“What are you longing for?” a friend (who trains in zen-coaching) asked me recently after I had told her how I’m feeling (some insecurity about whether my decision to quit my job and go the direction I went was “good” or “bad” is still coming to the surface from time to time).
What a question…and yet, I quite immediately realized: “I long for trusting myself. For doing what my body wants me to do, my heart, myself. For no more having that much need for external approval.” Like teachers, therapists, family members, peers who still often need to tell me, “It’s ok what you do. You have the allowance. You can!” so I can feel more secure (or they say the opposite and I become insecure).
I was myself surprised by that answer. How come I – who is often loaded with self-condemnation, guilt and indecisiveness – suddenly believe that there’s a way I can trust my own body, mind, desires?
Displaced Desire vs. Desire
I’m following an online-programme called “Dietary Transformation from the Inside Out”. It‘s not about “healthy” or “unhealthy” diets, but gives a whole new (at least for me) understanding on our attitude towards food. And towards life as such.
The founder of the programme, Charles Eisenstein, shows his listeners how we can distinguish between different desires. There are those based on the nutrients our bodies actually need, and those he calls “displaced desires”: sweetness, for example, we often crave when we lack intimacy, connection, a feeling of being ok in this world…
When knowing that our psyche and body work this way, we can re-establish trust in our desires. And give us what we need according to their trigger (body, mind, senses). He invites participants also to stop trying hard to eat healthy or be a good person.
Self-forcing doesn’t work. Instead “I’m gonna do something just because I want it.”
Instead, Eisenstein promotes that you tell yourself, “I’m gonna do something just because I want it.” (And if you don’t know what you want, start by not doing what you don’t want). Because anything else is going against nature. Humans are free beings, they don’t want to be enslaved.
Self-forcing doesn’t work – just as teaching kids on good and wrong doesn’t work by telling them what they should (not) do: as soon as they’re teenagers they will realize that they can avoid punishment by simply lying to their parents. In the meantime, they miss an opportunity to experience the real impacts of their actions (and how to deal with them).
The ability to discriminate between right and wrong comes from experience, not from a rigid list of “do’s and don’ts”
This explanation took the doubt away that was still lurking in my mind on whether I can just trust my desires – and stop approving or condemning myself, feeling guilty about certain decisions. Won’t I become totally lazy, behave bad and get out of shape if I just do what I want? No. Because my experiences will tell. Our body and mind are reliable teachers if we liberate ourselves from self-force.
The seed for this knowledge growing now inside me was mainly planted in the Yoga-teacher-training in Bali last spring. It is one of the reasons why the Vedanta teaching has blown me away: “a value is my value only when the value of the value is really valuable to me.” My teacher Sharada says, “We need to enquire into the values. We follow them not because we should. We follow them when we realize what we lose by not following them: peace of mind.”
We won’t improve our actions, thoughts and words based on a rigid list of do’s and don’ts (as we may know from religion or society). We Whimprove by getting to know the value a value has for ourselves.
Consequently, one of the values of Vedanta is Saucam – cleanliness of the mind – among other things from self-condemnation, from guilt, from fear. And Eisenstein says, “Life doesn’t need to be painful. The battle against oneself is not necessary.”
Enjoy the feast. ⭐🎄🤶🏼
Thank you Ariane and Sharada for reading through! And to Siri from Our Fertility for recommending me Eisenstein’s programme.