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Opening to Desire

Opening to Desire


It is a provocative word. What sensations, thoughts and feelings arise as you sit with it?

Does energy come, or uncertainty? Fear, excitement or numbness?

All of us have conditioned ideas and responses around desire – imbued from culture, religion, family and even present day spiritual practice. In a recent class I asked students to name what came to mind when I said the word. 







… were some of their replies. 

There were a few others too: enlivening, inspiring, tender, hopeful

What words come to mind for you?

Bringing awareness to our current response to desire is the beginning of our practice with it. We all have a relationship to desire, whether conscious or not. Most of us have acquired compensatory means to handle its potency – suspicion, suppression, abstinence, addiction. We push, pull, obscure and deny desire. Yet with mindfulness new possibilities arise. 

When we turn towards the experience of desire with curious attention, we can learn to touch and know it directly – just as we can with any other thing in our lives. Underneath our fears and hopes, we can discover the true nature of it. 

I invite you to sit with desire. To welcome it in, and become intimate with it. Listen to its whisper. But don’t stop there… listen again. Consider the possibility that at its core, your desire has its own innate intelligence (like all parts of you). What might it be calling for? Because desire is ultimately a call. A call into life, into connection, into creation. Allow yourself to feel the call, to experience the sensation of raw energy that runs through it. That is eros. Can you open to it? 

Fear of Desire – Justine Dawson

Uses of the Erotic as Power – Audre Lorde

The Power of Sexual Awakening – Justine Dawson in conversation with Dr Melissa Ming Foynes

Tips for practice:

Bring consciousness to the experience of desire. When desire arises in your meditation practice, see if you can bring awareness to it before acting. When you feel the impulse to move, swallow or itch a scratch, become really curious about the sensation of desire. Notice how it feels in your body. See how long you can stay with the sensation of it before acting. When a deeper desire arises – a word, image, intuition – stay with it in the same way. Open to the feeling of longing. Become intimate with desire.

Include your genitals in your meditation practice. When doing a body scan, or practicing mindfulness of the body in general, it’s common to skip over the genitals. In your next meditation, include awareness of the sensation in them. Is there heat, coolness, tingling, wetness, pulsing, vibration? What happens when you open to this sensation? What thoughts or feelings arise? Can you stay open and curious with it all?

Try a written inquiry into desire, using the repeating question “What do I desire?”. Allow your responses to flow without rationalizing, judging or restricting. Your mind might produce thoughts of that nature, that’s ok – just keep going. Notice how you feel in your body as desire moves. What new insights into desire arise as you allow its free flow?