At the beginning of Lent this year, I decided to take a break from alcohol.
One of my reasons for doing so was to experiment with committing to something I didn’t especially want or feel the need to, in order to nudge me out of my comfort zone.
Three days in, I was out running and thinking of the 40-day period, and decided it would be pertinent to note any triggers of wanting a drink along with the energy attached to it.
Earlier that day, with a full day’s work ahead, the fleeting thought of a G&T at the end of it crossed my mind and in the same moment realised it wasn’t an option. Mulling it over as I ran, I thought that on a scale of 1 to 5 if 5 was the strongest urge I could have for a drink, that my G&T wish was maybe a 1 or 2. I expected that during Lent a 1 or 2 would be as high as it ever got – maybe a 3 after a few weeks…?
Pounding along the pavement, within minutes I had a complete idea download of framing the scale markers as creatures and therefore being able to recognise the energy attached to them.
The benefit of being able to identify the creature of our wanting is that we can then respect the energy dynamic it brings and the attention it seeks.
In being aware, we can choose to consciously acknowledge our boundaries and to align our life with the highest version of ourselves.
The 4 Creatures of Wanting
You may notice I’ve done away with the 1-5 scale marker I mention above and gone for 4 creatures. Sometimes 3 can be an unesessary fence-sitting midpoint so for clarity have omitted.
The Butterfly is flighty, fanciful and gets our attention but no sooner has it landed than it has taken off.
− The Wanting Energy Of The Butterfly appears in consciousness as a thought, but by its nature, is light and not something you feel the need to do anything about.
− It goes away of its own accord.
2. Playful Puppy
The Playful Puppy wants attention. It invites you to engage with it as it comes carrying a play toy (a justifiable reason for having the thing you want).
− The Wanting Energy of The Playful Puppy can go either way. At the lower end of the 2 scale, you’ll find you can readily pick up ‘the toy’ and throw it away. However, at the top of the 2, you’ll feel inclined to hold on to ‘the toy’ and enjoy a ‘harmless’ tug-of-war. Look out for this almost seamless energy shift; the more attention it gets, the more it may ask you to play.
− It desists once it is acknowledged in a healthy way, ie not too much and not too little. If it is slightly more persistent and nudging the top end of the 2, you may need to adjust the balance for a while by consciously choosing the action of ‘throwing the toy’ again and again instead playing with it.
3. Strong Dog
The Strong Dog is the one taking its owner for a walk, the one that’s constantly straining on the leash that just will not heel.
− The Wanting Energy of The Strong Dog is an entirely different energy dynamic to The Playful Puppy despite it being the same creature. It is a ‘barely under-control’ experience and feels like a constant battle of will. Whether you do or don’t want to go in the same direction the energy pulls consistently. No sooner has the dog been brought to heel than it returns to creating tension again.
− The 3 energy desists through strong and consistent boundaries by the owner. It is not a game, and reasoning with the dog won’t do any good either, asserting your intention to keep it in check and remind it who’s boss, will
4. Wild Horse
The Wild Horse is perhaps the creature that most of us will have the least tangible experience of, and yet no doubt can recall an image of the sheer force that is a galloping horse with its hooves, mane and tail airborne.
− The Wanting Energy of The Wild Horse is relentless, it is full-blown craving. The horse will always want to run. At the bottom of the 4 scale you are aware of it’s power and that help is needed to bring it under control; at the top end of the 4 scale you are not consciously aware of it’s strength and are completely over-taken by it (no matter how much you know about riding horses).
− The 4 energy desists ultimately once the horse yields to its trainer through connection. Just as with the horse, the egoic wanting energy cannot be controlled through fear. It needs to be respected for what it is meant to teach us as the tamer of our higher self steps in. It is often not a quick fix and a process that takes time. Our wildest horses are our addictions we’re given the opportunity to heal.
The Gift Of The Four Creatures
Unless simple curiosity has led you to read this post, I’m making a little assumption that you will likely be aware of stronger levels of wanting in your own life to some degree or other.
The gift of The Four Creatures is that the strength of their energy is an indicator of the quality of attention needed in order to release the energy attached. Understanding the energy is the first part, releasing the energy is the other.
Next week I’ll share how to do the latter but for this week, if you find yourself identifying with a creature or two here and want some practical tools to help…
Three Things You Can Do Today To Connect With Your Creature of Wanting
- See if you can notice the moment the wanting arrives. What are the circumstances that triggered it? Can you recognise its presence and just observe it there? Rather than ignoring or blocking it, can you allow yourself to feel the feeling without acting upon it? Directed attention on our shadows gives them nowhere to hide, bringing them ‘to light’ is essential for our growth. Keeping a journal can be helpful.
2. Get practical, breathe! As well as reducing stress, thirty deep inhale/exhalations will act as a 2-minute distraction time-frame from the immediate thought trigger of the want.
3. Finally, be realistic about what creature is present. Are you kidding yourself it’s a playful puppy when you know it’s really a wild horse? Are you trying to get the strong dog to heel by hoping it will do so of its own accord like the butterfly? Honesty with ourselves is the key.
I hope this has been helpful, here’s to acknowledging those creatures this week!