A Coaching Power Tool created by Halli Bourne
(Spiritual Coaching, UNITED STATES)
Discipline imposed from the outside eventually defeats when it is not matched by desire from within. Dawson Trotman
The American Heritage Dictionary (1976 ed., p. 357) defines desire to wish or long for something and more provocatively as sexual appetite. The term desire carries a stigma nowhere more intensely than in religious and spiritual contexts; desire is the culprit behind greed, overeating, over-sexing and over-achieving. Desire fuels avarice and brutality. Alternatively, in the realm of self-improvement and self-actualization, recognizing what one deeply desires creates the foundation for appreciable positive change. Desire alone can lead us into pointless wanting, in which we reach only for temporary satisfaction, yet desire applied to action for heartfelt reasons can transform wanting into having.
Discipline in many parts of the industrialized world is considered a dirty word. In the first two definitions of discipline in the American Heritage Dictionary (p. 375), the meaning is innocuous, specifying behavior that leads to moral and mental improvement, yet when we read further, definitions include words such as “obedience,” and “submission to rules and authority”; if one is already feeling held to countless societal edicts of self-sacrifice and tangible productivity, then mustering the energy for discipline can seem overtaxing or simply self-indulgent. Yet in order to create meaningful change, discipline is key and the definition we choose will inform our relationship with it.
Desire, additionally defined as passion, creates the vision for how we want our lives to be and can serve as the energetic template for creating the life we want. Discipline realizes the behavior for achieving the vision, metamorphosing a one-dimensional template into a three-dimensional reality. In the effort to create change, desire becomes an asset rather than a liability. Through intentionally keeping the desire alive within us, we can produce the motivation to apply the necessary discipline. On days when desire wanes and the benefits for following through are temporarily forgotten, a habit of discipline can fill in the gaps.
The root of the word discipline is disciple, and we are all disciples of something. The question is, are we disciples of our conditioning or our most central truth? Will we follow habits that unfailingly reproduce a disappointed existence, or will we employ new habits to manifest our hopes and dreams? With practice, we can come to see appropriate discipline as a faithful companion, leading us to expansive thinking and enhanced presence borne out of our most fundamental desire.
desire + discipline = successful, actualized change
The Allure of Wanting
Want is defined as the failure to have something desired, to simply lack something desired, or to desire something powerfully. Wanting can be the driving motivation for action. Wanting can also lull us into complacency or torment us when we have become convinced we cannot have what we want. Wanting can serve as a device of the ego or the voice of the soul. Author Marilynne Robinson speaks to what craving and longing can lend us:
To crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow. For when does a berry break upon the tongue as sweetly as when one longs to taste it, and when is the taste refracted into so many hues and savors of ripeness and earth, and when do our senses know any thing as utterly as when we lack it? For to wish for a hand on one’s hair is all but to feel it.
Robinson invites us to cherish and abide our longing when many of us might choose to ignore it. Turning our attention to the dreaming we are hardly aware of could lead us to a more enriching and satisfying way of being. Otherwise we can drift along sullenly telling ourselves this is all life has to offer.
Acknowledging what we want requires courage, for we are then faced with the risky possibility of having what we want and the energy required to actualize it. Perhaps we are invested only in the act of wanting, and have constructed a defining tale of unfulfilled and frustrated desire. Un-investigated desire can make us witless and manipulate us in errant directions, bringing confusion, sorrow and regret. However, asking questions of the nature of our longing is like ingesting a time-release capsule of truth and clarity around what we say we want. Through distinguishing the voices of the ego and the soul, we will come to understand the difference between desire for temporary symptom relief and the wanting that will grant our lives core meaning.
How then do we connect with the truth of our longing? Ask yourself these questions:
- What would you identify as the top three desires in your life?
- What do you see is in the way of you having them?
- Who would you be if you obtained these three desires and how would your life be different?
- What will the manifestation of these desires do for you?
- Are you willing and able to put forth the energy required to obtain what you want?
- What must you let go of to have what you want, i.e. a particular self-image (even if limiting), friends and acquaintances, a secure job, etc.?
Visualization for Investigation: Is this really what you want?
Visualization is a powerful tool for actualizing desire – a means for animating an otherwise inert vision. Release any attachment to what should or should not happen in your exploration. Employ an attitude of curiosity and openness while allowing your wisest self to rise to the surface. Invite the voice of your soul to speak to you in whatever way it shows itself, be it through images, song lyrics, flashes, words or any other manifestation. Engage your imagination for its own sake for it has its own rewards.
- Find a quiet and comfortable place where you can remain undisturbed for a time.
- Call to mind one of the desires you have chosen.
- Does this desire reside physically in your body and if so, where?
- Does this desire have a feeling and if so, what is the quality of this feeling?
- Identify the intensity of longing you have for this desire to be manifested. Is this something you desire mildly or does the intensity indicate genuine import for you? Is there a sense of passion behind this desire or do you feel a sense of nonchalance or indifference around having or not having this desire? Without attachment, observe the energy behind your desire and what this reveals to you.
- Imagine you have manifested this desire in your life. What does having this desire look like and how does this feel to you? How do you feel about yourself? How has your perspective on the world changed now that you have what you have desired?
Examine now what you discovered. Do you still feel as though this desire is something you truly want? Why or why not? Utilize this visualization exercise for the three top desires you identified, recognizing which one has the most power or the most feeling behind it. Identifying this desire will uncover the motivation to reach for what you desire, or reveal there is another, perhaps more suitable, direction for your life to go.
Distinguishing the Soul’s Voice From the Ego
Does our soul speak “surer” because it lives free from our ego’s noise? ~Erie Chapman
Our family, our teachers, spiritual leaders and our culture often tell us what we should want. Many of us pursue what has been defined for us, only to discover that what others have wanted for us is not what we want for ourselves. Deciding to pursue what we want can sometimes mean disappointing others and what they want for us.
Taking time out during our busy days has the effect of creating internal space. Each day take at least five to ten minutes to either breathe consciously or to meditate. Conscious breathing and meditation will not necessarily quiet the mind entirely, but does bring calm to help you shift your perspective. Initially this takes discipline, especially if you are accustomed to constant movement and external engagement. Yet your desire to distinguish your soul’s voice from the louder and more insistent voice of the ego can generate the power to create this habit. With practice, you can recall what you have wanted for yourself and what you have not yet discovered you want. The voice of the soul will grow louder. You can admit what you have always wanted and take action toward having it. With time, inviting desire in becomes less fearsome. The story of the ego’s torment can be transmuted into the souls yearning and subsequent fulfillment. We become more courageous in discerning risks and losses that may be necessary to have what we want.
Spiritual Coaching Application
With positive goals, attitude and desire, any obstacle can be overcome. ~Robin Babb
When we find our clients presenting confusion around what they should want and what they actually want, we can invite them to access their own intrinsic wisdom. By creating safety and trust with our clients, we can guide them toward brave questioning and discovery. An underlying reason for choosing not to take action for something we say we want is the sacrifice that might be required. We can help our clients reframe these sacrifices in order to gain increased self-knowledge, understanding, and eventual action toward what they want. These are some questions you might ask your client in such a situation:
- What do you feel you would have to give up to have what you want?
- Would the people in your life support you having this?
- What are the obstacles in the way of what you want?
- What is the fundamental belief that tells you that you can’t or shouldn’t have what you want?
Sometimes the mere expression of what we believe to be in our way is enough to break through perceived barriers. Clients have the potential of waking up to their own inconsistency, perhaps even dishonesty, around their inability to realize their desires.
As spiritual coaches, we support our clients’ learning for how to listen to their own wisdom and intuition so they can live with greater authenticity and integrity. By helping our clients identify their deepest desires and take the actions required to manifest them, we facilitate a brighter light growing in an often shadowy world. People living from joy engenders an entirely different reality than those living strictly from duty. Desire and discipline, when applied toward your clients’ soul desires, can illuminate their unique corner of the world.
- What tools can you think of to help your clients discover their deeper desires?
- How will you coach your clients around what they must let go of or sacrifice in order to have what they want?
- How will you support your clients in keeping their desire alive while applying the necessary discipline to achieve it?