Element Emptiness Month 9: Craving and Desire pt. 2

Posted on July 18, 2009
Filed Under Breathing practices, Buddhism, elemental work, emptiness, Taylor Ellwood | Leave a Comment

6-19-09 I’m feeling out of sorts today. This is one of those days where there’s missed connections, where everything feels slightly off. It’s a day where I feel the craving to be filled a bit more sharply. A day where nothing I do really satisfies and underlying everything is a feeling of loss. I hate those days. They don’t happen often, but when they do occur, no matter what I do that day, it feels like nothing got done. Sad though, measuring the day by what got done or didn’t…yet I do it all the time. There can be benefits for doing it, but is that really the only way I find worth?

6-22-09 Envy is one of the shadows of desire. Feeling envy is like feeling pointy, sharp knives being stabbed into you…Each stab is a fresh reminder of the pain you feel. Just one of those nights.

6-27-09 I’m alone this weekend. My wife is off with her boyfriend and I have our home to myself. In someways, though, I’ve felt fairly alone lately, because the emptiness working is intensifying and I’ve also been letting go of a lot of my cravings when it comes to wanting other relationships…letting go, but also feeling.

It is the act of feeling which allows for the letting go. I’ve never realized as much as I do now how much I sometimes have found value in myself through the relationships I have with others. I think some of that can be healthy, but can get unhealthy if the value is only because of those relationships.

I want to be involved with someone new…be dating someone…and I acknowledge that. But I also accept that if and when it happens, it will occur because it’s the right moment…which doesn’t mean I’m not looking…just means I’m less frantic about it.

And more appreciative of the relationships I do have with wife, family, and friends. It’s wonderful to have people hwo genuinely care about you and love you and want you in their lives. I appreciate that more than ever because having those relationships is what’s helping me get through this emptiness working.

6-29-09 As I’ve continued doing this emptiness working, something which has come into my consciousness more has been an awareness of other peoples’ emptiness. It’s consequently made me more aware of what I am comfortable dealing with and what I’m not comfortable dealing with. I think every person has some degree of emptiness in them and I think it’s not unhealthy to have it, but how it’s expressed can be unhealthy. When I’m around someone and that person wants something from me, in a way that tries to fill that person up, I know it’s a case of trying to fill up the emptiness. In some ways, it’s a kind of psychic vampirism. And until people get comfortable with their emptiness, and understand how they are reacting to it, it will cause them to act out in ways that involve trying to fill themselves up. I know this, because it’s been that way with me, most of my life. Only recently have I come to a place where I’m not acting out that emptiness…but because I’m aware of that emptiness in myself, I can also feel it in others, and see it in the behaviors they exhibit.

7-01-09 Sometimes an event will occur, which triggers issues for me from the past. Frex I give someone a gift and that person doesn’t exhibit as much enthusiasm or interest in said gift as I hoped (expected) s/he would. On the one hand, Lupa’s pointed out that I tend to build up some expectations as to how someone will act when I give that person something. And there’s some truth to her observation. I do sometimes build up an expectation on how I think someone will act or react to something I do and that can lead to disappointment and isn’t fair to the person either.

But in thinking about it, the root of this issue is in feelings of neglect. My honest feeling wasn’t so much disappointment, as a feeling of neglect, of not being noticeable enough, worth enough to be shown consideration to. And yes that issue can lead to high expectations, but when I trace it back to myp ast, I trace it to my childhood, where I was essentially an indentured servant. I was expected to do a lot of chores, and was rarely, if at all thanked for what I did. In fact, I was usually only acknowledged when I did something bad. Everything good I did wasn’t worth noticing or paying attention to. And sometimes…I still feel that way. Now, that isn’t the fault of anyone I know. It’s my issue to deal wih, my issue to own, but part of owning it is acknowledging it, being honest about it, and recognizing what triggers it. And also recognizing what I need to do, to decondition that trigger.

7-3-09 I recently added a new business to my entrepreneurial gig and in the midst of doing that got some real gems for my emptiness work: Humility is believing in yourself and in abundance. It’s believing you have everything in the world to offer and also believing that everyone else does too.” It’s an interesting definition of humility, and one I find compelling. And what does it have to with emptiness…Simply recognizing that everyone does have something to offer. It’s a shift in thinking that focuses on recognizing the value that each person has. And for me, this is a shift which has been occurring for a while, since the advent of my entreprenurial focus. And when I’ve come to this view, it’s changed some of my feelings about emptiness, because I recognize more and more what it has to offer to me as well.

7-03-09 There are times where I still find myself struggling with being completely open and upfront. I want to be open…but there’s also that part, which doesn’t want to be open. That part is the part that learned early on that being open was a bad idea, that it would be used against me.  And rationally I know I’m not in that place anymore…I’m not that child anymore, but emotionally my issues with the authority that someone could have with my life is one that makes me feel uneasy. That uneasiness brings its own contributions to how I handle situations where I want something, but might have to get someone else’s approval to get it. Sometimes I really have to muster up my courage to bring something up, because of that uneasiness. It’s gotten easier to deal with over the last year, but its still something I have trouble with occasionally.

7-06-09 This month so far has been quieter than all the other months. Sure some stuff has come up, and there is still an awareness of emptiness, but at the same time there’s also a quietness, a kind of calmness…and not the calmness before a storm, but more like a calm centeredness of knowing myself and knowing emptiness and feeling collected and grounded with both.

7-10-09 Sometimes I will catch myself in a stream of thought that is focused around desire and in that moment acknowledge just how much that desire occupies my thoughts. It’s useful for recognizing just how much I want something, as well as asking whether that focus is really helping or not. It’s showing me as well the place desire has in my internal landscape, and now I’m learning how to sit with that comfortably. It’s not always easy, because sometimes I feel overwhelmed by how much my thoughts can sometimes go toward desire, but learning to sit with it is teaching me a lot about how I feel when I feel desire and can’t act on it. I’m seeing what underlies desire, which sometimes is a feeling of emptiness and fear, and sometimes is a desire to connect.

Some further realizations. Some of my desires deal with taboo, the desire to do something forbidden. When I thought about that and traced it back, I found the root, of course, in my past. Because I lived in a very disciplined household, one of the things I did to get power in those situations was to go behind my parents back and to lie to them. If I could get away with something, I took it as a triumph. And I see that same behavior in my life, over and over again through my twenties, and to a lesser degree my early thirties. Never mind that the root situation is gone…there’s still this desire to do something forbidden, and the pleasure of getting away with it. I’m not acting on that desire now, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have fantasies about it. Today when I had such a fantasy, I spent a lot of time thinking about it, sitting with it, and figuring out where the desire originated from. And having done that, I can say that it makes a lot of sense to me, but it’s no longer needed. I’m not in a situation where I’m dealing with some authority over me restricting me from enjoying what I like. I’m in a situation where I have that authority and ultimately responsibility for what I do. Needless to say, that gives me a lot of incentive to continue working on this stuff, instead of acting out on it.

7-12-09 I’ve been re-reading Epstein’s works on Buddhism and psychotherapy. Seemed appropriate for the emptiness working. In one of the books, Epstein talks about realizing that the pain, anger etc., isn’t something you can remove, that instead you’ve got to sit with it and work through it. The same is true of desire. You can’t remove it, and you do need to work through it. It’s something which needs to be experienced, but in a manner that allows you to know that you are truly at peace with how it makes you feel. You can’t eliminate the emptiness, the desire, the anger, because it’s something which is part of you. We treat it as the other, because we don’t want to deal with it. But it’s only in sitting with those feelings, that we can find peace with them.

7-13-09 I am simultaneously comfortable and uncomfortable with my desires. I am comfortable in the moments I express them, but uncomfortable with having them…and it’s fairly easy for me to figure out the root and where it all came from…but sitting with it and being present with is something else I’m still learning to do.

7-17-09 Sitting with my desires today, I realized just how important it is sit with them and be silent in that sitting. And by silence, I don’t mean not talking, so much as I mean really listening. I still don’t feel any more comfortable with it, but I do feel like I’m finally ready to listen as opposed to frenetically acting.

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