Embodied Transformation & Evolution

The Fire of Your Longing ~ what your darkness needs

Posted by on Apr 3, 2018 in Featured Writing, Lifeletters & Articles | 2 comments

The Fire of Your Longing ~ what your darkness needs

A friend spoke to me yesterday about how the feeling of the spring sunlight on her body feels like a healing force. She has been moved to open and deeply receive the blessing of the light and warmth, deep into her cells. We are drawn to fire as a physical and a spiritual energy: it penetrates us and gives us life. It nourishes our cells, our hearts, and our minds. It awakens certain capacities and gifts in us that are essential to our human existence. The warmth and light of the sun bring joy, vitality, movement. During our human history we have always danced and sung together, around the fire.

And what about our inner fire? This fire needs tending too. Our inner fire brings another kind of life, and many essential gifts. Some of these gifts are soul qualities connected with the will force. Our will force is not what we believe it to be-it is not an energy that pushes, strains and forces. It is not coercive. Our true will is connected with the core of who we are, with the fire of what we love and long for most deeply. When we know what this is, when that fire stays bright, we live with dedication and persistence. We can stay the course. We may encounter serious constraints and obstacles on our path, but we do not collapse in disappointment and defeat. Or if we do collapse, its temporary. We find our way back up to standing and then walking.

This inner joyful burning changes the way that I function: it transforms the vibration of the energy I bring to my life. My efforts become graceful, because they are continuous and persistent, rather than sporadic and half-hearted. And this inner fire is generous–It bows to the necessity for friction and resistance before full manifestation can occur. This inner flame grows us up! Without it I remain young inside, ready to be defeated or terribly disappointed when life gets difficult.This fire made of my will and my longing gives me courage, boldness-it doesn’t let me huddle in a safe place where I take no real risks.

Many of us do not know how to walk through life like this. In my coaching and healing work I often encounter a hidden place in people where they gave up on themselves a long time ago. They decided to just get along, to not hope for too much, to pour a heap of white ash on their inner flame whenever it rose up with a deep vision, a longing, a desire that inflamed the heart. Very often they have no idea of what they really long for.

I have felt these same places in myself, where I encounter the bitter taste of defeat and collapse. Often it is trauma that has left this kind of imprint on us. Stumbling upon these dark places in ourselves can be frightening and overwhelming. We feel ashamed; we want to avoid them, find some kind of work around. But just like Frodo, we have to find our way through our own Mordor, with good comrades and allies. We need companions to help us enter these desolate areas in the soul. Our frozen places call out to us all the time, asking us to find a way to re-ignite the inner fire. This is what our darkness needs.

I believe that most of us are deeply reluctant to ignite this inner burning. We are afraid of the depth of our longing. Longing is intense: it does burn us, transform us, penetrate us to the core. That is its function. We fear the power of this flame, the clarity-we don’t want it to take over. Somewhere deep inside we know our inner fire is being fed from a source much greater than we are. We are not ready for this much passion, or this much love.

Many kinds of spiritual teachings guide us away from this depth of longing, warn us about desire, encourage us to shun it, to be satisfied with what we have, not to ask for more. I dare you to deeply question this kind of guidance. If you believe these teachings, you cannot listen to the questions that arises from deep inside your own soul: “What do I really want? What do I want to give? What do I want to offer my life energy to? What do I want to stand for?”

Gratitude and contentment are very different from tolerating a life that does not fit you, different from settling for a way of being that stifles your soul. You can long deeply and still be thankful. Love, longing, and deep gratitude can flourish together inside your heart-you can become a home for their co-existence. Let your wild and beautiful heart grow strong enough to hold your longing, to give your longing the freedom that opens you into a deeper intimacy with life, with yourself, with everything that is calling you.

“What if the heart does not pale as the body wanes,
but is like the sun that blazes hotter each day
on these immense, perishing fields? What then?”
~Jack Gilbert, “Getting Ready”

with love,


photo credit: Hannah Troupe on Unsplash


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  1. Carol Stewart

    Beautifully expressed Shayla…I love in particular you words about one’s will and your recognition and appreciation of the sacred role of desire as a positive connection, deep evidence of our connection to what makes authentic relationship possible – our Soul. I continue to love the skill of your writing ability, so many sweet and essential distinctions are articulated. Thank you so much.

  2. Colleen Carpenter

    Thank you Shayla I appreciate your writings and insights. For me the place of longing is a difficult and often scary place to be. The MANY spiritual teachings are full of information on ‘Ways to Be’ , how to act, what to think, what kind of spiritual life is best. Gurus and teachers abound with their own ideas and wisdom teachings. Often longing and desire are on the list of human frailties, something to ‘Get Over’, something ego based. Something maybe our parents told us was selfish, unworthy of feeling and to be grateful instead. Finding our own path takes strength and much courage. Courage to follow our heart and intuition to find a life that fits. One that is heart based and congruent with our spirit and soul. I can have gratitude for the choices and life I have but I also carry a longing which I need to honour. A fire as you say. I feel the desires as strongly as my gratitude and wish to hold them both with equal value. While dancing in the flames of the fire I can feel fearful and insecure but the knowing that the flames are just the Phoenix Rising keeps me forging ahead. As Albert Einstein said it so beautifully, we listen to our fearful mind more than we listen to our heart and intuition. The fact that my heart is much smarter than my mind is obvious. Staying with this knowing is the challenge.

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