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I was recently out with some friends, and I found myself sitting next to an exuberant, wonderful woman who was visiting from Florida. We got to talking about the things that matter very quickly. She told me that she was divorced, had adult children and was running her own business in Florida. She had been an avid ballroom dancer for the last two years and adored her teacher whom she danced with. On the surface she had a charmed life, and she seemed lively and confident.
I invited her to go Salsa dancing with me at the Lincoln Center in New York City on a Friday evening where couples usually dance to a live band. I was planning to go on my own and meet some friends there. She confessed to me that she couldn’t go dancing because it broke her heart to see all those couples happily dancing. It broke her heart that she didn’t have a dancing partner with whom she could also share her life.
I found that an astounding statement. I had never thought of avoiding dancing because I didn’t have a partner. I was brought up in an exuberant Greek way where you could pull anyone onto the dance floor and they would become your partner for the night. Not having a partner never stopped me from dancing.
On that night walking down 6th Avenue, my new friend and I ended up having a very beautiful conversation about why she didn’t have a partner and what she was looking for in one. She said to me, “I’ve been longing for the right partner for years now, since I’ve been divorced. Someone that I am compatible with and that I can have fun with. Someone I can enjoy my life with, and also dance with. I get very upset when I think that other people have that, and wonder, ‘why not me?’”
She asked me, “Is it not okay to want a man? Or a relationship?”
“Of course it’s okay,” I said. “But there is a difference between wanting and longing. Longing brings the tentacles of attachment and creates suffering that suffocates the enjoyment of our life. If you get clear in what you want and why then you can go about seeing how you can create it . ”
My suggestion to her was to give up the longing, and start thinking about how she could make it a reality instead. Personally, when I gave up the longing of finding an ideal partner, I began enjoying my life much more. The longing had only created unhappiness for me. She exclaimed, “I don’t want to give up my longing! It reminds me of how much I want that, and I don’t want to forget it.”
“That’s okay,” I replied, “provided that your longing doesn’t keep you from being present in the moment.” She stopped in the middle of 6th Avenue, held my hand and said, “I’m having a moment. I’m having an epiphany. Don’t say anything else. I never realized that my longing was preventing me from being present.”
We walked down 6th Avenue in that moment of epiphany, realizing how our longing creates suffering. My newfound friend said, “I now see how the longing perpetuates desire and not getting what you want , and it becomes a vicious circle . It stops me from being present and fully enjoying myself and my life. It stops me from seeing what might be possible.” This incident is what prompted me to start this blog.
Longing acts as a defense mechanism or a security blanket that stops us from trying, failing and being disappointed. It actually paralyzes us from creating opportunities. Longing has been placed on a pedestal by our society, our literature, our movies, and numerous songs. Someone is always longing for someone. Scarlett O’Hara longs for Rhett Butler, Carrie Bradshaw longs for Mr. Big, Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice longs for Mr. Darcy. We are accustomed to looking at people longing for their ideal, and waiting for their ideal to appear.
In my last blog I talked about the rock of Sisyphus, where he rolled it up the hill and down the hill it went again and again.
Longing is not just a rock. It’s an immovable boulder. We long for that relationship. We long for that career. We long for success. We long for the opportunities that we see other people getting. We long for a better body. We long for vacations in faraway lands. We long to write that book, to get that part. We long for a more exciting life. We long for love, we long for romance and we long for connections. We long for recognition, for a bigger bank account and the ultimate, we long for God… the list is endless.
So what can we do instead? Our spirit thrives in being present in the moment, because that’s all we have. It is our most powerful ally in assisting us in creating what we want. When we summon up the power that is instilled in being present and we don’t cloud it with fear, worry, constricting rules, and beliefs of how things are supposed to be, our spirit can converge with the material world and help us manifest because we have clarity of vision.
Here is my recipe of how to move from longing to actualization:
1) Focus on what it is you desire, and peel away the longing. Throw the longing in the Aegean Sea. Now that you have identified the object of your desire, start mapping out and writing in detail what it would look like to have it. Focus on the experience you are looking for. How does having what you want make you feel?
2) Activate that feeling in all your senses: feel it, touch it, hear it, see it, experience it in your entire body. Write down the sensations with the bottom line experience, and put the note by your bathroom mirror wall. Let’s say you want a partner you can dance with, as in the case of my friend. The experience is: “sharing my life with someone I care for who also cares for me, whom I can have fun with, dance with, and grow old with.” The bottom line experience is “Having a connection to someone I love who loves me back.” Conjure up that feeling in your imagination as if it is happening right now. Practice mocking up that feeling over and over again, until your mind begins to believe it and you begin to radiate it.That goodness you treate inside will find its match in the outside .
3) Check to see if there are any negative beliefs, blocks or walls you have placed between you and what it is you want to create . Be aware of your worry. Recognize your fear of stepping into the unknown, into unexplored territory. Do your inner work to chisel away at those worries, fears and doubts. Work with yourself to build trust and strengthen the belief that you can have the fulfillment you want .
4) Ask yourself what is the next, immediate, microscopic step you can take to create what it is you want? If it is a life partner you want, you may think the next step is signing up to an internet dating site and starting to date. But the next step may be letting go of all the old hurts and disappointments, forgiving them and letting them go so that you can start with a clean slate. Act the part as if you already have what you want.
5) Ask for support from people you trust. Ask them to help with your vision and to check in with you to see how you are doing. Hold the picture of what you want vividly in your mind, and keep holding it until it comes to fruition. Be strategic, creative and spontaneous. Keep yourself open and available to possibility. Be wary of the patterns of defeat and discouragement that can creep in when things don’t happen fast enough. After all, it has taken you years and years of not getting what you want, so it may take you a bit longer to reach your goal.
As my mother used to say, “Don’t miss the moment.” That perfect moment of inspiration and connection often catches us by surprise. We don’t always know what the next moment may bring, but we do have a choice of whether to block the moment or allow it to happen.
I would love to hear from you about how you are letting go of your longings to start manifesting your dreams.
Is Your Longing Preventing You From Actualizing Your Dreams?September 5th, 2010
The Huffington Post