Longing, defined as a strong, persistent desire or craving, especially for something unattainable or distant.
Longing can show up in many forms: Longing to be somewhere else, to be with someone else, to be someone else or even perhaps to feel something else.
Longing can remove us from the present moment, wishing we were somewhere else. Moments, days, or weeks can go by, and we realize that we are no longer showing up in our everyday life. We can feel disconnected, unhappy, and dull. We are coasting, getting by, and longing for other things, other days, or other people. Longing serves as a distraction from being truly present in your life.
Through my Buddhist meditation practice, I have learned that staying in the present moment creates a rich existence. We try to predict the future, long for things we don’t currently have or feel, and it doesn’t work. Being present with what is, will lead us to more happiness.
When we slow down and make contact with the parts of ourselves that want us to be different than we are, we usually find that it’s the young part of ourselves wishing for something different. The little girl or little boy who is scared, angry, shamed, feeling little value or a false sense of self; wishing his/her life was different. If we can learn to be with these young parts of ourselves with compassion, we start on a path of leading a more full and rich life.
In working with clients, I often see the desire to be better, to make more money, and to work harder. Clients often find it hard to stay in the moment and be present with their feelings and their emotions. If we can learn to see what we have in the moment, to put the longing aside, we may be surprised to find that we are doing better than we thought.
Even if you take a moment now – close your eyes – go within – sit with yourself for a moment in the presence of your life. See what you have created. Notice all the things you appreciate about yourself and all the ways in which you are thankful. Perhaps it is for the big heart you have, the compassion you have for your friends, or the way you listen to others. Make a list of those things that you appreciate in your life. Try to focus on three things a day that you are grateful for. Keep that list close and when you are longing or wishing for something else, take that list out and come back to your gratitude for what is.
Reminding ourselves compassionately to stay in the present moment, will lead to a happier and more fulfilling life.
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
— Henry David Thoreau
“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh