According to Buddhism to desire something means that you suffer…and that’s why I’m not a Buddhist. Those following the noble path would say the desire to have keeps one in a state of dukkha – suffering – and that creates samsara – a cycle. Yet I find that when I really want something, I feel alive. My mind is focused, my body alert and each step I take is about getting me closer to the goal. To say it’s about chasing the next thrill or the next material object cheapens that beautiful, heightened awareness and focus I get when I desire.
So how does myasthenia gravis affect desire for me? In a few ways:
1) Fatigue dulls desire
There’s no doubt about it – when you’re exhausted, you have less energy to desire. It can dull desires and therefore dull the sense of being alive. Regardless what that desire is, being tired makes you focused on simply achieving the basics. Desire for sex, desire to learn something new, desire to help others – all of these things can feel like extras that you just don’t have energy for. When it comes to sex, it is particularly important to communicate with your partner so that they know it’s not about them. Read more about sex and myasthenia gravis here.
2) The shift in desire
Because of the points raised above, the things you desire before may no longer feel as important to you. You may now desire simple things that you didn’t have to think about previously – basics like desire to have energy, desire to have strength and desire to sleep well.
3) The pain of desire
It’s human nature to want what you can’t have and Buddhism can feel more relevant when you desire things that are no longer attainable for you. Particularly if these things were once not out of reach.
Acceptance and refocus
The acceptance of these shifts when it comes to desire can be difficult, but it can also help you focus on what’s truly important moving forward. The key point is to save energy for those things that matter the most to you and things that keep you in a positive mood. I may desire working out every day (not often these days), but I know that it strips me of energy for everything else. So I allow myself certain times a week. By doing this I normally have more energy when I spend time with Elaine and also more desire for her.
Consider what your most important desires are, which ones are good for you and how you can help yourself have more energy for these things. You may to have to let some of the lesser or more challenging ones go but it only means you’ll be giving more to the key things in your life.