Effective Desire: How to Have What You Want
Stuck in negative thinking? Maybe a lot of it comes down to, “I really don’t know what I want.” How to kick start positive thinking.
A colleague asked me what the Four Words practice is about.
“Having what you want in life,” I answered.
“What I want is impossible.” he laughed.
Think so? Amy Palmiero-Winters will blow away that logic. Her power is an affirmation of blood, breath, and faith that cultivates the force of life.
You may have seen her story on the internet or in sports writer George Vecsey’s piece for the New York Times (links below). This week, 37 year old, single mother of two, Amy Palmiero-Winters became the first amputee runner to qualify for the US National Track and field team. She’ll be competing in the World Championships in France next month.
Believe in yourself: It’s nobody else’s business
Even if you put to one side all the controversy and barriers to entry that Palmiero-Winters has to contend with every day from every direction (grocery store to the USATF Committee to, you know, the whole world), you can’t ignore the practical determination to focus on what she wants, not on what other people say she can do or should accept.
The Times featured a photo of Palmiero-Winters running with one of her prosthetics, a sleek, high tech fin. Mid article Vecsey, quotes her
“It looks cool, but it’s definitely not as good as the real thing,” she said, slightly nostalgic for a moment. She has to stop every few miles to take off the leg and pour out the accumulated sweat. Also, the device cuts into her.
This woman has conquered her fear. Her work is meaningful to her, and because she has embraced that meaning, it shines pure life giving inspiration, even to people she’ll never meet.
Should is the ego’s favorite word
One of the things a consistent practice of yoga reveals is our neurotic, wonky, idiosyncratic, and circuitous “logic.” In a practice of clarity we come to know the power we invest in our deep seated fears and fantasies, especially about what we should and shouldn’t want to be in this world, or do with our lives
“It wasn’t meant to be” often means I didn’t believe in myself, or I don’t really see how it’s up to me, or I didn’t want to do what I would have to do to make what I said I wanted actually happen.
Believe in yourself: It’s nobody else’s job
And then again, a lot of it comes down to, I don’t really know what I really want.
Four Words, like other yoga practices, is a technique for knowing. It’s based in the life you’re living.
The way Amy Palmiero-Winters responded to the accident that destroyed her leg changed her life. She was liberated from being a superior runner to be being an elite, world class runner.
It’s sometimes humorously obvious we reassign what we do and do not accomplish in life as part of some higher power’s plan without ever engaging the rigor of self-observation.
What do we really want? What are we willing to examine about our stories, and the energy we put into those stories, to have it?
Whenever I ask people what they want I hear answers that surface guilt, fear, paranoia, confusion, and downright squirrelly thinking. Almost everyone says that having what you want is selfish. And then I ask what selfish means.
We get hung up thinking sharing is about being good
It’s strange and wondrous and unsettling to grok that an engaged everyday life, being fully who we are, is the sharing that gives our best and the most to the most people without the trap of ego sucking all the life out of the gift. Being fully who we are is living in grace.
Choosing not to be responsible to know and have what you want begs the question about selfish: how can you share it if you don’t have it? If you’re not allowed to want it in the first place?
Susan is teaching a Four Words workshop at Kripalu on Memorial Day Weekend.
We may publish any content, comments or ideas sent to us.
Name may be withheld by request.
© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.