Sometimes the lowest point in my day is when I’m trying to convince my daughter to make her first attempt at a new and challenging song. While a little difficulty keeps things interesting sometimes things feel impossibly hard.
While we might escalate into a dramatic showdown on the piano bench, this is still a small type of challenge. Figuring out how to live a rewarding life of integrity and purpose can pull you through all sorts of challenges. There’s the challenge of healing trauma or facing life threatening illness. There’s the challenge of the systemic injustices and climate crisis that are also costing lives.
We need our strength. Maybe more strength than we think we have. We need a connection to our creative life force.
Audre Lorde wrote a powerful essay on how the pleasure we find in satisfying work, in examining an idea, in sex, in community – what she calls our erotic power – is the source of our empowerment. Once tasted, we can no longer be satisfied with suffering. Adrienne maree brown refers to this as pleasure activism. She explores pleasure is the source of our power and asks what “Is it possible for justice and pleasure to feel the same way in our collective body?”
Two main ideas I take away from these women is pleasure and desire.
The world benefits from you feeling good.
Taking time for self-care is absolutely worth it. You radiate aliveness to the world around you. Showing up depleted, tired or grumpy doesn’t bring the same possibility with it.
When my daughter is just too tired piano practice doesn’t work out. We have to do it in the morning and we have a routine of rough-housing before hand so her body feels calm and ready to work. Similarly, I feel so much more ease and productivity if I start my day with qigong practice.
Many of us get very little teaching on how to nurture our deepest aliveness. I have certainly tilted to seriousness and martyrdom in my life. Falling in love with the State Fair was a revelation in my twenties. Yet sometimes the pleasures that marketers sell us just feel empty to me. The pleasure, the profoundly good and alive feeling I’m talking about, is created not consumed. It moves us beyond self-centeredness.
Creative and spiritual practice (they aren’t really two separate things) are the sweet spot for nurturing our life force. This is where you will find your strength to face impossible challenges.
Focus on your Desire.
Your dreams and hopes for your life and for the future are what make you come alive. The outraged “No!” you may feel in response to an injustice can help you identify what vision and values are longing for expression. But the “No!” in itself just makes everything stop dead. When you say “Yes!” to what you love – celebrating and standing for your loves – you are open to a world of possibilities.
This principle is very clear when healing the body. Hating, fearing, and generally obsessing about an illness or wound is not nearly as pleasurable as giving the body all the love, tenderness and care it needs. Fuming about the idiots of the world is just plain less pleasurable as building relationships of reconciliation and cooperation.
I encourage you to monitor yourself. In whatever way you are feeling challenged, are you spending more time in frustration, tirade and resistance or in creating the solution you want? You could even make saying “Yes!” a spiritual practice in itself: at the end of each day write or say to yourself what you desire for your life and for all of life.
Unleashing your strength is a beautiful thing.
Watching my students and clients discover their super powers (as one person called it) is the greatest joy in my work.
When my daughter does eventually learn the latest challenging song she gets a tangible thrill in discovering a new level of mastery. It’s a wonderful thing to discover we are capable of more than we realize.
Here’s to your unleashed super powers.
Need help feeling good?