2 Simple Steps Toward Conscious Intention
One essential element of meaningful living is that of how you use the power of conscious intention.
Each one of us develops our own patterns of day to day, year-to-year living; these patterns are essentially habitual ways of seeing and relating to the world. For example:
- You take the same route to work every day without really thinking about it.
- You dress with whatever is clean and available that day with little thought.
- You brush our teeth before bed, perhaps even floss every day, because that’s what you’ve always done.
A certain amount of habitual patterns is healthy and adaptive way to operate in the world. But it is also easy for these ways of interacting in the world to become stale, automatic…in a sense thought-less ways of living.
Dressing without much forethought is a different experience that thinking intentionally about how you want to present to the world for that day or occasion. Brushing and flossing are great habits, but brushing and flossing because you always have feels very different from brushing and flossing as an act of caring and love to your body.
And while driving to work on the same route might be useful, relating to relationship partners or your children in an automated way is similarly disconnected in impact.
?It takes us away from the moment that is unfolding; the thought-less experience allows you to “be here” and yet not be present.
To shift out of habitual patterns of living and re-engage in your life experience from the driver’s seat–Here’s how you can do it:
1. Simply press pause for a moment.
Think not only about what you are presently doing, but consider what you intention is in that moment. See if you can name your intention that is paired with your behaviour.
For example, in a conflict situation, you may notice your behaviour is attacking or perhaps defensive—the intention is to hurt the other or protect yourself by pushing the other away emotionally. Is this what you want?
At first, when examining intention, some people find that their intention is simply “to get what I want” or “to be right”, but in most cases these intentions are short lived in their satisfaction even if they are attained, because they are only wanting for the self.
When we can consider intention from a perspective that includes more than the self, your entire perspective of options and ways of relating to others becomes transformed.
For example, you may move from an intention of “being right” to “being heard and understood”.
In conversation then, you could ask yourself:
- “how can I communicate what is important in a way that gives it the best chance of really being heard by my partner?”
- “what kind of relationship am I wanting to build together with this person, even as we stand in difference on this issue?”.
New possibilities arise from this perspective that remain invisible when we are locked in an exclusively self-focused intention.
2. Use intention is as part of a preparation to enter into an activity.
Whether it’s a conversation, business meeting, or even time with the kids, consciously pause and name an intention to yourself prior to “going in”.
It can be useful to think of it in terms of a short phrase or even a single key word to remind yourself of your intention as a conversation unfolds phrase by phrase.
Examples of intention words you can experiment with include:
- “speak up”
- “make room for the other person in this conversation”,
See if you can think about some of your own intentions you would like to bring in to your day to day life, pick one for a day, and look for opportunities to live by this intention.
You might be surprised by how many moments of opportunity there are to do so.