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by Lisa Anderson Shaffer, LMFT
August 15th 2021

Hi Friends and welcome to JOY IS NOW! The podcast where we take a psychologically minded look at life. I’m your host Lisa Anderson Shaffer, coach, consultant, and resident psych enthusiast.

Hi friends and welcome to Joy is Now the podcast where we take a psychologically minded look at life. I'm your host, lisa Anderson Shaffer, therapist consultant and resident psych enthusiast Joy is Now is sponsored by listeners like you visit lisa Anderson Shaffer dot com to join the community and become a one time or recurring patron of the podcast. A special thanks to my Joy patrons and my sweet affiliate friends at OSEA. The makers of clean seaweed skincare save 10% on your OSEA purchase with code JOYISNOW Today I'm excited to host for an emotion segment discussion Taiwanese Canadian spirit communicator wu shamanic occultist and the founder of the brand Ceremonie focused on imparting ancient and practical wisdom to clients on the path to self discovery. Mimi Young welcome many to Joy is Now.
Hi Lisa, thank you so much for having me. It's so delightful to talk to you this morning.

I know it's like before it was just DM's on IG. And now keep this here.
Yeah. We were just saying before we started recording that we're instagram friends.
Mm hmm. A whole new category. Right? Like for this generation social friends.
Yeah. It's strange to think of where to put that because when I was making friends in a very social way it was before cell phones say Yeah,
I mean we came from like, I don't know. But you know like I grew up with phones that were still stuck to the wall and it was corded. Like we didn't even have cordless phones for a long time.
Remember how amazing it would be if you could convince your parents to get the extra long.
Yes. Yes. Yes. I told you we're talking about when you could close the door and in your room. But the walls because the phone had to be in a place where everyone had access to it. Right kitchen living room.
So you knew you had it good with the family if you could convince someone to get the extra long coiled cord so you could close the door and still be on the phone.

Even if you were like totally stuck to the door on the other side because that's as close as you could get or as far as you could get. Yeah, totally didn't matter just to have that like that container of that boundary.
Yeah. So funny. And now it's all open.
I feel like when I think of my frustration with social media and what it has provided or not provided and the doors that it opened and the doors that it's closed, I am always reminded of people like you that we met because of this kind of amazing metaphysical space and I'm always grateful for that.
Same here. Yeah. So so grateful. And it's true. It's so easy to demonize social media or technology in general. But you can definitely use it in a conscious way and and make friends and grow grow your people.
Yeah. There's two sides to every story.
I am very excited to talk with you about what you brought to discuss today, do you want to tell everyone?
Yeah, so Lisa you've tasked me with considering what emotion would I like to, you know, put forth and to just yeah, just contemplate about and and so I arrived at longing,
I made a lot of connections kind of in my own life and and the greater sort of culture as to why that that would be relevant now, but I'm curious before we dive in, why is it on your mind?

I think for me, well first of all, it's always been on my mind and it's probably my most baseline emotion, like when I really have that chance to sit and think and longing is it's more complex than let's say anger or more complex and sadness because there's a sense of hope and trust and faith intertwines with something that is not there at the same time and me being born in, you know, in Taiwan and then immigrating to to hear what is known as, you know Vancouver Canada on coast Salish land if we want to be really specific in terms of honoring the indigenous peoples in this area, specifically Musqueam and Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples and growing up here that has been, you know, even to this day has been fairly white dominant, I think that it tied longing ties to this idea of home and so for me there was a leaving home at some point in my storyline and then also a need to return home, but to return home, I also have to leave home.

And then the whole definition of home is totally up for like for discussion and redefining and what exactly is home, because over there is not home anymore for me either.
That's fascinating there. I really, the idea of home resonates with me very deeply when I think about longing and I wonder if that's what I was really trying to say in some of the research and the information and thoughts that I gathered to start off our discussion today. I think maybe it was this idea of home and how that sort of shifts and evolves and changes what that means that at least it has for me in my life and what I consider home and it's a very big definition,
it's huge, it's huge and it's because it can involve place right? Like geography, but it also for me and involves food and language and blending in to look like the people around me. And then there's also yeah, that emotional connection with with other human beings and also once again going back the that emotional connection to the wind, to the mountains, to the ocean, to the trees,
all that that just gave me a little goose bumps, It's really beautiful.

I pulled some information together to get us started, are you good if we start there? And I give it a read.
Yeah, please.
Okay, here we go. When I think of longing. The first thing that comes to mind is not psychological theory as you might imagine. For someone with a deep interest and study of psychoanalysis to not make a mad dash for Freud, desire, delayed gratification, object relations, melancholy, guilt and patience, when longing is mentioned is a bit odd. Longing is such a big part of early development. Attachment, separation, independence, love, relationships, longing is present. We are born longing belonging to return to the womb. The minute we leave to have all of our needs met automatically to ask for nothing receive everything. This is a longing. Yet when I think of longing, the feeling of longing. I am reminded of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is not a gentle reminder, but a formidable pull from a strong current of how I feel. When I read his work, wanting each word to last the entire page like they are floating to me on a warm breeze, slow, heavy, languished.

If I try hard enough I might catch one and get to remain in the story on ending. There is no sadness or excitement and it is different from desire. I do not wish to take action, but just to be able to sit with each page while I turn to the next. Please don't ever let it end. I long for his words. I long for his characters. I long for his stories. It is the same way that I long for Ireland not to return for a few days, but to be able to get lost there in the green and the winds until belonging passes. However long that is if it ever passes, just leave me to the green. The rain leave me to the song of Ireland writer David Whyte in his book Consolations the Solace Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. " longing is nothing without its dangerous edge that cuts and wounds us while setting us free and beckons us exactly because of the human need to invite the right kind of peril. The foundational instinct that we are here essentially to risk ourselves in the world that we are a form of invitation to others and to otherness that we are meant to hazard ourselves for the right thing, for the right woman or the right man, for a son or a daughter, for the right work, or for a gift given against all the odds in longing."

"We move and are moving from a known but abstracted elsewhere to a beautiful about to be reached. Someone something or somewhere we want to call our own." I appreciate the idea of longing being a movement from unknown to an abstracted elsewhere. An ideal dreamy place where there is a right thing for us, whether that be a relationship or otherwise. I also appreciate the idea of dancing with the right kind of peril. We find ourselves here often. There is an excitement in this manageable amount of peril. There is just enough danger. Just enough risk. Just enough desire. And I wonder how important it is for the longing to be met. But how the act, the presence of longing fills us up so much takes up. So much space leaves us less to reflect upon the things that surround us the emptiness of our real lives. Suddenly we are full, filled with something that we have constructed a fantasy. And we like being here, this dangerous edge even when it hurts. So what does this look like? What's the hard science here?

Well, it's pretty interesting actually. A 2020 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that prairie voles showed activity and the nucleus accumbens. The same reward center that lights up during heroin or cocaine use when reunited with a monogamous partner, I think the classic running through the airport, romantic cinematic reunion scene, the longer the animals had been paired before separation, the closer their bond and the larger the cluster of activity of this part of the brain. Scientists concluded that when it comes to longing, mammals experience a similar feel good reward center as rather addictive narcotics. Do the same thing can ring true for love. The release of chemicals in both scenarios override our systems to seek out these situations because the ultimate result while might not be pleasurable or ideal long term. It certainly feels perfect in the moment, longing helps us reunite after long periods of time in short, long and keeps us together interesting, right? And maybe that's where my longing comes from for the words of Gabriel Garcia Marquez for Ireland a history time spent with words, characters, time spent with the country, A bond to reunite is to receive a rush a high.

Even if imagined it is strong enough to keep me in the fantasy.
You totally nailed it for me too.
I love that. I was hoping we talked before that a lot of times, sometimes it's very science based and I never know kind of where I'm going to start with the information that I share and I've learned to just let it go where it's going Instead of saying no, it needs to be 75% neuroscience. 25% psychology. Sometimes it's more thoughts. So I'm glad, I'm glad it resonated. Yeah.
I love how, I mean we're talking about sort of the reward centers and how it can really produce it like a rush as let's say a narcotic can. Yeah, I think for me, longing even though it does feel like if you wanted to put on a spectrum of pain, let's say like it's definitely closer to pain than not yet. It is like this care that's dangling in front of me. Right? And so I don't.

And yeah, I think a lot of it is fantasy that's wrapped into it. And I think we attach a lot of meaning to things through our own processes of longing maybe, and maybe some of the meetings just imagined, but yet it's we hold on to it because it's just something that we that is meaningful for us, that that offers some form of value.
Do you think that you seek out experiences or things that I don't know if it's encourage or if if it's produce or if it's ignite longing,
I don't know if I consciously do it, but I definitely am attracted to those storylines or those energies, like, even in music, I don't know if you've ever heard of an artist, He's a pianist, Chilly Gonzales. And what was really interesting, I've been to a show and so he's there on the piano and he's really great live. So he's playing Happy Birthday in the original cord and it's a it's a set of major chords, so it sounds happy and then he shifts it in place the tune, Happy Birthday on minor chords.

Oh, and it sounds ominous, it sounds so different. There's like a dangerous edge to it, sort of brooding and I don't know, like there's like something darker about it. And it kind of got me thinking because most music that I really enjoy are set in minor chords, like Philip Glass for instance, all minor, and when you think about it, his music really evokes this idea of longing if it's like that, you know, lollypop puppy love stuff that you hear on top 40 I turn it off, That stuff doesn't get me excited. So whether if I consciously do it or not, I do wind up there, I do too. And I really hadn't thought about it as longing until you presented the idea of talking to it. Yeah. And then I think I say to my kids, So for instance, when my son turned nine several years ago now, it's just it's saying to think that he's turning 13 in a couple weeks when he turned nine and we made it like a fun birthday, we always do.

And as we finished dinner and he was aware of the time and that, you know, the day was starting to approach his descent towards bedtime. He started crying. And I said, what are you crying about? Like what what do you like, what, what, what's bothering you? And he said, oh nothing's bothering me, He's just like I've had this perfect day and it's almost over. And he was just wanting to slow down time for those last few hours before bedtime. And to me that is also, it really does reference longing once again, right? Like you just you just want to keep it still the way it is for a little longer because he knows that you have to wait another year before you can, you know, celebrate birthday.
Yeah. The time being sort of a vehicle of longing makes makes as much sense to me as it does when you were mentioning music, you talking about the minor chord and how you feel about that really gave me sort of a container for why I there are certain Billie Eilish songs that I wish wouldn't end.

And it's the one off the top of my there the slower ones where her voice reaches this octave that is really, really get there through a whisper. Like Everything I Wanted is one and there's sort of that hypnotic beat underneath it and then she's kind of floating above it and it does induce this state of longing for me. It's very, it's very honest, it's it has that edge to it that that little piece of peril, like, like David Whyte is mentioning and it does have that almost sinister, haunting quality to it that makes me want to stay.
I know, I love that, that that sinister, like, I love that word, I've always loved that word, sinister. Yeah, I totally want to hang around and even if I ultimately don't want to hang around. I need to hang around long enough to figure that out. Yes. Yeah. Like what is that, what is that feeling? What's that? It's almost like there's a mystery that you just need to keep working on totally I find that really sexy, just that mystery that not knowing too much is too much until you've had too much and and always sort of pushing that, that boundary, that edge of the two muchness or that darkness or whatever it is, it's probably why I'm attracted to magic.

Yeah. That's so, it's so interesting to me how sometimes things that don't seem to have a linear quality when you really break them down can be quite linear and longing seems that way to me after, to be perfectly honest. I hadn't thought about it that much outside of like a very psychoanalytic perspective. Having to do with the infantile experience and all that, which is a it's it's important. But I also like the presence of longing, like it being a part of the day and there probably is a connection to why we like being in that feeling because it it is sort of what we first experience. That's our first like, where did where did it go? Oh, there was this place where everyone understood me and now I'm having to figure out how to vocalize and make noises and I have needs like what's the need? Oh my God, that's just that's like the earth shattering beginnings of life.

And I imagine that there's something deep within us that seeks out that longing feeling because we recognize it.
Yeah. I even loved how you talked about the womb because the womb is the home, right? Like, like it's so it's the same thing and when when we leave the womb, there's like the separation and that's yeah, I think when the separation is established, then you discover, oh wow, like there's that, that's probably the first need is like, I want to reunite with the mother, but it's it's so archetypal, it's not just like with the biological mother, it's just this, this this is the story that all humans have experienced since we've been around. And I would say even before we as a species became the species, other species have experienced this too, and it's always gone back to the land and perhaps even in relationship with the moon, like that, longing to see her, her face, like her full frontal face in the sky and then you know how she goes through these phases, where she goes dark, you can find her and the night sky is no longer illuminated.

Yeah, I think it's all connected. You made such a fascinating connection to me with the moon and our early experience as people in this body. However, that's a very wide set of bookends that possibly probably probably comes all the way around to meet itself somewhere, but in the very sort of wide focus sense. That's so interesting to think of the moon of this. Again, replication, like archetypes, they're they're all over how we sort of go through the same system or seek out the systems. My friend Aaron Estrada was a guest a couple weeks ago and we were talking about this idea of interpersonal psychotherapy and reenactments, not the right word, but how in therapy the relationship with the therapist is this sort of vessel for a re experiencing of a part of a relationship.

Some aspect of something that's happened before, how we behave in certain scenarios. And the therapist job, one of the therapist jobs is to metabolize that and be able to understand it. And almost kind of slow time enough to say, oh, this is this is the script, right? Like this is what this is the script that you've created from having to adapt or for survival, whatever it is. And now we can actually like stop and examine it. But it is very much a we're in these and maybe that's a longing to write is to examine what we don't quite understand why we behave or why we do the things we do or why we might react to something that we'd rather respond to theirs. Maybe longing is a part of what brings people to doing internal work of any kind. I think that's true for me. Yeah. And longing and the internal work, you talked about like replaying a script or identifying the script when I do it inside.

It's it's like you're reliving it and then maybe you're tweaking something to see what the outcome would have been. Um of course you can't change the past, but certainly having some clarity on what, how things may have landed. It gives you some tools on how you can approach, you know, your your present in your near future for sure.
Yeah, I think the tools are really important to me, it's the whole process is about the tools. It's how however you're going about it. It's like is it a is it going past the shiny?
meaning, I think there's lots of different levels of depth in internal work and some some people get to step two and and that's there at step two forever and they go from thing to thing that gets them to step two, great. You know, there's movement there, right? And then some people get to step eight of depth or understanding whatever that is and then they're going 9, 10, you know, to infinity or they're switching back from eight to okay, now I'm going to pull it back again, I'm gonna sit in this and think about what happened there, what I learned, what tools I gained there and then maybe I'm there for a while, maybe I go deeper.

But I feel like just in my clinical experience from seeing people work through all different kinds of modalities that it's that deeper stuff. Again, dancing with that discomfort or that peril a little bit, it sort of expands your toolbox, it expands what you can bring, like you said in the present, you can't you can't change the historical record, right? But you can examine it to improve the present for sure.
And I love how as you grow your toolbox, you grow as well and I'm able to no longer you know like if you know fine if you're born with just one shovel and that's like the only thing you have and you need to use a shovel to perform every task. Some things are suited to a large shovel but not everything. And so as you grow and you know develop not only a nice like set of garden tools and perhaps some you know woodworking tools and some painter's tools and all these other tools then you have this ability to self create so differently, right?

And I think that's what I find so fascinating because especially where it intersects with longing and magic or longing and metaphysics is that as the interface with other people who are also growing their toolbox things can really be dynamic and you can discover a lot about yourself that you didn't know existed. I mean they did exist but only in potential not in like that 3D materialized form.
I'm so glad you mentioned that because I was I was going to ask you about magic and longing and I love that idea of potential. Like it did exist but in a form of potential. And that's a that's a very that's almost a very scholarly part of psychoanalytic theory is this idea of potential. Like you're just trying to exhibit, you are trying to show you're trying to let the person that is in the room with you know that there is this potential and sometimes it's like just a little bit and you pointed out and, and then it becomes, then the window opens a little bit wider and a little bit wider and, and also in the air is coming in and things are moving and there's a deeper understanding, potential is really underestimated.

Oh, is it ever? I mean, I'm actually going to be talking about this much deeper in my upcoming Mystery Mentorship Module. It's, we're entering into the wood and metal module which is almost exclusively devoted to ancient Chinese esoterica and this is yin, yang is the potential, yin is the need that has not yet been identified which you referenced early on and yang is being able to see her and seeing her need and he manifests it. Like it's, it's really romantic when you think about it. And so these two forms, these two energies, the yin and the yang, they're always in this dance and so you never actually get to see her, you never, because by the time you see her, she's actually more often become him, but it's just so beautiful and yeah, for me, like it's, she's, she's the longing that hasn't even realized that she's longing and he sees the longing and then he calls her gently to come out of the shadows that's so beautiful, that hit, that hit me when I, that's how I feel about Gabriel Garcia Marquez that you're talking and I'm like, oh, that's Love in the Time of Cholera, totally.

It's so, it actually, it is a lot like him and I can actually think of a few other writers where I have that same feeling of that longing or like, I'm like, oh my gosh, I can't believe like, like this book is coming to an end and then I deliberately stopped reading the book for a while because I can't, I can't say goodbye, I'm not ready to say bye yet.
Oh, that's so funny. That's true for me to, I will just stop because I don't want it to end and I'm very fond of anticipation. I know me too. It took me a long time. Like I feel like sometimes in childhood that's shut down a little bit because kids are always so excited about it. About everything like holidays, birthdays, vacation, going to the beach, taking the dog out for a walk. Like it's like you're just ripe with anticipation. And so I didn't really examine it much until I became a parent myself and started to see it. And I thought, oh my gosh, my favorite part about before a birthday or before a holiday or before a vacation is like the week before, totally.

Okay, so my friend, I don't know how how common this is, but she had told me my friend, I'll just give her a shadow is my friend Valerie. She's french and she said there's a french expression. I don't know, it's true that the best part of an affair is walking up to the bedroom. That's well, yeah, I think anticipation is really is also part of longing. It's that like it's almost like before I decided to pick that book up again, right? Like it's thinking about when I'm, when am I going to read Love in the Time of Cholera again? When am I going to sit down? I can't remember the first thing but it's something about an almond tree or the first line in a paragraph in the book and that just like feeling that. But it's the moment before. It's like, like, like going up to the bedroom, like picking up the book or not wanting things to end. It's that that's really interesting.
There's a lot, there's a lot of things in psychology, emotion, human behavior that I see almost as that kitchen door in a restaurant that swings both ways and there's things on either side.

So love and grief would be one right? And the door swings so fast, it blurs. There's no line, there's no boundary there. And I wonder if anticipation and longing is, is similar kind of really like almost right up next to each other in the spectrum. I'm excited by that. I want to know more about that.
Same. And I love that metaphor of the Yeah, that kitchen door, It's so true. What a great conversation. It's been very, very delicious. Thank you, Mimi Young, thank you so much for being here.
Thank you for having me.
This has been Joy is Now with me Lisa Anderson Shaffer LMFT. You can find me for hire at Lisa Anderson Shaffer dot com along with patronage support for this podcast and these three things project. You can also follow along with my musings at lisa Anderson Shaffer on instagram for more places to find all the brilliance that is Mimi Young head to shop Ceremonie dot com and check the notes for this episode.

See you next time.

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