How Do We Know Our Heart’s Desire?
One of the most common questions that I am asked is “How do I know my heart’s desire?” Sort of seems like a dumb question until you realize that we live in a world where people have made it abnormal to live a joyous, fulfilled life. Listening to our heart and our desires is deemed selfish by many. To do work you love is considered a miracle. Somehow we have become so much the same, that our differences are labeled odd instead of unique or genius.
I know because I spent many years searching for my own heart’s desire. There are many things I love to do — write, study mythology and ancient texts, create businesses, travel, hang out with my kids, watch movies, and computer generated art. But those are not my heart’s desire, my heart’s desire is freedom. Freedom is what I feel when I write. Freedom is what I feel when I create something new. Freedom is what I feel when I watch August Rush, Shawshank Redemption, or Slumdog Millionaire. Freedom is what I feel when I see someone let go of their baggage and get a glimpse of truth. Freedom for me is like air. I can’t live without it. Put me in a cage (even a virtual one), and I can’t write, I can’t create, and I don’t want to talk to you. I won’t be able to think of anything but breaking free. For me, what I do is not as important as the spirit in which I do it.
Living One’s Heart’s Desire
When I think of someone who lives her dream perfectly, I think of my daughter Nicola (pictured above). At ten years old, she discovered the world of horses; and there has not been one day since where horses did not play a part in her life. Nicola is twenty-two now. In the last twelve years, I’ve never asked her if she fed her horses. I’ve never reminded her to practice riding. I’ve never searched for something to talk about with her — just ask her about her horses.
I’ll admit there have been quite a few times when I looked at her and said, “I just can’t listen to horses right now.” I’ve occasionally reminded her to eat or sleep. There have been many nights when I was searching for her only to find that she was out riding or cleaning the barn. There was even the nights that I stayed awake afraid as she slept with her new miniature horse in the barn when the temperature was only twenty degrees outside. She taught me to deal with my fear — beause I learned that I just can’t stop someone from their passion. It’s just not right. If her passion is exposing a fear or a frustration in me, it’s my problem.
Nicola demonstrates one of the first and most important key components of our heart’s desire, which is that it requires no motivation — none, zilch, nada. And she also reminds us of a component in dealing with others regarding our heart’s desire. If it bothers them, that’s their problem.
She also demonstrates the second component of living your heart’s desire, which is that things manifest for you easily. For years, Nicola’s dream was to trailer her horse to Colorado and spend a summer on the Parelli Ranch in Pagosa Springs. You had to be nineteen to participate. So the year Nicola was nineteen, she had the truck and trailor paid for and ready to go, the fee was paid, and she was off to Colorado. There was no thought that it would be any other way. I could not have stopped her from going with a million dollars. Everything in her life just fell into place to support her in her dream.
When she returned she decided to pursue an internship. At first, she tried to choose a trainer based only on credentials and reputation, and she ran into some big obstacles. I’ve learned that the obstacles show us that we’re not moving toward our heart; we are either pushing for our false self’s desires, or we are bringing up our beliefs and baggage to drop. In this case, she was following the recommendation of others.
But then she let go of her preconceived notions of who was meant to be her next teacher. With only a few emails, she had an internship, a job, and a place to live. Her trainer is not only a phenomenal rider and teacher, but a great mentor; she has opened doors that Nicola dreamed about since she was ten.
Why Don’t Follow Our Heart’s Desire?
So why don’t people follow their heart’s desire, their True Self? They don’t because they think they can’t. Someone else’s voice is louder in their mind than their own. They think God is guiding them, when it is really mom, dad, grandpa, the priest or the minister. It is that simple. Voices have been planted in our minds since we were young that value knowledge over wisdom, earning money over living from a perspective of abundance, and hard work over relaxed play. We dismiss someone who doesn’t suffer enough before they find joy and passion. We might even call them lucky. We hold on to things that make us miserable until life rips them away in a last ditch attempt to save us from ourselves. When we become truly passionless, we die.
The first step in finding your heart’s desire is to decide that you want to live from your heart’s desires. I know that sounds obvious, but few people ever make that decision. They think God will pop it into their life with some grand phenomenon. God already did pop it into our life — in the form of our heart’s desire.
If someone has opened a door for you, it is only because you knocked. If some voice has called you, it is your voice. When we get out of the way, the doors open and the phones ring. We often hear of people’s callings to fix others or preach for God. That is a big “go to jail card” that most of us believe at least for awhile. But that is never our True Self. It is our false self telling us what we should do if we are good. The True Self is always willing to help, to express, to give. But it doesn’t fix. It doesn’t fulfill obligations or duties. It is self oriented because that is how life works best.
Nicola didn’t need me to do anything but trust in her own ability to fulfill her dreams. Some might find that disconcerting because they don’t feel needed. But Nicola was giving me permission to work on fulfilling my own dreams. She didn’t need me to do it for her.
Drop the Shoulds
Know that your original desires are still within you; they never left even if you are 100 years old. Most people have burried them under a lot of crap; but they are still there. The crap that covers them usually begins with the word should. Heart’s desires never start with the word should. I should work at this job because it pays well. I should keep this job because it is secure. I should be happy because I have a job. I should do construction because my dad did construction. I should clean the house, do the dishes, and cook the meals because I’m a housewife and mother. I should keep being a doctor because I spent lots and lots of money in medical school……
With each “should,” notice that your words do not generate a good feeling. They take us in the wrong direction, away from our heart’s desires. Shoulds are always false lies that come from society (others), not our true nature. They are beliefs or lies that we have borrowed from authority figures in our life. We drop them by realizing that they are lies that have kept us from our heart’s desires. We must see that to make the U-turn that is necessary.
Often letting the shoulds go is accompanied by sadness or fear. In that case, just silently watch or observe the emotion knowing that it is just a symptom of letting go of something false. All of the tension that has kept that false idea in place has to leave, and often it doesn’t feel good on its way out. If it feels stuck, remind yourself that the should was false (for often we think that things that feel terrible are true).
After you drop the shoulds, look at the coulds. You’ll find coulds within you that are left over from the time you were young. I could be an astronaut, an Indian Chief, a cowboy, a pirate, a golfer, a travel agent, a homeless person, or a nomad. I could join the Army, sleep on the beach, climb mountains, kill myself, marry a billionaire, or watch Oprah. Now it is time to drop the coulds. Often people don’t like that — it feels like dropping potentials.
One at a time, look at the coulds on your list, and see how they feel. See what thoughts pop into your mind. Don’t think; let the thoughts arise so you can see what you believe. People don’t know what they believe because they are always thinking and looking at others.
When we get quiet, the beliefs arise. Once they arise into consciousness, we can keep them or let them go. I suggest letting them all go. Recognizing they are not win-win or don’t fulfill your true nature causes our True Self to cast them away with ease.
Letting go is really very easy once you realize you can do it.
With each thought, just let go of the idea that you could do each of the things on your list. Remember, you watch your mind just to see what comes up and to let go of whatever needs to go. You may fear that you’ll let your True Self or heart’s desire go. You can’t even if you wanted to. Every time you let go of something false, the True Self and its desires becomes clearer and more powerful — I guarantee it.
After you do this, you’ll notice things drop off the list and perhaps some new ones get added. Stay with it until you find the things that you probably do now but don’t take serious. That is often a sign that the True Self is being rediscovered. For example, you garden as often as you can but never thought you could do it for your job, you bake for people, you sail, you write letters to friends, you draw everytime you talk on the phone, you watch every movie that comes out, or you rescue animals. Usually, when people get to this item on the list (if it is even on the list), they say “but that is just what I do.” Sometimes, they will laugh as they say, “that is just who I am.” I’m usually thankful for the expression “Dah” at this point.
The Level of the Heart
Now we are at the level of the heart where things aren’t that complex. What often comes up next are the tears because of the times that no one wanted that part of us. Someone early in life didn’t value our True Self, and so we stopped valuing it. People wanted our good grades but not our flowers. They wanted our cleaning skills but not our homemade cookies. They wanted their garden weeded but not our plants. They wanted our knowledge but not our wisdom. They wanted our caretaking but not our love. They wanted us to be quiet, not talk.
Our gifts are always there and always have been there, and at some point the decision was made to give others what they wanted instead of giving what we wanted to give. For every talent or gift to be given, there is someone who wants it; and just because those someones are not our immediate family doesn’t mean a damn. Wanting our family’s approval is the worst disease on earth. Our own family often is the murderer of our heart’s desire. Our family teaches us that no voice (not your spouse, your child, your mother or father, not your priest, your minister, your best friend, or favorite teacher) should ever be louder than our True Self voice inside.
Our passions and heart’s desires come from our True Self (God, source, the Christ within, your mojo — call it what you want). They come from the best part of us, the part of us that cannot be destroyed or lost. Our true joy, abundance, love, and peace come from expressing that part of us. We will not be truly happy until we do. For me that is freedom. For others it is play, peace, creativity, genius, strength, harmony, abundance, adventure, wisdom, truth, mystery, connection, oneness, or love.
What is Your Air?
Don’t get me wrong. I love adventure. I enjoy love and peace as much as anyone else. But those are not my air. Those do not feed me with life force. Once we know our driving force, whatever we do bcomes a joyous expression of that life focus. No matter what focus or force drives you, when it comes from the heart within, the true Self, it is always win-win and always unconditionally loving for everyone. That is why when you ask someone who is wildly creative or doing what they love why they write, paint, sing, or run, they will answer, “I don’t know; but I think if I didn’t do it I would die.” They’ve found their air, their heart’s desire.