A few weeks ago, I overheard an interaction between a mother and her child. The young boy, likely 3 or 4 years old, said to mom with a clear voice: "I want that!" I believe he was referring to the half-eaten lollipop in her hand, the one she was quickly wrapping up.
Mom, seemingly irritated and physically pulling back from the young boy, replied with a raised, shrill voice: "You DON'T want that!" The boy shrank in response, lowered his head, pushed out his lips, and whispered under his breath, "But I do."
As I walked away, I couldn't help but wonder what the boy learned from this interaction and how it might affect him in the future. What happens to us when we are told, or taught, that we do not actually want what we want? What happens to us when our wants are not heard or when they're denied?
What happens, if you will, to a want deferred?
Does it become more difficult, as we grow older, to know what we truly want? Do we start to feel confused every time we want something? Do we begin to doubt our own instincts of desire? Do we become guided by what is "good" and what we should want, rather than our own internal--be it inexplicable--gut feelings?
Just think, for a moment, how many times have you wanted something and then tried to convince yourself that you do not actually want it? Perhaps it's a chocolate chip cookie, a second cup of coffee, a new pair of shoes, a different career path, or something else, something that you felt you wanted and immediately told yourself: "You don't want that!"
But maybe, just maybe, you actually did want it (or still do).
This meditation on want is timely because it relates to the element of autumn in Chinese Medicine. As Lorie Eve Dechar explains in Five Spirits, autumn has to do with "the aspect of our unconscious that speaks to us through our desires, obsessions, psychosomatic symptoms and the wordless stories of our bodies" (p. 239).
What I understand Dechar is referring to are the sensations, feelings, and emotions that arise in us as an organic response to life. It is these very feelings that can act as guides to a deeper and more fulfilling friendship with ourselves, to psychological development, and self-realization.
But we have to hear our very own feelings first. (click "Read More" to continue reading)
Alas, 'tis clearly here. Cooler temperatures. Stronger winds. Leaves changing color. Some falling. Some hanging by a thread. Ahhh.... Autumn!
Yes, autumn is here, and it brings with it an opportunity to slow down, reflect, let go of what no longer serves you, and marvel at all of your accomplishments.
But accepting change, saying goodbye, and even cherishing your own treasures isn't always easy. Our lives are busy, our to-do lists long, and our hearts fragile. The bright side is that the tool with which to invite ease this season is right under your nose--BREATHING!
Every chance you get to take in a deep(er) breath, to let out a slow exhalation, and to notice how it all feels is good. Paying attention to your breath connects you directly with the present moment, with who you truly are, and with the signals your body is giving you right now.
With this connection, you can respond to what's happening in your life from the authentic and resourceful you (instead of going on automatic or reacting to what others think).
I'll leave you with a quote (origin unknown to me) that I used to say to myself repeatedly a few years back, and I honestly think it saved my life more than once: Just breathe, everything else is optional!
Please share your experience, insights, questions, and thoughts below, especially...
Shira Oz-Sinai is a spiritual teacher trained in iRest® Yoga Nidra meditation and Soul Lightening Acupressure®, two modalities that share the common principle of noticing what arises in awareness as the foundation to living life with ease and in deep and loving friendship with yourself. These are her musings.