Passion vs. Driveness

This past week I have been listening to the Detox Summit, hosted by Dr. Deanna Minnich in collaboration with the Institute of Functional Medicine.  As I described yesterday to my husband, in listening to the summit I feel like I am in the movie the Matrix, where Keanu Reeves is “downloading” martial art techniques:-)  In other words, there is a substantial amount of information I feel inspired to learn about and absorb right now.  (As an aside, there are still four days left in the summit, and it is presently being offered for free.  It counts as CEUs for physicians (such as MDs, NDs, DCs, ODs, and so on), just in case you feel inspired to tune in).  Although the talks have all been substantial, informative and to some extent inspiring, the talk today given by Dr. Thomas Moore, resonated on a deeper level what felt to me like a compelling truth.  To back up and give a bit of context, as you likely know (if you’ve ever visited my site before or know me personally), I am a yoga teacher, as well as a mother of three (as well as many other things, including a bitch from time to time…).  Alongside my living practice of service to my family and my living tissues (aka my body through nourishment and exercise), while I have time off from schools, my summer school intensive includes a medley of nine books that I have been dabbling in simultaneously (these include: Power, Freedom and Grace by Deepak Chopra; Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson; Women Who Run with Wolves by Clarissa Pinkoka Estee; The Education of Oversoul 7 by Jane Roberts; The Evolving Self by Mihaly Cskiszentmihalyi; Power and Force by David Hawkins; Psychology of the Future, by Stanilav Grof; Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer; and finally Yoga as Medicine by Timothy McCall).  Now, I appreciate that you may not believe this ADD approach to reading as the best method for learning…however what I learned last term in my Motor Learning and Motor Control class regarding interrupted learning techniques is that they produce greater long term learning results when compared to standard massed learning techniques.  As well, Todd Kashdan, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology at George Mason University, recommends having all your interests in the same space at the same time so they can smash into one another and inspire true creativity (which has me thinking of the CERN particle collider….).  I feel these arguments totally justify my attention deficit approach to reading, just in case you were looking to argue about it:-).  All of these topics reach the taste buds of my mind as tasty morsels plucked fresh from the sea of consciousness, slathered in garlic and eaten raw.  Although loaded with altruistically well-intended omega-3 fatty acids for my intellectual development, while digesting this surge of information alongside my living practice of familyhood and me, I’ve noticed fluctuations in my emotional and physical experience.  At times I feel in the flow of this all encompassing, dynamic experience, I feel vital and alive, I feel energized and joyful, I feel happy and present.  At other times however I feel cranky and anxious, I feel confused and irritable, I feel tired and sad.

After a timely discussion yesterday with my wise neighbor and elder mentor (how will I feel about someone referring to me this when sometime? I imagine good, so I hope its perceived/received that way), I realized that the anxiety of learning creeps up into my throat when I feel in a hurry to be ARRIVED: when I feel DRIVEN by the knowledge, to get where I’m going, instead of having faith in the process, either as the relaxed driver or as the passenger enjoying the experience of the journey.  It’s at these points of self-reflection I first smile and chuckle, as well as take an all important deep breath and long exhale…ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.  It is super important for me to remember the difference between when I feel I am driving my learning pace versus when it is driving me, especially as I try to carve my way from a professional point of view.

Further helping me deepen my understanding of the difference between living in flow and living a stuck life, the talk yesterday given by Dr. Thomas Moore helped me realize that it is GOOD to feel PASSION, but not driveness.  It is good to let go of the expectations of what is to come, letting go of this overarching sense of responsibility for A) knowing what I want and need, and B) manifesting it for my future self.  Thomas Moore describes this future goal setting/planning/manifesting as the “existential anxiety of living”, and thinks it is epidemically tied up in our unhealthy infatuation with perfection.  He recommends instead allowing the gifts of today’s joy and passion fuel our now, and to accept this as enough, maybe even to trust in it: using passion as our needle on the compass.

Now for me, this feels somewhat scary, as I fear a bit of recklessness.  Passion is love, and love is almost never tidy, it is definitely not sterile, nor clean, nor perfect.  In fact, from my experience, Love and Passion are synonymous with mess and spontaneity.  They are imperfect, flawed and most definitely HUMAN, but isn’t that not only O.K. but worth celebrating.  Furthermore, based on what I know of Positive Psychology, and the work of Martin Seligman, Barbara Fredrickson, Dan Gilbert and Rick Hanson, Love and Passion and Joy are synergistic energy principles that contribute to the upwards spiral in life that feels like flow and has been proven to be apart of vital change…so maybe we really can trust our passion, joy and love as guides to movement in life.

Of course living this truth takes change, as I know my habits are currently in defiance of this epiphany…and so I have my work cut out for me.

On a practical level, I think it will help me to reflect on whether I feel passion versus driveness in the moments of my life; and use my intuition to settle myself into what ever feels like love, joy, inspiration and/or interest.  I think this will look like recognizing when I feel fire in my belly versus when I feel desire or expectation.  Or, when I am being inspired by goal attainment versus enjoyment and presence in the journey.

If this means anything useful for you, I am glad.

It was a joy to write:-)

With Love,


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