Using dormancy to reflect and gain clarity on what matters most. Using times in our life when desire feels absent to get clarity on what we really want, from a place of who we really are and what really matters to us.
The Union Path Podcast - A practical spiritual podcast about truth, awareness, and walking the path of unity.
The Union Path Podcast
The Absence of Desire
It's one of my beliefs. It's one of my core beliefs. It's one of the things that I've found, through living life. It just feels like a fundamental truth that's just proven itself over and over and over again. That one of the best wayfinding tools we have for finding our way through life is our own desire.
This idea of desire, it's one of the areas where words fail us a bit. Because desire has a lot of meanings and is a pretty charged word in and of itself, it's a pretty polarizing word.
Lots of people have lots of different opinions on what desire is, what it means. Is it good, is it bad? And of course, all those opinions are valid. What I'm referring to when I speak of desire, our wants, our pulls our attractions that are felt deep on the inside, deep down at the core of our being.
When I talk about desire, I talk about things that really light us up. Really energizes, really make us feel whole, really make us feel alive, really make us feel like ourselves, really make us feel like the fullest best versions of ourselves. This idea of desire is a little tricky because it really can be defined in a bunch of different ways.
Often how it's defined is in terms of superficial or base level wants. Usually desire is couched some sort of character flaw, some sort of impulsiveness to merely chase after appetites that are usually fairly transactional in nature that are usually us trying to get our needs met through someone or something else.
And when these base desires are fulfilled, whether it be our own vanity, our own greed, our own lust, whatever it is, not only is the experience itself fairly fleeting,
but whatever relief, whatever satisfaction we gain from having these quote unquote desires met is pretty fleeting as well.
We think about desire from a deeper level, desire that seems to be bubbling up from a deeper part of ourselves, from a more fundamental part of ourselves. The things that we really want, often things we describe more like dreams, passions, meaning the, those are the desires I'm really talking about. And one way of thinking about it really seems like these deep desires, these deep dreams, these deep passions, these deep wants, seem to be a future version of ourselves,
a more aligned, a more whole, a more idealized versions of ourselves, a more whole, a more deep, a more aligned version of ourselves calling us forward, beckoning us towards it, encouraging us, and guiding us and leading us to become it. We can learn a lot about ourselves by really paying attention and learning about on a deep level, what are we attracted to and what are we repelled by?
What energizes us, what de-energize us, what makes us feel alive, and a light and a glow, and what makes us feel diminished and dimmed and slowed? What makes us feel light? What makes us feel heavy? With desire, deep felt on the inside, the true desires of our heart and soul, there really is a resonance that we can key into.
We can really feel when something matches and when something doesn't. The difficult part about these realizations is that they're impossible to fake. We can try. We can try to delude ourselves, we can try to ignore it. We can try to rationalize and justify our own actions and behaviors. But deep on the inside, we know we know something's right or something's wrong, whether something's good or something's bad.
Whether something feels like us, feels like who we truly are, what we truly want, or it doesn't. I also believe we have these meaningful desires for a reason. We were born with them for a reason. We were born with them as a way to cut through the confusion of life, to make sense of what happens to us, to be able to use these desires as a barometer of truth. Something we can hold up against our experience and know something fundamental.
We can use these desires to really know a lot about ourselves, know what really matters to us, know what we really want, know what we really need. And conversely know what we don't actually want, what we don't actually need.
When we get in touch with these deep seated desires, we really get to know ourselves. We really gain an incredible amount of self-awareness, an incredible amount of clarity. We can use to not only inform our existence, turned away from our own desires and thus really turned away from ourselves. We can learn all sorts of ways where we've been trying to be someone we actually aren't. We can learn what parts of our life we've been trying to fake.
By aligning with our own desires, we can come more into ourselves. We can be more whole. We can be more unified. We can go through life with a much higher level of integrity because we found integrity within ourselves. Integrity as a sense of wholeness, a sense of realness, a sense of truth. And we can use these desires, these attractions, or these repulsions, it's a really handy tool, a really handy guide to go through life.
But there's another, there's another piece to this. Because if we accept this, we say, okay, this seems to make sense that I actually have felt the most alive when I've been the most in tune and the most engaged with my deep heart and soul sorts of desires, what do I do when I don't really feel that right now? What do I do? Perhaps I don't really feel much of anything right now. It feels like desires somehow absent, has somehow vacated my life experience and thus, what I do, just kind of feels like task completion or I'm doing things just to get them done. I'm doing what I can to get through the day to cross items off my list.
There's not really a lot of passion there. There's not really a lot of meaning there. It's really much more objective experience. It's based more around completion than a more subjective sense of quality or fulfillment.
These can be difficult times to sit in. These can be especially difficult times if we realize that desire is one of the best tools that we have to live the best life we can, but then realize that desire isn't really present right now, isn't really a feature of our lives.
I think it's sometime or another all of us go through this. All of us go through these times where desire just feels absent, feels missing, feels lost. I think there's a couple really important and really helpful things to keep in mind when these times happen. The first is desire is inherent to the human experience, and as such, it's always there. It may be very quiet, it may be very buried, it may be very obscured by all sorts of different things, but it always exists. It can always be reengaged and reconnected with.
And the other thing to keep in mind is states of life in a lot of ways are kind of like seasons. And we all experience different seasons of life and in times where desire seems absent, these can be thought of as the winter seasons of our life.
Winter is a very specific time. It's a very specific time marked by dormancy, really marked by dormancy of life. In winter, all life, or at least most of life, seems to still, even a lot of life that's around us, seems to largely go away, not be as visible, not be as interacted with as it is in the other seasons. And for a lot of us, I can speak for myself, for me, these winter seasons, both literally and figuratively, it can be pretty difficult to endure.
It can be pretty difficult to sit in these times of dormancy, but oftentimes those times just feel like waiting, waiting for life to come back, waiting for energy to come back, waiting for the spark and the motivation in the energy of life, to come back.
These winter seasons literally and figuratively can be a challenge to endure because oftentimes there can feel like there's so little life happening that we can feel like we're a tree that's lost all of its leaves. Under of the dark gray sky, it just seems to be waiting for spring. Nothing's happening, nothing's growing, nothing's changing. Seems like sun and warmth and energy are in very short supply. Life itself seems to be just sort of powered down, but there are benefits to these times. There's always a gift in every experience. May not be welcome, may not even really be that profound, but there's always something useful there.
There's always something useful for us in whatever's happening, and so when we're going through these times, when we're going through these times of dormancy, we just don't really feel that alive, we don't really feel that spark of life,
our inspiration is low, our motivation is low, our clarity is low, how do we get through these times? How do we endure these times, when we just want to get back to seasons that feel better? We want to get back to more doing. We want to get back to more joy. We want to get back to more growth. We want to experience a more fullness in our own lives. And oftentimes these winter seasons can feel so short on experience. So short on life force. And one of the things we can do in these times of dormancy is apply some reflection because there's always something to be learned. There's always some clarity possible in any situation. And these times of reflection could be really useful, could be really clarifying. We can use these times of dormancy as a time to really get to know ourselves better, really get to know ourselves through our desires and our basic needs through the feedback we feel from our lives. What matters to us? What doesn't really matter so much? What's meaningful to us and what isn't? What do we really want? What really moves us?
What do we feel energized by? What do we feel de-energized by? And we can sit with this awareness. Seasons have their own timing, and even if a particular winter season delivers some sort of monumental clarity, doesn't mean things instantly change. Seasons need to play out how they need to play out because part of us needing instantaneous change is part of us that's not really accepting what's happening, not really accepting ourselves, not really accepting our own experience.
It's requiring things to immediately be different either to assuage your own fear or discomfort. Really, just because we're just kind of impatient. If we find ourselves being impatient or needing change, that means at least a little bit, if not quite a bit, we've lost our grounding in the present moment.
We're now inhabiting the future. If we can stay with these seasons, even if they're not our favorite, there's still something to be gained. There's something to be learned. Growth and clarity is still possible. It's still available because the beauty about every winter season is that it's followed by a time of new growth. It's often followed by a time of rebirth.
These times spent in the darkness are always followed by the return of the light, and we can use these times to really ask ourselves, really ponder the question, in what direction do I want my life to grow? Is there sort of change that I either want or need to make?
Do we need to accept things more? Do we need to just resist life less? Do we need to learn to live more in the now instead of being so future focused and future-based?
Can I use this opportunity to just learn to abide with my own life? Even I want change, I want something different, can I hold those desires a little bit more softly, which will allow me at the same time to really engage and be present with what's currently happening.
Because these times of absent desire, these times of a bit of anhedonia, kind of the missing spark, the missing joy, the missing inspiration, the missing verve of life are meant to pass, are not meant to be permanent. So it's a bit of a balance. We can know that these times aren't permanent, but we can also be accepting of not needing to force immediate change. We can utilize these times of dormancy really to our advantage, to our own growth and evolution.
Oftentimes it could be enough to just know that we want our desire to return, we want to live a more desired life. We can use that awareness to illuminate any possible obstacles in the way of that. Because the thing about creating change is often motion or progress needs to be stalled, or at least slowed way down, before any change can be made. Life can carry such a powerful momentum to it. And when things are happening really fast, and moving really fast, those can actually be the most difficult times to change.
So we can use this slowness, we can use it as slowing down, we can use this reduction that naturally happens during the winter seasons of our life, to really start to craft what real change looks like. Really utilize this time to get an idea of what would actually be better, what would actually feel better? Where do I truly desire my life to go? What do I truly desire to experience?
How do I truly desire to contribute and serve the rest of life? How do I truly desire to be contributed to and served by the rest of life? All of these realizations are really useful, really helpful. And it doesn't mean, just by having them, everything immediately changes, but these awarenesses, these ideas, this clarity, this truth can really be the foundation that we use once things really start moving again. Once the energy returns, we can use these times of dormancy as times to focus us. It's time to really get clear in what really matters and what we really want.
For a lot of people, myself included, I think this was one of the funny gifts of the pandemic and its lockdowns. That when life was reduced to very little interaction, very few opportunities for outside stimulation, outside fulfillment, I think for a lot of people had a natural clarifying and centering and grounding and focusing effect. Speaking for myself, the main thing that I came through on the other side was realizing in almost kind of a funny way, you know, I think only a handful of things really actually matter. I feel like I've been living this life where I've been trying to serve dozens, if not more masters at the same time,
where I've been pursuing a myriad of all sorts of priorities, and it turns out only a subset, only a small subset, only a fraction of what I was putting my energy into actually mattered. And what a beautiful gift, because those lockdowns did end, the severity of the pandemic did pass. And what a beautiful thing that when it did, when interaction was possible, again, when the possibilities of life pretty massively expanded, at this time, I went into it with really only a handful of things that truly mattered. That in and of itself made life not only far clearer, far easier, but it really made the benefits far greater. Because the things that I was serving actually mattered to me, and the effects of that service were felt much more deeply because it actually mattered.
That's the funny thing about chasing and achieving things that we don't actually care about, there's not really a lot of juice there. There's not really, that achievement doesn't really turn out to mean all that much. And oftentimes when that happens, we just instantly look for new achievements, still chasing after outcomes that we think matter to us, that we think will make us happy, that we think will make us whole, that we think will make us fulfilled,
that we think will fill in the missing meaning, the void of wholeness, the void of fulfillment in our lives. And then when we're let down, we just go try to find more. Perhaps we think to ourselves, well, this didn't quite do it for me, so maybe I need something bigger. Maybe I need more things. Well, perhaps, what I actually needed more, fewer things. Perhaps what I needed is to be acting from a place of knowing what actually mattered to me.
Perhaps I need to have all sorts of false aspirations and ideals and values burned off so I could act much more from the core of who I really am. Go out in the world far more connected, far more grounded, far more rooted into what actually mattered,
which then made the interactions and the experience and the achievements of life far more meaningful, far more gratifying, far more nurturing and sustaining.
The beauty is we can always do this. There's always more refinement possible. There's always more clarity possible. There are always ways that we can better align our life, align our decisions, our behaviors, our thinking, our attitudes, our perspective, our knowing more in line with who we really are, and that's what really matters to us.
Connect with the desires within that actually matter. And these encounters with these winters of our life, no matter how skilled we get, no matter how much value we can see in them, sometimes they're still really hard, sometimes they're still really grueling. Sometimes they still need to be endured, but we can lighten the load on ourselves, by just dropping our resistance to them. Not feeling like we have to control every aspect of our life and we can let life have a say as well. We can walk through life from a far more cooperative place rather than simply a controlling one.
Every season of life is useful and we can find the value in whatever season we're in, if we look. We can let our own connection with how much desire or energy or joy or inspiration that we're feeling wax and wane as it needs to, and when it's dormant, when it's absent, we can use those times to refocus. We can use those times to simplify. We can use those times to know what really matters to us, what we really want. And then when the energy returns, we can use that awareness to live a life more full of these very things. We can live a life that feels more complete. We can live a life that feels more like us, more like ours, more real, more true.
The better we can experience our winters, the better our springs will be. The more useful our winters are, the more productive our springs will be. This is the beauty of these cycles of life. There's always value in no matter what's happening, and we can use the value in any particular part to increase the value in the next one.
We can find more growth, we can find more fulfillment. We can find more satisfaction and comfort and connection in our own life by really connecting with who and what we really are. We can use these times of dormancy, we can use these times of quiet and slowness, to make that process easier.
We can use these times where desire may be absent to not only really figure out what we actually want, but see if we can connect with the desire that's still present. Maybe it's something small, maybe it's something ignored. But to really ponder this question, what do I really want, deep on the inside? I feel moved by? What do I feel inspired by? What makes me alive? What lights me up? What fires me up? What engages my passion? What fulfills my meaning? And While pondering these questions, start to lean in this direction as possibilities and potential answers come in. Try and see.
Times of dormancy are great times for practice, we can do things on a small scale. If we don't have much energy, that's a good time to try small changes anyway. Because often they're fairly low risk and don't take a lot of energy to start. We can start from wherever we are. Our being is whoever and whatever we currently are.
We can always choose, we can always choose to act from what we know. We can always expand and enhance our knowing by trying, by trying to really know ourselves, by trying to really know our lives, by trying to really know what we actually want and what we actually don't. By trying to really know what actually matters and what actually doesn't, and then move forward from that place. Use times of dormancy, not as discomfort and frustration, but as a time to sharpen and enhance our own understanding of ourselves.
Because when spring does return, and it always returns, that will be the self that we live from.