You are currently viewing Working with Desire and Aversion: Part 1

Working with Desire and Aversion: Part 1

It isn’t the food that we want – what we want is the “wanting” to go away.

That deep bottomless hunger that doesn’t quite know what it wants. It says it wants mars bars, or french fries, or bananas and peanut butter – but once we get exactly that, it doesn’t satisfy.

There’s still longing, “wanting,” there.

And it’s the wanting that we attempt to make go away.

Isn’t it?

We walk around the world largely ruled by our senses.

We like this, we don’t like that.

We turn towards what we like, and away from what we don’t.

And this causes us a great deal of suffering.


When we like something, desire is born. We have a hard time being ok with just liking it ~ we feel the need to own it, to make it a part of us. This is called “grasping.” And if we do come to own it, the desire is gone – for a moment. Responsibility is born, a whole different ball game. Now we have to take care of that thing. The original desire we felt must be transferred to a new thing, and we are urged, sooner or later, to look outside of ourselves yet again to satisfy that deep seated itch.

When we dislike something, it creates aversion. We suffer because we fear that we will have to live in close proximity to that thing, or it will somehow infiltrate our lives or ~ worst case ~ we will become it.


Is it possible to live without the death grip of aversion and desire? 

Is it possible to experience both hot and cold, for instance, without preference? Just experience them as qualities. And not get caught in the story of, “I like this” or “I don’t like this.”

One of my favorite practices for learning to identify with something deeper and more constant than my senses, is to experience discomfort.

I regularly take freezing cold showers and jump into the cold plunge at my local pool.

You see, I love warmth. And cold has been something I’ve made enemies with my whole life.

Then, after a skiing accident up at 11,000 feet elevation, I had no choice but to wait alone with a broken leg for four hours while my boyfriend skied down to get help. I crouched in a bush, unable to move much and in excruciating pain, on all fours, trying to avoid sitting directly in the snow. It was just me and the trees breathing, and a little snow hare that came and checked on me every once in a while.

The cold welled up around me. I couldn’t move my body to stay warm, and the sun was going down. I think it was 12 degrees when the rescue team arrived.

My feet and hands were swollen from hypothermia.

Fortunately, I made it down the mountain with the help of my boyfriend and the rescue team.

But my relationship with cold has never been the same.

In those four hours, I got to know the cold very well. To understand its properties, not on the level of intellectual mind, but on the level of my heart and my body.

The wisdom centers.

Now, it simply doesn’t bother me the same way anymore. And that is a great deal of suffering off my plate. It seems the more things we make friends with in this world, the easier time we will have.

Do you have something like that in your life, something you are averse to?

How can you make a conscious effort to spend more time with it?

This is how we learn that what we fear won’t kill us, and inevitably become stronger as a result.

Happy Thanksgiving my dear friends.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

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