There is a gift that comes when we choose to lengthen the gap between our desires, and the fulfillment of them. When we open the grasp on whatever it is we are craving, like a hand unclenching to an open palm, releasing our contraction around it. That gift can best be described as a sense of inner peace.
Inner peace is stillness, quiet. It doesn’t sound glamorous, but to someone who has experienced inner turmoil and the noise that seems at times impossible to turn off, inner peace is a soothing balm, a medicine.
In fact, underneath what we think we want, is the deep hunger for a sense of peace, because it is the wanting itself that hurts. By satisfying a longing, we rid ourselves of the feeling of wanting. A stable state in which we are neither pulled outside of ourselves by desire nor pushing the world away because of our aversion, is peace.
We can choose this peace. In the moments when we feel gripped, hooked on desire, unable to see past the object of our immediate craving, infusing space into the situation so that it feels a little less hijacking, is choosing peace.
It is no more than zooming out to a bigger picture, sometimes a much bigger picture. To realize that, if we stay with our desire instead of satisfying it, a half hour later it will be changed. We will still go to bed at night, wake up. The sun will set and rise. A much bigger world will be waiting for us.
Slowly, through our willingness and our choice to be with our deep discomfort, we learn that our survival and our contentment does not depend on the fulfillment of those “gotta have it now” desires. In fact, we are a lot more spacious than that, and it’s just a habit of the mind that in those moments we feel we will perish without the satisfaction of a certain itch.
Immense peace is on the other side of our discomfort.
Curiosity will get us there. We can ask, what is on the other side of this mountain of desire?
If I stay with my desire instead of quenching it right away, what will I find?
When we stay with ourselves in these difficult moments, we are living in intimacy.
We may realize that the part of us that was afraid is an old part, a part we are ready to grow out of in order to inhabit a bigger space.
We may realize we inherited it from someone, that it was never ours, and neither was it theirs.
In this world, we as beings share the burden.
Now that we are facing it, what will we do?
Will we heed the call, the call from deep inside to, as Eleanor Roosevelt put it, “do the thing we think we cannot do”?
I believe it’s worth it.