When we put the light of intention on something
reality starts unfolding itself from it.
It is my intention for this article to first unpack what intention actually means. Then get closer to understanding how we can discover what our deepest intention is.
Intention, in action.
The only time I wear jewelry is when I’m on a very specific mission. When I have a goal in mind that I don’t want to be distracted from. As I write this for instance, I’m wearing a heavy wooden mala that was gifted to me by ‘Bali momma’ during travels in Indonesia. The unfamiliar weight on my neck and tickle on my chest acts as a reminder of why I put it there in the first place. It’s a trigger to refocus my attention on the intended task of writing. Embedding a specific meaning in an object can be quite powerful when used intentionally.
Intention itself is a virtuous cycle.
When we set an intention, actions that bring us closer to that intention are energizing. That energy helps motivate more actions that will further to bring the intention to fruition. Meaning the more my wooden mala helps me write, the more I want to find more ways that intentions can help energize me through life.
Hold up, what does intention even mean?
Buddist tradition often says, “this entire world arises out of the tip of intention.”
That’s a bit more profound that my petty mala example. So it’s apparent there are different levels in which it affects us. Other examples could be making money, being funny, eating less chocolate, etc. This talk from Tara Brach clarifies how to practice bringing awareness to our current intention, recognizing it’s characteristics and act accordingly to uncover the power of our true aspiration. To summarize, an intention can be separated into two core categories:
1. An Egoic Intention
This type of intention satisfies our wants and fears. I notice thoughts and actions stemming from this egoic state when I’m unthoughtfully reactive to life’s surprises. When I’m trying to not lose what I have and usually pursuing more of a selfish goal like acquiring money, seeking approval, or disregarding a friend to finish a task. I just did it as I didn’t acknowledge a friend that walked by as I wrote that last sentence. But hey, I’m that much closer to getting these thoughts out of my head so perhaps egoic intention has its place ;)
In contrast, there is another type of intention that in my opinion leads to more truth and freedom:
2. A Liberating Intention
Ever been helpful to a loved one, gotten involved with a creative project, or simply enjoyed spending time in nature? Then you’ve experienced a flavor of this liberating intention.
It is when we are led by liberating intentions that we are opened to our full potential and deepest aspiration. When we set a liberating intention we begin to love without holding back. To be vulnerable to show others your true self and to see the truth in others.
As I look to people and heroes I’ve grown to trust to be authentic, kind and full of great integrity, I’ve noticed commonalities of this liberating intention. Here’s a few you might know as well as their clearly defined intention:
- Jesus – to restore life.
- Buddha – to enlighten all beings.
- Gandhi – to renounce and enjoy.
- Dali Lama – to alleviate suffering.
- Mother Teresa – to spread kindness and compassion.
- William Wallace – freeeeeeeeedom!
Reflect on a day’s events, I’m concerned to find much of it was directed by egoic intentions based on fears or selfish wants. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s related to the amount of stress felt at the end of the day. How then, can one change the navigational direction to be guided by less of this egoic intention and more of the liberating intention?
Listening to your deepest liberating intention.
We all need a way for setting our direction, for instilling an intention. You wouldn’t be here unless you have these deep currents of liberating intention. Just as you get involved with a project, or spend time in nature, or share yourself with a loved one. The truth is if we look at our day, we lose focus and fall into a trance of sorts reacting to the day’s events. We get caught in currents driven by want and fear and become more stressed by losing the grip of our own awareness.
The first step to realizing our truest intentions is getting in the habit of thinking about it in the first place. When we put the light of intention on something, reality starts unfolding itself. By noticing what’s driving you, you can begin to take the wheel and steer towards what really matters.
Personally, I’ll often see emotions arise from the need to feel more secure, sooth myself, prove myself, distract myself. It is only when I take the time to put a light on those emotions, and the intention behind them, that reality started to unfold itself. By reality, I’m referring to unlearning and understanding who I am at my core. The essence of me that can love without holding back. That is why my deepest aspiration is a liberating intention.
Life emerges out of the tip of intention.
What’s your intention?