Wisdom In Desire
Questions for Finding Wisdom In Desire
Questions contributed by Dr. LaMothe on October 13, 2009.
QuestionsForLiving: What are the primary questions you ask yourself when you want to find the wisdom in desire?
1. Am I breathing?
Whenever I remember to do so, I ask myself this question. It beats a direct path to my presence in the moment. Wherever I am, whatever I am doing, I am breathing. Constricted or free, shallow or deep, rapid or slow, my breathing is registering what is happening and what I am feeling. Simply asking the question shifts my experience.
2. Where do I hurt?
Inevitably, in any given moment of my life, something hurts. There is some conflict or dis-ease. I am frustrated, irritated, pinched, blocked, or annoyed. I hunger and yearn. I want something, and that want is struggling to make itself known. The path of my breathing draws my attention right to the knot.
3. What movements am I making that are making me?
For every sensation of hurt I feel, there is some movement I am making that is causing me to perceive this sensation as hurtâ€”some desire. Desire is an impulse to move towards something we believe will grant us the pleasure we seek. Asking about the movements I am making helps me find this desire in the heart of my dis-ease. Within my frustration at a sprained ankle, I find a desire to move. In the depression that drives me to dazzle or numb my senses, I find a desire for a sense of vitality, direction and belonging. Breathing in and through the knots of dis-ease, I am able to affirm the desire as who I am-as my life energy-and appreciate it as a potential for pleasure waiting to unfold.
4. Where is the play in the moment?
Play is room to maneuver, as in the play of a doorknob. Play is imagining possibilities we have not before. Play is about exploring what might be. Breathing into my bodily self, feeling what I am feeling, and opening to consider the play in the moment, helps loosen the knots of my pain or frustration, opening me to sense possibilities for moving in ways that will not recreate the dis-ease I feel.
5. Where is the wisdom in my desire?
The wisdom in desire is an impulse to move in the moment, for the moment, in a way that aligns pleasure, health, and well-being. For at the root of every desire, once we begin to explore it, is a yearning for a life-enabling experience of some kind. We want more-more nourishment, affirmation, and pleasure. More joy. More love. More life.
6. What is it I really want?
Bending to my breathing, feeling what I am feeling, finding play in the moment, my experience of my own desire shifts. The knots of my desire release, and appear to me as impulses to move in ways that yield the kind of life-enabling experiences I seek. From this place, I can make decisions about how to honor my desire that express the care for my bodily self I am practicing. I find myself wanting to act in ways that align my pleasure, health, and well being. I learn to love.
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Kimerer LaMothe, Ph.D., is a philosopher, dancer, and scholar of religion, who lives with her partner and their five children on a farm in upstate New York. A former professor at Harvard and Brown Universities, recipient of fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and the Center for the Study of World Religions, and award-winning author of three books, Dr. LaMothe is currently director of Vital Arts, a center dedicated to creating art and ideas that remain faithful to the earth. Trained in modern dance, Haitian dance, ballet, and yoga, LaMothe has choreographed and danced two solo concerts, as well as performing in a range of concert, conference, and liturgical settings. Her third book, What a Body Knows: Finding Wisdom in Desire, uses personal anecdotes and cultural analyses to introduce her original philosophy of bodily becoming. Working with our desires for food, sex, and spirit, she describes a way of thinking and being that privileges bodily movement as the source and telos of human life.