You are longing. For what?
What our deep desires say about us and It's Okay To Feel Things Deeply book giveaway.
Last Saturday I had a vision. Like the kind that I don’t believe is possible. The supernatural kind. I should take a step back, and define what I am talking about. Growing up, in a secular household, visions were a thing of God. They happened on late-night TV with evangelical priests. Or TV shows like True Blood. People who were unable to do something, suddenly or within a reasonable amount of time, would do the thing. Like walk. Or see with their own eyes.
BAD AT KEEPING SECRETS is a reader-supported publication. If you enjoyed this or felt a little less alone, subscribe.
This is typically attributed to some sort of divine intervention. Since I grew up in a Judeo/Christian culture, the divine looked like an old white man coming down and making his will known. Why and when they would do this is always kinda unknown. I guess there are vision seekers, suggesting a recipe.
What are your conceptions about what a vision is? I think also a lot of people associate it with mysticism. Which I can see. Think like fortune tellers. Or witches under full moons. I wanted to question this because I feel like a knowledge base of what you think is going to happen shapes what actually happens. I thought I would never have a “vision” of this sort because I am skeptical of things that cannot be clearly explained by science. Side note: Science is an imperfect understanding of the world. It is just how I was raised and the value system to ground ourselves was based on it. I am not sure that I think humans can know the total truth, but I do think we need a collective “real” to exist. And science provides that for me. As well as art.
When I googled the term “vision,” this is not what came up. What came up was vision boards, lots of vision boards. I have never done a vision board. Maybe I should. But I think the general gist, you probably know this, vision boards help you know what you want, then through manifestation (a word meaning a mixture of strategy, action, luck, and timing) you have agency over your reality.
There is something interesting to me about interchanging the statements “I am longing for” and “I am manifesting.” One for me seems to be more of a passive stance and the other one is active. I have been on this negative kick (my whole life), with my main coping skill to expect the worst, so whatever happens, has to be better than the worst thing imaginable. I don’t allow myself to step into the area of envisioning a future that is prosperous. If these thoughts pop up and they do from time to time, I push them back. I don’t want to expect anything. That has gotten me into trouble in the past.
Longing and manifesting, like most things, are not mutually exclusive. I just long for things, but I never let myself envision them actually happening. Conceivably, you could long for something and relish the imagined time united with whatever you hope for. I challenge you, to try this. I am trying this. Just sitting without a doubt in a hopeful space. It’s hard.
For me, this vision was the first of its kind. Or at least what I can remember at this moment. On a whim, I went to a yoga class in Berkeley not knowing what to expect. I was told that there was a cold plunge and saunas. The yoga was secondary. Berkeley is this weird place full of contradictions. It is so liberal that it is conservative with its policing of its liberal ideologies. For example, most people in Berkeley would support housing initiatives for our unhoused population, with the caveat that it is not within 200 feet of their home or workplace, or favorite bakery. If you stated any opposition, it would be met with a scornful eye and perhaps some shaming statement on how you didn’t care about other people, only yourself. As much as I love Berkeley and the Bay in general, I think there is a weird hypocrisy in its toting openness to some things and defiant opposition to others.
If you are not from Berkeley but have read anything by Michael Pollen, perhaps his most recent book, “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence” can offer some insights on the open/closed nature of the mindset here. It is not surprising that a journalistic endeavor offering an argument on the value of using psychedelics to help with mental health came from a Bay Area writer if you ask me. But there is some hypocrisy in writing in essence in support of supervised drug use in a place where our drug use and mental health issues are high with a very limited support system. I am all for it. All of it. No, I have not tried using psychedelics. After my mental breakdown in 2016, I am super scared of any mind-altering substances. I keep to the relative stability that Zoloft offers. But maybe someday…
Berkeley being what it is, I showed up for 2-hour Kundalini Yoga session with Liya Garber. I was told that I was worthy of whatever it is that I am seeking. In my head, as we started, I was doubtful. I shifted uncomfortably on the concrete floor with the idea that I was something more than what I thought I was. I thought to myself I know I am worthy. I don’t need to be told (generally speaking, whenever someone tells me I am something my gut instinct is to be in general opposition). At the same moment, I think it was this reaction of wanting to feel better than the other people in the room. Like more advanced in a space where I was a complete novice - I had already figured it out. Without even starting. What I want is to relax and have fun. I thought this would be similar to the other yoga classes I had had in the past. I enjoyed them. I would do it again, obviously. This was nothing like other classes.
Worthiness is a tricky thing. Worthy in itself means something like having traits that merit some sort of recognition. A person who is special, notable. Someone who is above or different from the general population. There is a shift in my understanding of the term at the moment with the introduction of the idea that all living and non-living beings are worthy. Making everyone and everything inherently of worth somehow is in conflict with the notion of worth that I grew up with. For you to be worthy of an A, you had to be better than other people who were “not worthy” enough to receive that A. I thought a lot about it in terms of beauty. I come from an extremely fortunate line of people who fit the prescribed societial standards of feminine aesthetics.
My grandmothers were beautiful. My parents were both models. My sister is magnetic. In my mind, I was never beautiful (which is a shame because I was blessed with an able body and mind and I never could really appreciate what was). Have you ever looked back on your youth with the idea that you actually were the thing that you were so afraid you were not? It is that feeling. That deep feeling that you wasted all your time worried about being something you already were. Since I was not beautiful, I had to be weird. Weirdness is something also that can set you apart, something that you can also compete in. Also, a bizarre measure of worth, but still.
Kundalini yoga is a form of yoga that involves chanting, breathing exercises, movement, and repetitive poses. One of the goals is to wake up your Kundalini energy, the spiritual energy located at the base of your spine. Liya mentioned it was the yoga of the mind. And it felt true. I told my skeptical side to take a backseat. That I had to believe it for anything to work. So I did.
I bobbled my head and cleaned out my energy. I chanted to the best of my abilities. I pounded my chest for six minutes straight, alternating punches from side to side. Closed our eyes and shook our bodies out by dancing for longer than felt comfortable. Looked into a stranger’s eyes and listened to them tell us all the ways believing in their worth looked like. I thought about how this was a spiritual version of what M goes through multiple times a day when she does her breathing treatments. She breathes in salt. We pound her lungs for 20 min. It is the default for her.
When it was time for Shavasana, I was ready to be done. I felt sore. I laid down and that’s when it happened. I was there, and then not there. I was in the future. In this very real, hard-to-describe location. And this feeling of complete comfort wrapped around my body. M was there. And she was old. She was really old. And she was healthy. She was passionately telling me about her life with awe and wonder. I was listening, taking in her joy as if it was my own. I know we are discouraged from owning others’ joy as our own, but this was lovely. I let myself indulge in the idea of her fullness. That she had been offered the gift of time. Multiplied by the sheer delight that I was around to see it.
I stayed there for what felt like way too short. Even though, by resting there, believing in this fantasy, I had ultimately forgone the life that had to be lived in the middle. The strategy of how to actually get to this moment, lost, or unknown to me. When I came to, and realized what had happened, I felt this moment of trust. For what was to come. It lasted but a minute before I started back in with the uncertainty of it all.
We cold plunged (ice water for 2 full minutes, and it was awesome). We sat in the sauna, the heat tingling our bodies. I didn’t want to leave. But I had to be home for evening treatments. I already felt the guilt of being gone too long.
When I got home, M was waking up from her nap. I looked at her, and for a moment, felt some certainty that we would have a future. No one is entitled to a future, but that shouldn’t keep us from wanting one.
Last week, on IG I took a poll about longing. AND had like 500 responses. They ranged from wanting a job, to a home, to feeling safe, and missing family but most were about romantic love. Wanting to find this perceived wholeness that can only be located by receiving love from another being. This is understandable, we are social creatures conditioned by society to find and exist within the right balance of codependency. There is no real guide to how to live with others, and yet still be independent. Or love someone just enough not to lose sight of yourself.
So what do we do with all this longing? Is it saying something about us at this moment? I am not sure… You?
This week, we are giving a way two copies of my book, It’s OK To Feel Things Deeply. Comment here if you want a copy, unfortunately, I can only cover shipping in the USA. Don’t hate me, it just gets really expensive to ship abroad.
Also, this week:
I am talking to Grace Chang from Kintsugi. Since AI tech has been in my newsfeed for the past few weeks, I thought it would be really interesting to talk to an expert. Grace is the co-founder of Kintsugi Health which has developed a system recognizing patterns in speech that detect mental health needs. It doesn’t matter what you say, just how you say it. Grace is going to talk about how and why she started the company as well as the state of AI at this moment.
As always, thanks for being here. I am very grateful to share everything with you.
BAD AT KEEPING SECRETS is a reader-supported publication. If something resonated with you, we would be honored if you subscribed.
Just went through a pretty bad breakup and I still have so much I am longing for (closure, connection, intimacy) with no real "know-how" in regards to how to navigate through my longings and what I need to manifest next in order to move forward in healing and abundance. Would LOVE a copy!
Now I remember loving Berkeley as a student wife during Vietnam War - was it the philosophical capitol of the world?