You can become comfortable with desire.
What do you want?
No, I mean, what do you really want?
If you're like so many of us, that question stirs up ambivalence, at best.
“My life is pretty good. I’ve got all this stuff to be grateful for… Am I allowed to want things, too?”
I have a news flash. A lot of the things we want are actually good for us.
But we avoid admitting that we want them because we learned that wanting things was a problem. We get so caught up trying to figure out what we want that we tangle ourselves in knots.
What if it didn't have to be that hard? What if you could get comfortable owning your desires? And what if getting comfortable made getting things feel a bit like magic?
With the tools available in Speaking of Desire, there’s no need to hedge your bets or water down your goals. In a few hours of practice, you can get good at identifying what you want and saying it.
[visual mock up of product goes here with a “Buy Now” button]
A skillful relationship with desire is key to conscious growth.
The important word there is “skillful”.
Being honest about you want and moving towards it can help you become more fully yourself. And this moves the needle of the world towards flourishing.
(This is a bold claim, so you might want to keep reading.)
Many closely related feelings masquerade under the same name.
Is it a whim, an obsession, or a calling of the heart? Being able to tell the difference makes everything else easier.
In this workshop, I give you the tools to tease apart these different sensations. You can come to trust desire when you can feel the difference between them.
Knowing what you want and why you want it makes it a lot easier to say the words out loud. Most of our wants are like a finger pointing at the moon. Underneath them, there is an unfilled need, and when you recognize the need, it is much easier to admit what you want.
Even better, asking directly for what you want makes it much more likely that you will find your way to it.
(That's true even if the first answer is no.)
If you can redirect energy from distractions to priorities, everything gets easier. You can even save time and money by not spending it on things you don't want.
If you want to spend more of your time doing what you love, you can start Speaking of Desire... right now!
[Buy Now button goes here]
Well, what is in this workshop, then?
The core of the workshop is a step by step exploration of the experience of wanting things.
Desire, in my language, is a deep yearning of the soul for wholeness, but it has a suite of cousins that wear the same mask. We are all encouraged to want certain things (even if we don't). We are also taught not to want other things (even if we do).
Within this workshop, we develop discernment.
We build a set of tools to explore your own inner landscape. You focus on the sensations of different kinds of wanting, and learn to tell them apart.
By the end, you can untangle the threads and learn to focus on one thing at a time. It's like learning to listen to one instrument in an orchestra. And it helps your sort your priorities from other people's
[Imagine what that could do for you. - headline/transition]
Most of us have so many "shoulds" pulling at us that the possibility of asking for pleasure or joy seems absurd.
But even choosing among these requires us to be able to tune into our intuitions and inner wisdom. We can't balance everybody's expectations, so there comes a time that we have to make choices.
Imagine how much easier things could be if you could do so without ambivalence or resentment.
Your "yeses" and "nos" would be clear and unambiguous.
“I choose to do this,” is a much more powerful position than, “I have to do this.”
[Insert “Yes, that sounds great… I’m in! Buy Now”]
Myth: Good people are (entirely) content with what they have.
Hi! I’m Seonaid (that’s Shona) Lee, the creator of Speaking of Desire. I’m an adult educator, meditation and yoga teacher, and recovering people pleaser. I have had adventures and security and live in the city and the country. I have deep gratitude for my life and the people in it.
Speaking of Desire was born from my need to reconcile two competing stories.
On the one hand, desire was the cause of suffering. You should distrust and avoid it.
On the other, it was the greatest gift of the soul, and the key to manifesting reality. You should embrace and lean into it.
Well, which was it?
The first story was pretty compelling.
I was raised to distrust my desires for fun and pleasure. You weren't allowed to play until the work was done. (Spoiler: The work is never done.)
You could make me stop asking for something by saying, "Is it a need, or is it just a want?" (The implication was that wants were trivial, frivolous... you know. Selfish.)
But I spent years trying to meditate my wants away, and I hadn’t made very much progress. Those pesky desires kept coming up and tapping me on the shoulder. They pulled me in a thousand different directions.
One day, somebody asked me (and meant it) what I wanted. I tipped my head to one side and furrowed my brow. I asked, "I'm allowed to want things?"
They said yes.
I said I didn't know.
With all that effort, I hadn't stop wanting things. But I had learned to hide that part.
I kept hoping that things I wanted would show up. Magically. With no effort on my part. And certainly without my admitting that I wanted them.
When they didn't, I thought it was because I didn't deserve them. And when they did, I didn't trust them... because I thought I didn't deserve them.
I turned away from things I wanted desperately. Because I had learned to distrust all the calls from inside.
But some of them were yearnings for truth, and some of them were escape fantasies. Some of them were an unhealthy desire for numbness. But some of them were healthy desires to feel alive, and loved, and connected.
I needed to learn to tell the difference.
So I meditated... with a different set of goals.
I'll be honest: I really, really want you to take this workshop!!!
I want the world to be move towards wholeness. I want people to be fulfilled and happy, because that makes the world a better place.
(“People” includes you.)
The workshop has four key parts.
1. A Constellation of Needs
Maslow never told us to stop on the bottom two rungs. Social needs are still needs. The yearning for meaning is valid.
This part’s a bit more on the “lesson” side of things, because I want to start you off with a permission slip.
I start with an overview of the differences between wants and needs. (It's not clear-cut.) You'll get my take on Maslow, and how his work gets misused. And we'll investigate how you might have developed some less-than-helpful ideas about desire.
2. Textures of Desire
This is the core set of practices. We use guided meditations to acquaint you with how desire feels in your body.
We'll explore what it feels like to distract yourself. We'll try on other people's desires for us. We'll hold the discomfort of ambivalence. And we'll find the sensation of clear desire, even if it's only for tacos.
3. Clarify your desires
Once you know what desire feels like, you can start to untangle it.
Complex desires are complex. They often have several layers, and it helps to be able to tease them apart.
In this stage, I introduce a clarifying meditation to work through these layers. By the end, you'll have a better sense of what need the desire points towards.
Filling your Cup
This set of meditations also includes a visualization to ease the urgency and shame that desire can stir up.
At the root of what you want, you will often find that there are many possible paths to addressing the deeper need.
This makes any one solution less charged, and it becomes much easier to ask clearly.
This process prepares us for the next step, which is releasing the outcome.
4. Releasing the Outcome
What if They Say “No”?
I’m quite insistent on this point: “I Love You,” isn’t an invoice.
I want you to know that these desires are yours. They originate inside you, and no particular other person needs to meet those needs.
But the fact that the answer might be no shouldn’t prevent you from asking. And if the answer is no, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have asked. It doesn’t even mean you can’t have that thing. It means that you can’t have that thing… from this person… right now.
What if They Say “Yes”?
The last thing we'll work with is a willingness to expand.
Getting things you want can be uncomfortable. It can undermine your sense of what is good and right. You might have to accept that you "deserve" things. You might have to think more highly of yourself (or others.)
Also, you might have to do things that are surprising. "The Universe" sometimes unfolds very quickly and we find ourselves running to keep up. This is a different set of skills. It involves a lot of deep breathing :)
Bonus #1: Journalling Prompts
Usually when I teach this, there is small group discussion, but this version is a solo journey. That brings us to our old friend, the journal.
The course includes a printable workbook with writing prompts. These are also provided as a single page that you can print out to stick into the front of your own journal.
Bonus #2: Taking your Seat
I provide an introductory lesson on posture and mental focus. This is designed to make your meditation practice more comfortable and effective.
Bonus #3: Meditation Menu
Hey, I like this meditation thing... what should I try next?
Saying "I meditate," is like saying, "I exercise." Which it to say, it's a broad category.
I've put together a list of twelve suggestions for next steps in a meditation practice. Each of them comes with ideas of when they might be useful, plus guidelines on how to get started.
How long will it take to do?
The recorded materials are under 2 hours, although you may go through them at your own pace. They build on one another, so you do need to do them in order and not skip anything. You should be able to complete the entire workshop in an afternoon. although you may find that listening to the recordings more than once helps.
Do I have to do it right away?
Nope. You have access to it as long as the site is up. The audio and PDFs are downloadable, and you can keep them as long as you want.
Is this just for women?
Oh, hell, no! Jump on in. Seriously, I’ve taught it in mixed-gender and queer settings, and it’s an inclusive set of practices.
Can this help if I don’t even know what I want?
Most of us do know, but we're hiding it. We have yearnings and stirrings… but we have been taught to ignore them. Eventually we can’t hear our own voices.
These meditations start you off with small things (like a glass of water or a walk to the park). You warm up your wanting “muscles" so that when you're prompted for bigger things, you have some ideas.
Also, you can do it more than once and pick bigger things each time.
Can you promise me that I’ll like what I find?
Um. No. I’m sorry. Sometimes our deepest desires are disruptive, even if they are relatively small. The unfolding of a life doesn’t always conform to our expectations. I can’t control what you'll find at the bottom. A lot of us are in lives that are too small, and admitting that is uncomfortable.
Wait… all this talk about desire… Is this really about sex?
No. Well… I’ve taught it in that context, and it’s useful for clear communication in the bedroom, but no.
It’s about desire as the pull of the heart towards what is nourishing. That might be sex. But we also want healthy food, to move our bodies, and to find meaning. You may discover a thirst for deeper friendships, communication, or creativity.
This approach helps connect you with any number of things that you want to have or do. But yes, sex is one of those. Sometimes.
Well, can you help me get rich and famous?
I suspect that you will find that wealth and fame are a substitute for something else. Money is often about security or freedom. Fame is often about recognition or validation. What you want can usually be obtained without the effort involved in getting rich and famous.
Also... wealth and fame are no guarantee of happiness. Or fulfillment.
But if, at the end of the workshop, you find that you still want to be rich and famous, you’ll have a set of tools. “Rich and famous” is more of a dream than a goal, and you still have to figure out what you -->want<-- to do next to get there. (See what I did there?)
What's the format?
Everything is provided as downloadable MP3 files so you can take them with you to practice on the go. There are also printable transcripts for accessibility (or for taking notes).