Where’s the Love?

How are you at receiving, really taking in, the love and abundance around you? In the clamor of everyday life, can you feel the great joy that is your natural state?

Me, I sometimes struggle.

I know in my head that I am loved and respected. I have a beautiful family, gorgeous friends, lovely colleagues, several spiritual communities. Love is all around, but I often can’t feel it. Old brain training and all—what we do and don’t get in childhood becomes the patterns of our brain in adulthood. It’s a fact. But it’s not our deepest, fullest truth.

Which is a good thing, because not truly experiencing love not only leaves me soul-starved and set up for some kind of soul-crushing, body-hurting binge, it frustrates the heck out of people in my life. It’s not nice for them when I deflect their affection.

Today while I was cycling in the park a simple little idea popped into my head:

Start where I am! I adore music, dance and other movement, and nature. Why not load up on these fun, nurturing things and sink way down into them as they are happening. Deepening my experience with these safe, joyful activities, I know from brain science, educates body and mind for ever-deepening enjoyment of the bigger, deeper, eternal joys of life.

I can’t just wait for these times to happen. I need to put fun stuff on my calendar, and let them happen fully, then slow down to feel the delight in my throat, chest and solar plexus. The sweet, cool, relaxed sensation that comes, that’s love. That’s contentment. That’s serenity. Unshakeable. The real deal. Infinite, eternal, sustaining, curative, centering, powerful.

Thus educated, my system is all the more ready to receive love and joy. Here’s another little secret: I don’t do this just for me. When I feel full and fed, I am stronger. I can reach higher and deeper, make stronger connections and be the peace I want to see in the world and in the people around me.

How about that?


Find more like this at gayedelman.com.



Bad, Bad Me

Low self esteem. Lack of confidence. Hero or zero. Egomaniac with no self esteem. Fraud syndrome.

To the world, I look pretty good on paper. I’ve even been told by mentors of my editing BABY GAY Edelmanand coaching practice to tone down my qualifications in certain circles because I was scaring people. In all areas of life, many people seem to like me. In my personal life, many do love me, seriously, deeply, truthfully.

And yet. Deep in my chest lived the ugly and sure sense that I was bad, bad, bad. Not just human-bad, with greed, small-mindedness, selfishness, venality, carelessness. Not just those. But something innately, organically, factually, awful about my very being. Otherwise, this badness said, the errors and omissions perpetrated during my budding years wouldn’t have happened.

Pain is powerful. It directs and guides, if we listen and treat rather than medicate and obscure.

Generations of trauma challenge the psyche. Trauma goes to the bones, the cells, the neurons, and rearranges truths.

It does not go to the soul. Only obscures it.

Forty years of therapy. Thirty-two years of 12-step. Twenty-five years of marital arts. Twenty years of energy training and work. Hundreds of thousands of words read, thousands of words written. Seventeen years of faith work. A lifetime of warm friendships and robust family connections. Millions of lovingkindness moments shared.

Hammer, breathe. Hammer, breathe. That was the rhythm of my everyday life. If I were good enough, everyone would love me, no one would hate me, life would be perfect and there would be unicorns, fairies and rainbows.

But the badness lingered, popping up any time I was less than perfect. Which, as you might imagine—perfection not being a human quality—was often.

Last Thursday morning, for reasons known only to my Higher Self but no doubt fueled by those decades of tough work, a big decision pushed its way into me.

I accepted my badness. I said to myself, “Okay. This is how it is. I am bad, and bad is how it’s going to be. I’m a very bad, very bad girl. So be it.”

Awful. Horrible. Hateful. Really, truly, deeply bad.

And that’s just fine.

Ha! Bad, it seems, is where it’s at.

Pop! Poof! Away went the lie of my innate horribleness. Not because I accept for even one second that mistakes and missteps need to be prevented if possible, or corrected as well and quickly as can be.

Oh, no, no.

But unaddressed, unloved, unaccepted badness will foist its poisons on the world, and that will not do, not ever, for any reason, not when there is within and around me the power to change. That is not who I want to be, who I am, or what the world needs now.


And underneath there, underneath the lie of that horrible, no-good, really awful awfulness, you know what lurked?

An entire universe of rainbows, unicorns, fairies, butterflies, daisies, kittens and puppies, along with more helpful nymphs and kindly sprites than I could count. There they were, just waiting for release, there in the safe zone of unconditional self-acceptance. Once I accepted my badness, out from the shadows they danced.

So here’s the deal: Some people like me. Some people don’t like me. Most are kindly indifferent beyond a superficial interaction.

You know who likes me best now? Sure you do…

Bad Gay, meet Fun, Loving, Kind, Gentle, Earthy, Silly, Potent Gay.

Holy moly! Just telling you about this, I need a nap. Self-discovery and personal growth is hard work. And it’s never done. But like splitting a stack of firewood, schlepping water to the campsite, or digging a new outhouse hole in 80 degree heat, it’s so worth it.

Any questions?

This blog post offered with special thoughts, prayers and energies for the healing of those whose unattended, untreated, unaddressed badness is right now leaking into our worlds. 


Your Well-Fed Ghost

This is the draft intro to my next book, The Well-Fed Ghost: TK Ways to Nourish Your Hungry, Hungry Heart. I really like it. So I decided to share it. Love to know what it means to you, how it strikes you, what your experience is in satisfying your soul needs.

The yearning to connect, to belong, to be fulfilled, to feel substantial, we all have it. It’s

We pause. We observe. We absorb. We gently let ourselves be. Breathing in, breathing out.

We pause. We observe. We absorb. We gently let ourselves be. Breathing in, breathing out.

universal. It’s inborn. It’s the human condition.

All the same, that deep ache can be mystifying. Painful. Confusing. Baffling. Even

infuriating. But while such a powerful need can be difficult to accept and manage, it is also

a gift. It is an invitation to open a passage through which life’s infinite, eternal goodness and power can flow. The craving to be filled up is the portal through which the healing wind, the soothing water, the sustaining light can enter and bring us back to the sanity, safety, health and wholeness that is our birthright.

Mystifying but true: It can be hard to embrace this yearning, answer its call and accept its gift.

What we might think of as real life gets in the way. We fall into entertainment, distraction and comfort-seeking. That too is human nature, often exacerbated by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, particularly in our earliest years but also throughout the rest of life. Stuff happens. Dishes need to be washed, dogs walked, lunches packed, income earned. Childhood patterns bleed through to the present day and we react emotionally, creating or exacerbating all kinds of messes. People we love disappoint, betray or leave.  And then there’s the larger world with all its currents of sorrow.

There is pain in life. Truly, I don’t know why. But fighting this unbeatable truth is not helpful. Battling reality merely squanders our limited energies. We can let our heartbreak obstruct the peace that surpasses understanding, or we can use it to open our hearts, souls and minds. The choice is a difficult one. But still, it is ours.

It’s natural to want to turn away, run, clench ourselves up tight and resist feeling the pain and seeing the truth that life on earth is always finite, often painful and sometimes brutal.

But by running away from the pain, we abandon ourselves. And we miss the miracles that not only mitigate suffering, but also, if we will only open our eyes, overpower it.

It’s quite natural to recoil from pain. That’s part of our innate survival system. If it hurts when you do that, don’t do that. It’s natural to want to run away. Trouble happens when we make an identity out of comforts, earthly acquisitions and achievements. The job, the house, our own status and the status of family and friends, these things become idols. We let them define us.

It’s also quite natural to take for granted the easy parts, the simpler times. To skate along on the surface of things, taking advantage of opportunities, doing what needs to be done. There’s a risk, though, of never feeling into the larger, invisible, ineffable something that creates, energizes and unites us.

But when we let things of the world control and define us, we are suckling at an empty teat. There is no mother’s milk in things of the world. Play with them, says Eckardt Tolle, spiritual teacher and author of the Power of Now,  but don’t make an identity out of them. They are not us.

My income and assets and job title and family status are not me. They are tools of my earthly life, yes, and outcomes of my worldly actions. They are part of how my body, my current soul-container, survives and thrives. But I let them define me at the risk of emptiness, frustration, depression, loneliness and an ever-escalating anxiety that whatever I’m doing is not filling me up, not satisfying me, not nourishing me.

The call is always there. Always. It’s innate, inborn. Developmental psychologists tell us this querying emerges in children around four or five no matter how they are raised and taught as a need to understand where they came from and why they are here.

We avoid the call at our own risk. For many of us, our evasions turn into, at the very list, bad habits. At worst, they become killing, insanity-breeding addictions. We are driven to seek comfort and escape in drugs, food, alcohol, gambling, shopping, sex, TV watching, email checking, web surfing, work, busy-ness, controlling people and situations. We look to these things to rescue us from our pain, our past, our frustrations and disappointments.

And for awhile we may find it. Then our comfort and escape sources and substances seek us, stalk us, track us down and demand to be serviced. What was first an attempt to deal with life’s pain becomes a source of pain in and of itself. We are perpetually shut down emotionally, physically and spiritually. The addiction takes us over until finally it shuts us down for good. We either live in ever increasing insanity, or as our body gives out, in misery until we die before our time.

That’s no way to live. Instead of running to hide where the hurts may be temporarily eased but are ultimately inflamed, you need to feed your soul.

I mean, really feed it. Put every single thing in your life, bar nothing, into honoring the call to something greater than yourself. Accessing that deep well, the God that, as Elizabeth Gilbert says in the book Eat, Pray, Love, “lives in you as you.”

It’s a job, for sure. When I first began to learn about soul nurture, I was 38 years old, pregnant with my third son and completely clueless that to mother my children I had to mother myself  abundantly, unreservedly, and first.

Self-care? When my mentor first explained this to me, there in her sunny solarium, all I heard was gibberish. Her words made as much sense as if she’d been speaking a language I didn’t speak. As if her lips were moving but no sense was coming out.

But I was desperate. Running on empty was no longer working. I wasn’t the kind, strong person I wanted and needed to be. I was parched, lonely, afraid and had started to act in ways I and my family did not like and would not and should not tolerate.

Slowly I learned. It really is true that you need to fill yourself up before you can put yourself out there. The more I gave myself a break, softened my heart, prioritized differently, identified needs and asked to have them filled, the more strength and power I felt. You can’t draw on an empty bank account, drive on a dry gas tank, or do a day’s work with an hollow belly.

This was a new kind of strength, not born of bluff, bluster, anger and aggression, but of kind, powerful, gentle strength and love. As if some great wisdom could now flow through me, taking care of me, taking care of my responsibilities, and, most important of all, showing the love for my family that I felt but was unable to fully express.

It was not easy. It is not easy. I still have to remember, and re-remember, to attend my own needs with as much grace and generosity as I would a needful loved one. Some of us were taught to loathe self-centeredness. And for sure, there is a kind of bratty me-me-me attitude that cannot see the rest of the world and wouldn’t care if it could. That’s a kind of selfishness that’s full of greed and blindness to compassion.

That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about softening and receiving compassion for yourself, that you might live the life your creator wants for you, and be a presence to those you love and serve.

Self-nurture is where love as an adult begins. It’s important to receive all the abundance and miracles that are around us, from our family and friends, our beautiful environment, from nature and artists and just breathing in and breathing out.

But it starts with how you treat you.

No one is like you. No one can do or say what you can say. What matters most is not what you have or do. What matters most is who you love and how.


The Well-Fed Ghost is the sequel to  The Hungry Ghost: How I Ditched 100 Pounds and Came Fully Alive. Find more inspirational suggestions in other blogs at gayedelman.com. You can also sign up to receive the blog as an email newsletter.

25 Ways to Relax in Under a Minute

Taking care of yourself equals receiving the care and love of your higher power. Self care is imageGod’s love, pure and simple. Your creator does not need or want you to feel all beat up, bent out of shape and burnt out. Your creator wants you to feel rich, lovable, fulfilled and loved. This is where your strength and comfort come from.

The hardest times to do self-care are when you’re beset by life’s unavoidable obligations, trials and tribulations. Try one of these when you’re so overwhelmed you feel you can’t possibly take more than a minute.

  1. Brush your hair
  2. Pull up your socks and tie your shoes
  3. Wash your hands sloooowly after using the loo; revel in the hot soapy water
  4. Splash cool water on your face; blot ever so gently
  5. Take a long, slow drink of water. Keep a water bottle nearby for this
  6. Look around the room and pick out everything that’s your favorite color
  7. Raise your shoulders up to your ears. Hold to the count of 30, then drop them. Repeat
  8. Send someone a little “thinking of you” text or email
  9. Lightly run your hairbrush over the tender inside of each arm and give yourself a chill

10. Read a page in a meditation book you keep near your work station just for that purpose

11. Call your BFF and ask permission to work just a little bit not-so-hard. I promise she’ll give it to you.

12. Pray this three times to yourself: “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.”

13. See how many things you can write in a minute that you’re grateful for

14. Stare out the window. Set a timer. Find one at http://www.online-stopwatch.com/countdown-timer/  I dare you!

15. Make a list of what you’ll do with your first million.

16. Pray the Serenity Prayer a few times: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Or another favorite prayer or inspirational verse. You might like to memorize one or two at a more relaxed time for this purpose. I often use the 23rd Psalm. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+23&version=KJV

17. Stop. Breathe. Wait. Tell yourself, “There is nothing in front of me that’s life or death.” (Unless, of course there is. In which case, put this blog down and  go to it!)

18. Consider the importance to life of marshmallow peeps https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAUUL-Ypdu8

19. Repeat to yourself: I am enough, I have enough, I do enough.

20. Reach your arms around yourself and give yourself a big hug!

21. Take off your shoes and assuage your arches

22. Think of a friend who’s struggling and send her some good vibrations

23. Think of someone who’s on your last nerve, like your boss or your teenage son, and pray, “Bless him. Bless me.” Repeat.

24. Stand up. Reach up. Streeetch as tall as you can. Lean to left. Lean to the right. Streeeetch!!!!

25. Forward this list to someone who might need it! Pat yourself on the back for doing a good deed. Feel better!!!!!

Find more self-care, self-loving guidance in my book The Hungry Ghost: How I Ditched 100 Pounds and Came Fully Alive. Find more inspirational suggestions in other blogs at gayedelman.com. You can also sign up to receive the blog as an email newsletter.

The Belly Button Principle

Life’s a lot of work, right? This is where the Belly Button Principle comes in, because life is a toggle between inner labor and outer efforts. Innie and Outie, for short.

I need to build my inner resources with solitude and self-care. Time for contemplation and stillness. Prayer and meditation. Listening to beautiful music. Time in nature. Lovely spiritual reading like my current favorite, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John  O’Donohue.  Long walks. Qigong. Reiki. Sometimes, a deep, mindful talk with an anam cara (soul friend).

That’s when, where and how I connect to The Great Mystery. That’s the Innie.DSC00139

But I don’t live only in the inner world. No one can. Even religious contemplatives come out of contemplation to do life-sustaining chores.

I also need to move through daily life. That’s the Outie. Doing my professional work sharing messages of healing and hope and helping others do the same. Filling up the car’s gas tank. Preparing beautiful meals for myself and my beloved family. Leading peer-support meetings and fulfilling responsibilities to my religious fellowship. Showing up when people need me.

For me to thrive, these two areas, the Innie and the Outie, have to be in balance. Too much Innie, and I miss the chance to receive inspiration and love from other people and the opportunity to be of service. Too much Outie, and I lose my way, get crabby and mess up, sometimes letting myself, and others, down.

So, on an ideal day,  I make sure that I’ve got the Innie work in place before I embark on the Outie work. I also take the Outie stuff into Innie Land. They feed and support each other. When they are in balance, I’m in balance. And my world is a better place! That’s the Belly Button Principle.

Now, how about you? How do you keep your Innie and your Outie in balance?

To comment, read more Joyblogs, or sign up to receive the Joyblog by email, go to http://www.gayedelman.com. And yes, please do share! XOX!!!

Have you seen my new book, The Hungry Ghost: How I Ditched 100 Pounds and Came Fully Alive? Says a recent reader: “I was expecting another diet book. Instead I received a wealth of life inspiration!” 


My Amazing New Teacher

She’s bold.. She’s shy. She’s quirky. And she’s been hiding in plain sight.

For the last several years I’ve been a bit at sea in my spiritual journey.

Yes, I was blessed with peer support groups where people use kumbaya language generously and uncynically. Yes, I was blessed with friends who will share their soul journey and hear about mine with respect and kindness.

And it was good.

But still I craved that certain someone. A teacher, a pal, a coach, a counselor, a guru a little (or a lot) farther along the in the journey, to help me on my way.

I’ve noticed in my reading over the years in different faith traditions that there are a lot of common themes. One of them is, do not go this journey alone. My own intuition informs and supports that wisdom. You hear about so many people who go off the rails listening to some call that turns out not to have been in anyone’s best interest. This, I think, is how cults get formed. In the extreme, it can define psychosis.

My friend Karen used to tell the story of how when she was first trying to access the higher power she wanted for a better, healthier life, she meditated for hours every day. And one day in during the mediation, she saw the entire next day. A sort of movie of everything. When the next day actually unfolded exactly as she had seen in her meditation, it freaked her out. She joined Unity and there met a kindly couple who became her spiritual mentors.

For about a decade, I had a spiritual director, someone whose role it was to talk to about what I was thinking, feeling and doing to feed and fuel my soul, achieve richer fuller health, and be of some use on the planet. Our relationship was nurturing and helpful, but ran its course.

But I’m still on the path. What to do? I asked and asked the universe to send me my next teacher.

And a few days ago, during my morning meditation, she finally arrived: She is me! I was so busy consuming self-help books and courses and ideas that I hadn’t allowed myself any time to assimilate them.

For years, I’ve heard that we each have everything inside that we need. The answers are there and all.  I sort of knew  what people were talking about, but I just couldn’t settle down and listen.

Time to do that, my new teacher said!

Let’s be clear about one thing, though. The me we are talking about here is not my ego or my willfulness—what some might call the lower self.

No. We’re talking about the higher self. The part of me that’s totally plugged into the greater whole. What some might call God. What Elizabeth Gilbert calls the God that lives in me, as me.

That’s the me who’s my new teacher.

Who am I to say "no" to royalty???

Who am I to say “no” to royalty???

So this teacher? She’s given me my first assignment: Slow down and listen. Just listen. Don’t run away from anything. Don’t push toward anything. Just listen. Amazing! Thanks, Teach!



Joyblog: What Makes You Say Yes?

Trick question! In an ideal world, nothing but a gun to my head (God forbid! So far, this has

never happened, Amen.) can make me say yes.

In this ideal world, my yeses are all choices thoughtfully  arrived at and mindfully delivered.spikey one

But this, you may have noticed, is the real world.

And in this real world, I say yes to a lot of things. Yes to watching TV when I really need to get to bed. Yes to the phone when it rings when I really, really don’t want to talk to anyone right now. Yes to a person or organization’s request or demand that may or may not be best for all concerned. But do I stop and think before yesing?

I do not.

And I would like to. Because too many mindless yesses mean fewer true yesses. Yes to a helping someone who doesn’t truly require my help or has other resources, that robs another area where I might serve more fully. Yes when I really want to say no means snapping resentfully at someone and then, sigh, having to make amends. Again. Yes when I’m tired and need to go to bed means I wake up blue and slow.

Are we sensing a theme here?

I’ve decided I need more yesses to myself, fewer to others, and those more carefully processed. This self I’m thinking of, it’s not the small self, the one that wants greasy grilled cheese when crispy baked tofu is on the menu or wants to lie down and be a doormat just so someone will smile.

Nope. This yes is to my higher self, the one who’s connected to and part of the eternal power, the great source, the infinite energy, the father/mother creator.

I know people who says yes because they don’t know how to say no. I am that person still, more often than I’d like. I lose myself sometimes to the wrong yesses. I’m not unusual. This is addict behavior and I’m a recovering food addict.

When we say yes to people because we  feel beholden, obliged, like no one will like us if we don’t accede to someone’s demands, we move away from our higher self. When we say yes to substances and behaviors not in our best interest, we pollute our bodies and minds, and lose effectiveness, sometimes totally.

From there comes extreme loneliness, not to mention inability to function at peak powers in real life. Worst case, early death of mind, spirit and body.

Saying yes when you need to say no is dangerous. So how about we all just slow down a little, think longer and feel more what our higher self says?

Prayer and meditation help here.

Saying yes it a higher, deeper, greater power, well, that’s a yes that cannot hurt and can only help. When we do this, we are fueled and operating from clarity, safety and strength. That’s something we can say yes to, can’t we? Yes? Sure! Yes!

More guidelines for when, where and how to say yes–and no–in my book The Hungry Ghost: How I Ditched 100 Pounds and Came Fully Alive. 

You’re Not the Boss of Me!

I love to learn, but I hate being told what to do. I don’t like being stuck, but I am violetsDSC00122determined to do it my way. I love people who are smart and wise, who love me and have a lot to offer, but I sometimes brush aside their suggestions without considering them fairly.

Are we sensing a theme here?

That I’m strong-willed is a given. Stubborn? You bet! I’m so stubborn, I regard the word a compliment! Because I know that the other side of stubbornness is tenacity. I’ve managed to accomplish a fair amount inside myself, in my relationships and in the world by sticking to my ideals and principles come hell or high water and mashing forward.

I’m not saying I’m a total blockhead. I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way; there’s a limit to how many times you can butt your head before you go a different way!) a thing or two about flexibility, ambiguity, the limitations of right vs. wrong thinking, and how talking to a stubborn person can feel to someone else. I have learned to soften my gaze, push less, breathe more, listen better, have a tiny bit more patience.

But too often there is a two-year-old inside me jumping up and down yelling, “You’re not the boss of me!”

And I’m starting to really, really feel, right down to my bones, how this is not always helpful. Right now, as I build my practice as author, editor and coach, I am blessed with a many kind, gifted mentors, teachers and guides. And there is still something in me that really wants to push back when they offer suggestions. I’m not talking about outlandish ideas. These folks may give me feedback that doesn’t fit; that’s going to happen. Take it or leave it is real. But they’re offering  thoughts that are always intended for my benefit, often quite excellent, sometimes brilliant.

I do listen. I even follow through a lot.

But I sure wish this toddler would settle down. And here’s what I’m seeing: She does settle down when I fully respect that this is her life, honor that she doesn’t have to do it alone and get really serious about the fact that outside help isn’t enough.

Older, wiser Gay has to take Toddler Gay to that private, personal well for a long, cool drink, then a great big hug. It’s not enough just to listen to outsiders. I have to show up every single day, with diligence (dare I say stubbornness) and listen to my own personal insider teacher, guide and mentor. When I am more open to me, I am more open to you.

When I do go to the well, Toddler Gay can relax, run and play. And Grown Up Gay can move into her day with dignity, power and grace.


There are more helpful  insights from my bumpy journey in my new book The Hungry Ghost: How I Ditched 100 Pounds and Came Fully Alive.  


Fun with Friends!

A couple of Sundays ago I had a ton of fun speaking to the friendly folks the Unitariangay at lectern 4-14-2 Universalist meetinghouse near me in Lincroft, New Jersey. The title of the talk was “Your Food, Your Spirit: Clearing Worldly Obstacles to Soul Growth,” based on my new book The Hungry Ghost: How I Ditched 100 Pounds and Came Fully Alive.

I’m so grateful to my friend Jo Grazide  (who took all these photos) for introducing me with such kindness and generosity.  And to all the folks who showed up, listened eagerly, laughed at all the right places and asked really good questions at the end.gay edelman talk at uucmc 4-14-8

What was really satisfying was seeing how well my experience recovering from food addiction translates into larger things like slowing down, listening to one another and our higher power, and generally being a kind, more caring person.

Because when it gets right down to it, whether I’m using food, drugs, alcohol, TV, gambling, etc., to avoid being present in my life, I’m not having my life. I’m not present to myself or the people I love and serve. As the sub title of The Hungry Ghost says, our goal is not just weight loss or cessation of hurtful distractions, but complete freedom! Now there’s a universal purpose for you!

gay edelman talk at uucmc 4-14-6

gay edelman talk at uucmc 4-14-7

Some Thoughts on Desire

Is desire bad? Some religious and spiritual teachings seem to say it’s how individuals and communities get themselves into trouble.

But even some religious leaders have said we need desire. Desire is part of who we are as humans. It is part of our motivation to do the good that we do, as well as the bad.

As a deeply, wildly, intensely passionate person, I think about this a lot. And the way I see it, things boil down this way:

Extreme, mindless desire can derail a life, a family, a community, a nation, a hemisphere, a world. Extreme, mindless, unmitigated desire creates a Bernie Madoff, a mortgage crisis, a Holocaust.

These are the low desires. The venal, me-first-everybody-out-of-my-way-I’m-coming-through desires. You see it not just in global issues but in the rude, careless, dismissive ways people treat one another on the road, in stores, at work, even at home.

Low desire can manifest, too, in self-destructive urges like addiction. The addict who cares more about her next binge or score or hit than anyone or anything, she’s succumbing to low desire.  Cravings, those gut-punching, mind-bending thoughts that you have to have it (whatever it is) right now or you’ll die are extreme, physical manifestations of this low desire.

But there is also high desire. It is characterized by the passion to help others, live with integrity, do the right thing, share privilege, use no more resources than you need, and work for the greater good. It is also, not only in my experience and observation, but in the science of developmental psychology, characterized by the born-in passion to connect with a source of power and guidance bigger, grander and more mysterious that a solo individual.

We all have both kinds of desires in us. We all have seeds of war and seeds of peace. Which will we water?

When we feel into and channel our higher desires, starting with the yearning to listen to and heed the inner guidance, lovely things happen. Following my higher yearning helped me to be a good enough mom, though I had a lot of early mis-training to overcoming. It has helped me write words of healing and hope over the years, including my recent book The Hungry Ghost, about how I healed from binge-eating and how others can too.

And it helps me now, as I ask the Universe to show me, just for today, what can I do to increase the peace? How can I help myself and then others transform irritation, pain and trauma for the greater good?

These, I hope you’ll agree, are desires to be fed and shared. When we pool our desires good things happen. Babies are born and nurtured. Crops are sowed, reaped and brought to market. Broken families reunite. Illness and injury heal. Friends discuss misunderstandings and clear the air. Enemies make eye contact, shake hands and lay down their arms.

High desires, well nurtured and mindfully directed, enable us to walk through this day, doing as little harm as humanly possible and, maybe, doing a little good.