The Power of Intention
Mar 8th, 2019
Chances are you’ve heard about the power of intention, whether you believe in it or not. It might have been couched in other terms like “ask and it shall be given to you” or written in books like The Secret, but the concept is simple. Decide what you want. Ask for it. Watch it materialize.
Is visualization the same thing? Let’s think about this for a moment. Take athletes for example. I’ve listened to many interviews and read many athlete biographies (my all time fav must be Open by Andre Agassi!) that recount the power of visualizing the prize. Whether it’s Shaun White winning Olympic gold or Alex Honnold free soloing Yosemite’s El Capitan, they all talk about mentally rehearsing on a daily basis with the same discipline they bring to their workouts. There must be something to this. The consistent image in our minds of the outcome we want to achieve.
So what happens when we don’t intentionally set an intention? Bear with me. This is going somewhere. Let me provide some background. Yesterday was my dad’s deathiversary. I’m not sure that’s a word, but I just made it up. You know what I mean. It was one year ago yesterday that my dad died. Lying in yesterday morning, in that moment before full wakefulness – you know what I mean, when you’re caught between dreaming and you can feel it fading away, before you’re fully awake – I had a something. A thought I guess, but it felt more like a feeling. I knew it was the day and I had a feeling that I wanted to do a Metta meditation on my father.
That was all. It was a very powerful feeling, almost like an urge, that I must. For those of you who aren’t meditators or don’t know what Metta is, it’s lovingkindness meditation. In essence, you call someone to mind (you don’t have to love them; in fact, it may be someone that irritates the crap out of you) and you wish them to be loved, wish them to be free from suffering and wish them peace. There’s a lot more to it than that, but that’s the gist of it. (If you want to scratch the Metta meditation itch, visit either Sharon Salzberg or Tara Brach sites for free guided lovingkindness meditations and teachings. Sharon Salzberg’s Metta Hour podcast is great too! I could go on and on, but I’ll save that for another time!)
Anyway, so I wake up with this sense that I need to do a lovingkindness meditation with my father in mind. The thing is, I’m in the middle of a streak with the Waking Up With Sam Harris meditation app. I was on day 19 yesterday and my neurotic self wasn’t going to let me deviate. The thing is, up until day 19, every single day was Vipassana, a form of meditation you’re probably familiar with – mindfulness meditation. It’s very popular right now and it’s the one we use in yoga when we focus on our breath. I just figured I’d do Metta later in the day. No big deal. Stick to my routine and meditate with my app in the morning. Lovingkindness can come later in the day.
So there I am, sitting in my den on a throw pillow. No fancy meditation pillow for me, although I really should knit myself one! I have no idea when, during the usual Vipassana meditation, Sam says, “and now I’m going to walk you through a different type of meditation called Metta”!!!! No joke! True story! And he goes on to walk us through lovingkindness and as I bring my father to mind, I feel this almost physical sense of love wash over me, like I’m standing under a waterfall, and tears are running down my face and I’m smiling. I feel my smile and I feel my dad there with me and I have this sense of peace and love flowing in and out. It was really profound and absolutely beautiful!
How am I supposed to explain that?! I hadn’t set the intention every day since I started meditating with the app randomly 19 days before the deathiversary. There was no intention at all! The day I started was random and the likelihood of me sticking to it every day – 50/50 odds I’d guess. What the heck?!
This changed my thinking. I used to see intention as a lot of work, that you have to do it every day in order for it to work. Now I see that there is another way. Now I’m open to the possibility that intention doesn’t necessarily have to be a daily, consistent thing. If it’s powerful enough, maybe it can be a one time thing. Now I wouldn’t go so far as to say I can set an intention while lying in bed that I am going to win the lottery today or something as random as that, but I do think intention is far more powerful and less rigid and particular than we’ve been made to believe.
I came out of that meditation in a sense of awe and wonder. Are you flipping kidding me?! Did that really just happen? Now some of you might be thinking, “What’s the big deal? You didn’t do anything. It was going to happen whether you set your intention that morning or not.” True. For you. Not for me and that’s okay. I don’t expect you to see it my way. You’re not me. Totally cool. This blog is about sharing how I see the world. You don’t have to agree. In fact, I welcome divergent views. It keeps things interesting.
But if you are someone on the same wavelength, I know examples probably popped into your head. Times in your life when you desperately needed a break and you got it or right after you thought of someone, they called. Call it synchronicity. Call it the power of the subconscious mind. The Secret. The label doesn’t matter. What matters to me is that there’s a power far greater than us. Some of you know that it’s God. Others believe it to be a universal consciousness, higher power, whatevs. The thing is, it’s real and it’s out there, freely available to anyone who taps in. With purpose. You have to feel it, want it, believe it strongly. It can’t be optional. I don’t think it works that way. It has to be an absolute must.
That’s not to say it must only be serious, big things. It can be something we want, like I don’t know, a 44’ Sea Ray or an A frame cottage on Georgian Bay (just sayin’!). We create the must. We get really clear on the picture. That’s what those life dream and vision boards are all about. We write it down as a goal and put it on stickies around our house. We set a date to it. We see it in our minds in colour and guess what? Maybe not that morning, like my example, but eventually – that intention becomes reality. And it starts happening so consistently, not necessarily quickly, but consistently – that you become a believer. You see the power of intention and pretty soon you’re lying in bed feeling like you want to do a lovingkindness meditation in memory of your father…and you know the rest!
I’m still waiting for my A frame and Sea Ray, but they’re on their way as long as they remain an intention. And yes, I’d like both please! The universe doesn’t make us set limits or be pragmatic or responsible or judge us for what we want. It doesn’t have the capacity for bias. It doesn’t tell us what we should ask for either. It just responds to intention. It’s like magic. It really is! So go ahead. Dream big, but don’t stop there. Set your intention or a bunch of them if you want. The only rule is that you must want it. That’s it!
Does this resonate with anyone? Please share a comment on how the power of intention has come to life for you. I’d love to hear your stories!