Indulgence is Your Guru: Write to Free the Animal

We are all much more alike than we realize.

We have the same basic range of human experience, we have the same kinds of wants and fears. Yes, everyone has a different spectrum where they spend their energy and time, but we are all equally capable of the same feelings and emotions. We want and worry about the same types of things. The fact that you believe your wants and fears are different is also something we have in common.

In this mix of human wants and fears, we also have an animal side, a more primal and vital aspect of our psyche. Our animal side is our link to wildness.

I don’t know about you, but most of the time, I don’t know what the hell to do with it.

People live lies of decency and good conduct, hoping their animal side goes unseen. I would argue that we all suppress, repress, and compartmentalize our appetites for things that are very politically incorrect.

This creates a dynamic not so different from the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. My take on that story is not that the guy is evil in a way that anyone else is incapable of becoming, but that he’s not in touch with his passions, and they come out in distorted ways. He lives half his life in one lie and the other half in another lie. It’s an extreme case, but it paints a clear picture: own your passions or else they own you.

Strategies for being fueled by the animal

– Make a mess. Part of you really loves to.

The animal side is more in touch with the interplay between cosmic oppositions – yin and yang, masculine and feminine, imagination and consciousness.

It’s senseless to insist that ideas and thoughts should arrive neatly packaged for us. The way to meet with greatness is to step towards the immensity of our own desire.

Freewriting is all about being equanimous. [bctt tweet=”Make a mess. Write things that don’t go anywhere. Delight in it.”]

– Feel the animal, don’t judge it.

It’s there. Don’t deny it.

So many of the words for what are actually rich feelings are given names with such judgmental gravity:

indulge slake seduce lust sex fuck power filthy wealth conquer control rage devour grief sloth vanity hunger

I read back through that little list and I think to myself: dang, there are some rich velvety good feelings there. There is a lot of vitality in those words.

Just because society has rules for conduct doesn’t mean we should internalize those rules. If we do, then we tyrannize the animal inside. We tend to agree that it’s not OK to express lust while at work. At work, people are supposed to act chipper and be productive. But that work facade is not the sum total expression of a person’s being. Beneath the polished professional outer layer, the animal drive lives within you. For your own health and sanity, it needs have ways to flow freely.

When it gets locked up, we get blocked up. The trapped inner animal can’t help but express itself in distorted ways. We find that we are jealous of the success of others and judgmental of our own cravings and inmost drives.

When we move towards being in touch with our inner animal, we stand rooted in our own vitality and satisfaction. People who are able to embrace and indulge their animal side have a much easier time entering and staying in a flow state. It is as if the wild powers of the imagination feel matched by them.

Someone with a liberated animal drive is infinitely more attractive.

– Indulgence means really letting yourself go there.

Unchain the beast! Your appetites fuel you tremendously if you stop judging them and step the fuck out of the way. Unless you allow yourself to be fueled by your indulgences, you can’t get what you want from your writing.

Indulgences are inspirations and drives that are lumped into a category of “dangerous.” They are dangerous. This is the part of you that could get in deep trouble. Maybe it already has, and maybe you have learned your lesson. Certainly as a kid this had to have come up for you. I know it did for me. Probably from your parents or at school. And you grew up believing the animal side of you was wrong.

That animal vitality is locked away in your past, and it’s not able to fuel you because you won’t get out of the way and love yourself as you are.

Do you judge other people negatively when their animal side gets what it wants?

Does some part of you feel triggered to hear that it is OK to be a ruthless hungry animal?

– Invite the totality of consciousness and imagination into your writing process.

In terms of yin and yang, or feminine and masculine, the imagination can be seen as the feminine domain and consciousness the masculine domain. Consciousness is merely the tip of the iceberg of the totality of our experience.

In the world, the well-ordered neat and clean masculine gets overprioritized. In the workplace, we like structure and discipline. Our polished professional facade doesn’t know what the hell to do with the actual wild forces of life.

Social and professional conditioning creates bad habits when we try to apply it to our creative writing.

Like the ocean, the native state of the feminine is to flow with great power and no single direction. The masculine builds canals, dams, and boats to unite with the power of the feminine ocean and go from point A to point B. But the feminine moves in many directions at once. The masculine chooses a single goal and moves in that direction. Like a ship cutting through a vast ocean, the masculine decides on a course and navigates the direction: the feminine energy itself is undirected but immense, like the wind and deep currents of the ocean, ever changing, beautiful, destructive, and the source of life.

David Deida, The Way of the Superior Man

Freewriting invites oceanic force into your word processor. It is wild and untameable. The idea is not to tame it. It would be foolish to think that a person can simply stand in front of the ocean of ideas and direct it all in neat and tidy lines on the page. The goal of being able to write clearly should never come at the expense of short-changing your relationship with the depth and immensity of the imagination.

This feminine side of our nature blooms and thrives on our loving attention, our compliments and affection, our indulgence.

Ultimately we pick and choose the words we want to use. Those words will keep their sense of vitality and impact as long as we have no doubt as to where they come from: the chaotic yin immensity of the imagination.

– Blurt it out.

Use the kind of language that indulges you. Language that overflows its container and nourishes the part of you that loves to see things go deliciously wrong, get ruined, blow up, implode, gush, erode.

– Get out of your own way.

If there is a part of you that really loves to write, then give that part the reins. See what happens.

A question like “What’s the worst that can happen?” will pique the interest of your animal.

– Don’t overthink it. Feel it.

Your judgment is holding your passions hostage, keeping them in compartments. When you freewrite, let them loose.

If you’re not getting satisfaction from your writing, you’re doing it wrong.

Wildness is not a sin. Indulgence is rocket fuel.

Correct thinking and a neat and orderly workspace are not going to get you to write your best work. Your best writing manifests from turning your animal toward what you truly and uniquely crave.

– It’s in you.

Although external experiences and other people often indulge our animal side, the truth is that the real wild force is within you.

You may make the same mistake I have often made, believing that the source of your satisfaction is outside you, in some achievement or another person. It’s not them. It’s you. The way they light you up and inspire you? That’s in you. The way you feel full of life? That is your feeling, and it does not depend on anyone else.

That feeling is yours to own.

I fell in love. I fell in love again. I got married, I fell in love again. And again. Each relationship was unique. Each was special. But how would things have been if I had known in my inmost being that what the other person arose in me was my own right, not something I depended on them to feel?

I was mistaken as to where to rest my awareness. In feeling fulfilled, I rested my sense of identity on the relationship. A subtle shift can make all the difference: Yeah, great relationship, but who am I? What part of my being comes forward?

– Use your body.

Words are not physical, but you are. Indulge your physical body. In between writing sessions, take breaks that are physically stimulating. Interact with people. Touch and be touched. Breathe fresh air. Run in the wilderness in the moonlight. Take a preposterously extravagant bath.

– Write about what you love.

Make it your primary focus. Circle around what you love and hunt it down. Make it yours. Find what this quest awakens and touches in you.

– Sneak in something forbidden.

…something dirty. Maybe you’re writing about something dull. See what happens when you use language that makes you squirm, makes you get all hot and bothered.

– Take a detour in your freewrite to list your indulgences.

Swim in the delicious nectar of your indulgences, things that pleasure you. Maybe there are even things you can indulge in while you write.

If what you come up with would distract you from your writing, then give yourself honest time to indulge those things. Otherwise, you might find yourself sneaking things in throughout your day or whenever. Do one thing wholeheartedly, then do another thing with gusto.

Don’t waste your life living in half measures.

You like what you like. Don’t judge it.

Maybe it’s simple, banal, not charged enough to think you can enjoy it. The other day I found myself trying to sneak in a few minutes to shop for the best spark plugs I could get for my truck. I don’t find spark plugs that interesting, but I became compelled by that quest. So I let myself do it, and then it was done. It’s not important to me anymore. It doesn’t hold sway anymore. Sometimes the things I want are intense and charged, and sometimes they are pretty tame.

– Throw a curve ball for yourself.

As you freewrite, invite ideas that don’t fit in and leave you in a state of no-mind.


Be present for what arrives when you give yourself what you want. Maybe it’s pleasurable. Maybe it’s cathartic. As with everything else, let it be there and move through you.

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