonderful children. All is swell, right this second. There’s my soul! Just hanging out in the present (’cause it likes presents). Does the soul have longings? Wouldn’t that mean that it’s dissatisfied with this life that it created? No, it feels satisfied to me. Just sitting here, writing.
So, why change anything? Where’s the authentic longing? How do we go from “all is swell” to “let’s go!” And where? Expansion. That’s it. Like a supernova (it contracts, too, later, so it’s a cycle, and the soul is OK with this). What direction? All directions. Uh-oh. Human mind is not good at multitasking. All directions is stressful, stretch-ful. Wait. I can expand while keeping the core of me in one place. And the expansion will have a shape, a focus, a color (or more than one color), but I get to choose the shape, the color(s).
Does my soul have favorite shapes and colors? Sit. Breathe. Be full. Spheres, curves. and purple/green/blue/red. OK. Soul has preferences. All is swell, and (not “but”—”and”) soul longs to be curved, purple/green/blue/red. We have somewhere to go! Ego is feeling a bit more comfy with this. It likes goals. These are kind of nebulous, though. Need to concretize, plant, grow an activity or a thing that expresses this longing for curved expansion into color.
Why? Because soul has preferences and therefore is here to create experiences to express those preferences. How do I know that what I am experiencing is what the soul longs for? Ah, expansion. Does the experience feel like expanding (body or mind, doesn’t matter). Expanding lungs to run marathon. Expanding paints on a canvas. Expanding soil to grow veggies.
Me. Here are my expressions of expansion: Hugging people. Talking or writing about fascinating people and other subjects. Reading the messages in archetypal symbols (Tarot reading, but not just that). Stitching yarn and space in curved lace shawls of many colors. Writing feelings into poems to connect with other souls.
Sit. Breathe. Be full. Feel what makes your soul expand. Go do that. Then come back and tell me who you are.