“Desire is the engine of creation. Desire is an evolutionary impulse. Desire leads the way home.”
We live in a culture where we glorify and congratulate those who follow the rigidity of schedules, diets, regimens, and to do lists.
Where we’re more prone to denying our needs because in doing so we nobly show self-control and temperance.
Where our imperviousness towards macarons, reality television, and sleeping in past 6am make us to be a warrior of some kind—one who has all the composure and sensitivity of a robot.
I don’t think I have to tell you that we are not robots, yet we regulate, govern, and maintain strictness with our delicate needs as though we were.
Many of us are suffering silently the callings of our hearts to indulge, to feel, to impulsively and deliberately quench the thirsts of our souls. We suffer because we choose to go against our inherent tendency for pleasure, for goodness, for ecstasy, for joy.
I’ve been working with women one-on-one in the realm of sexual liberation, but we almost always end up on the subject of desire. Not just sexual desire (though that’s part of it) but some more general—what it is they want, what it is they crave, what it is their bodies, minds, and spirits are begging for, and how they can attune themselves to desire’s whispers (or boisterous bellows) so that they can finally feel harmonious in their bodies and in their sexual expressions.
It always starts with this one simple question: What do you desire?
When I hear this question, my mind swarms with its own ideas and visions:
I desire cherry pie. I desire the feeling of water lapping at my feet. I crave connection. I desire a good night’s rest. I desire a good, hearty fuck. I desire succulents and succulence. I desire to surrender to my desires.
But it’s very rare in my coaching practice that a client of mine can answer that questions outright without hesitating or side-stepping, and finally admitting defeat—“I don’t desire.”
It’s as if for them to speak aloud the things and feelings they crave so earnestly, so deeply within their bones, is to speak foolishness or admit selfishness or to acknowledge a part of themselves that is better off buried underground.
For them, there is far too much shame and guilt that accompanies desire, so they denounce its existence and vow (unconsciously, usually) abstinence.
But I hear it in their voices. I feel it in the space between their pauses. They are teeming with desire, practically bursting with it. It’s following them around like a shadow; it has never, ever left them. They’ve just chosen to not acknowledge it.
And they say, “I don’t know what I want, actually,” or, “I don’t think I have any real cravings.”
A brief pause. Then:
“I just feel something inside of me that is dying to be expressed. Like, sometimes it would be nice if I could flow more and feel more connected to others. . .” They cut themselves off and heave a sigh that signifies more pondering.
And on the other end of this, I am squirming excitedly in my seat, arms practically flailing, going, There! There it is! Did you catch it? It came from underneath the shame for a moment and showed a quick glimpse of itself! Did you see it? Did you see desire?
They often don’t and that’s OK.
So we start small.
This what I tell them:
“For the next seven days, your assignment is that you do anything and everything that turns you on.”
I sense that their ears prick up. “Anything?”
“Anything,” I repeat. “It doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t even have to be rational. You could want to take a bath at midnight or eat chocolate cake for breakfast or masturbate after a long day at work. Whatever your body is asking for, whatever your psyche is hankering for, you give in without hesitation.”
And then I explain to them that if they’re at all like me, they’ve probably lived most of their lives denying themselves of pleasure and satiation more than they have allowed those desires to be respected.
“So let’s put the shoe on the other foot,” I challenge. “We know you’re great at control, at practicality, at logic. Let’s see what would happen if you played with whimsy, pleasure, and spontaneity. Let’s see what would happen if you allowed yourself to have whatever it is you want.”
Now, each time I suggest this to a woman whose desire muscle has atrophied, I always expect there to be a grimace or a pause of trepidation on their end. Instead, I am given the greatest gift in the form of their excitement, their willingness to try, and their sincerest joy at being granted permission to not only desire but to act on desire.
They coo, they “Awww!”, they thank me. I sense their bodies and hearts softening. I am thrilled for them.
But sometimes they don’t know where to start. Sometimes being given the key to the city of their desires is too much too soon.
So we start even smaller.
This is what I suggest:
“I want you to carry around a journal with you everywhere you go and for the next seven days, I want you to jot down anything that makes you sparkle, anything that puts a glint in your eye or makes your senses activate.”
“This could be the color of the paint peeling off on your neighbor’s lawn chairs,” I continue. “This could be the last few notes of a song that you happen to catch on the radio. This could be the way your barista made your latte. Anything that makes you come alive—if only for a fleeting moment—write it down.”
Again, they soften. Writing down their favorite coffee drink? This is doable.
Desire is lofty. The energies around your desires can feel heavy, cumbersome, relentless. So perhaps “desire” isn’t the word you’d even use; perhaps it’s lust, hunger, gnawing, yearning. Or, perhaps it can’t even be expressed with words but in feelings: an urge to release, like the cap on a shaken bottle of champagne; a deep tension in your belly.
Whatever words you use, however it manifests for you, desire is big. But it’s doable.
And if you’re not sure where to start with your desire, start small. Graze the edge of desire’s cup with your lips, tasting just a little.
Your body, your heart, your soul will know exactly what to do next and how far to go.