We’re five years on from 2012 and the turning over of the world prophesied by so many indigenous tribes. The upheaval continues, with nationalist, fearful, racist, reactive threads around the world. So where do we—those of us yearning to create a more beautiful, sustainable, livable world—stand?
Is human consciousness shifting enough to turn the tides?
Are our individual and collective efforts working?
Frankly, we do not know. Like me, your hope, despair, and sense of possibility probably whirl daily in response to events.
That’s why focusing your intent is so important: it’s what keeps you on your path and fuels your efforts, day by day.
What Is Intent?
Intent includes your energetic attention, passion, spirit, and focus.
Intent comes from your essence rather than your thoughts: your third eye gives you the vision to see the whole. Your heart helps you feel your way into action with love, compassion, and intuition. Your power center in your belly helps you act with integrity. Thus intent arises from your whole being, not just your mind and thoughts. This difference is crucial.
It took me a long time to understand intent. My Peruvian teacher Américo Yábar consistently spoke of the difference between intent and intention, but I was so steeped in the dominant paradigm of using will—deciding to do something and making it happen—that I learned slowly what it meant to ease into something that was important to me.
When I wrote technical books for Silicon Valley companies, the whole team—engineers, product designers, writers, marketers—worked under artificial deadlines defined by someone’s idea of when a product should come to market. We had to produce according to schedule. Now when I write these blogs, my intent is to listen for topics, wisdom, and guidance from the universe as they arise and flow.
An Invisible Force of Energy
Intent does not come from will, with which you try to push through no matter what.
Intent is different from desire, your mind’s idea of what will make you happy, what you want, what you wish for.
Intent is different from affirmations, the practice of positive thinking and repeatedly saying what you want to believe.
Intent is also different from intention, which is action oriented and goal directed in English usage.
True intent includes the whole—your body, mind, heart, and spirit, the light and the heavy, sunlight and shadow. True intent takes into account your weaknesses as well as your strengths, so it doesn’t set you up to fail.
As Wayne Dyer says, intent is not dogged determination but an inner awareness “that exists in the universe as an invisible force of energy.”
Moving with intent sends an energetic vibration into the world. It affects your cells, your fields, and the web of life that surrounds you. It feeds what you are trying to create—whether personally or globally—and affects the cumulative outcome of your choices.
Developing your intent helps you change your perception and experience of the problem you are trying to solve. It is one of what I call the four pillars of perception—those qualities that help you shift your experience of the world into one of connection and open-heartedness. (The other three are alignment, reciprocity, and receptivity).
Using Intent Day by Day: Three Questions
So how can you put this integrated view of intent into action?
Let’s take your concern for the environment as an example. There are like a million things that need to be done right now—addressing global warming; working towards sustainability; protecting land for the future; rebuilding nature awareness; responding to migrations caused by drought around the world; balancing local needs for housing, open space, and commerce. The list goes on.
Applying your intent on a daily basis, it’s useful to be clear in each of your three centers of love, vision, and power (heart, third eye, belly).
This is so you stay true to yourself, don’t get overextended, and can know you are doing what you can.
Here are three questions you can ask yourself about any particular issue:
1. What do I truly care about?
2. What’s my dream/vision of the best possible scenario?
3. What do I have the power and energy to do?
These questions give you space to dream and be practical, to make choices based on the whole of you. There are no wrong answers. Rather, your answers help you learn to rely on your inner authority, not what someone says you should do.
Using the effects of global warming as an example, here’s an example of how I personally address these questions.
- I care deeply about the earth. I do not want the planet’s inhabitants to experience the suffering that will ensue from rising oceans, weather changes, massive migrations, fear, conflict, scarcity, and so on. This love fuels the extra efforts I make.
- My vision is of humans living in a connected, sustainable, vibrant way in collaboration with all other creatures. Dreamy stuff, yes, and I really believe we can create this!
- My sacred power is using the particular skills I have—writing, speaking, synthesizing, working with spirit, leading groups—to effect change. While my power in the physical world (like everyone’s) is constrained by kids, work, money, health, energy levels, and so on, my ability to work in the spiritual, subtle realms is not so constrained.
Knowing all this, I make some choices:
I spend ten minutes a day (what’s feasible for me) weighing in on issues and writing letters. Feels right, good, and is the maximum I can do!
I rarely go to marches (Women’s march excepted) because I can truly use my time better in other ways (remember, no judgment: what’s right for you?)
Being the Chair of a local non-profit (Sonoma Mountain Preservation) and getting pulled into other local preservation issues (standing up for Baylands integrity in the face of water-guzzling developments, for example) takes way more time/energy than I’d like, and I keep doing it because my heart and vision tell me to.
Spiritually, I incorporate intent in all that I do—ceremony, writing, speaking, teaching—so I focus on values like nature reconnection, alignment, and developing your inner authority. This really feeds my heart and vision! Part of my calling is to stand for the Earth and all her creatures; I connect with this to fuel my work on all levels, and to discern what’s better left to others.
In all these ways I rely on my intent to act and be in alignment with my vision, heart, and power. I honor my weaknesses as well as my strengths, avoid feelings of failure and despair, and know I am doing the best I can.
I am curious: Do these three questions help you clarify your intent about your activism? How are you applying them right now?
Exerpted from Weave the Heart of the Universe Into Your Life: Aligning to Cosmic Energy.