March 2007 archive

Desire vs. Craving

Desire occurs naturally in our lives. It is an expression of our infinite creativity and energy. When we relax and let go, we can be swept along by this desire, and life feels effortless. Every day we move about our lives like this. We sleep when we are tired—we pause for a minute to stretch to release tension in a muscle—we find ourselves hungry and therefore we eat.

We move into craving when we fight or pervert our natural state—instead of letting go and doing what comes naturally to us. We ignore our desire to go to bed because a craving has arisen to stay up—despite the fact that there is no reason to stay up. We may find it hard to “motivate” to do yoga practice, but as we relax and fully engage into the present moment, the natural desire emerges to release tension in our bodies. Food cravings send us to the store to buy chips we don’t even enjoy, when our desire is to eat simple foods that we enjoy—or perhaps our desire is to not be alone.

Yoga is designed to help us release into our natural state so that our desires become obvious. To practice is to follow the flow of these desires without confusing them with cravings. We know our yoga practice is going well when we feel that our life requires less effort. Flowing with our desires expands our energy, while cravings seem to exhaust us.

We all have limited amounts of craving and unlimited desire. Keep your practice simple and joyful. This will allow desire to flow through you, and cravings to begin to diminish. May our food cravings fall away effortlessly and our true paths open up before us.

Thinking Holistically

As human beings with brains, we have the tendency to be reductionist. “This chocolate will make me fat” or “I ate too much today—I’m going to gain weight” or “Carbs go right to my thighs.”

While pinpointing individual aspects of our behavior can sometimes be useful, stepping back and looking at the bigger picture is more likely to yield an “Aha!” moment.

Yoga practice encourages us to back away from these reductionist thoughts and relax our mind—from this place wisdom emerges, showing us our larger patterns of disharmony, so that we may allow them to correct themselves.

The practice of regular asana with relaxed full breathing creates a shift in consciousness. A mental spaciousness is allowed—these larger patterns begin to become obvious.

Obsessing on what not to eat gives way to holistic insights? Possibly—you realize the real issue is that you don’t give yourself enough time to sleep—you’re always tired. Or the oatmeal you’ve been eating every day for breakfast just doesn’t keep you full throughout the morning. Or your job drives you crazy and all your weight issue stem from there.

So participate fully in your daily practice and allow yourself to “step back” from your scattered thoughts. From this place insight will occur naturally—and change wil soon follow.

May we all be nourished so that we may nourish others.