Exploring Intention: A Closer Look at Inquiry

Welcome to Tuesdays with Chel.

Each week Chel Micheline of Gingerblue will offer her perspectives on our Bliss Habits. Please enjoy the wisdom and clarity she offers.

“…I would like to beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
-Rainer Maria Rilke

Welcome to Week Seven of Exploring Intention!

If you’re new to this series, feel free to check out the first five posts in the “Exploring Intention” series.

But here’s a bit of backstory:

Seven weeks ago I began exploring the idea of intention. Every single day since I started this project, I’ve been setting daily intentions and paying very close attention to the results. What’s actually fascinated me the most has been the ways in which the act of setting an intention engages my mind, my heart, and my intuition.

This week is all about “inquiry” here on Bliss Habits. Usually I try and set intentions for the topic of the week- for instance, last week was about serenity so I focused my intentions on serenity and ways to find more of it . But this week I want to talk a little bit about how intention is an inquiry in itself, and how important it is to “live the questions”, as Rainer Maria Rilke urges in the quote above.

… that quote looks familiar ….

Yes, I know… I’ve used the same Rainer Maria Rilke quote before. But as I was going through this week, thinking about inquiry and intention and how the two are related, I couldn’t stop reflecting on Rilke’s suggestion.

Throughout this series of posts, I’ve been defining intention as a personal GPS system:

Setting an intention in life is exactly the same as when you use the GPS in your car- you punch in your destination and then allow your internal GPS (I call it the “inner sense of intention”) to respond with directions on how to get there. It’s really that simple.

I’ve always understood that it was important to take some time to thoughtfully articulate an intention instead of just throwing something out there and walking away, expecting all sorts of magic to happen. The magic isn’t in the intention itself, it’s in the thoughts *surrounding* the intention- the things that happen before, and during, and after the intention is set.

As I have been thinking about inquiry this week, I realized that the process of *deciding* on an intention is just as important, if not more, than any step in the process. For some, this is simple. And that’s great.

But like I have been saying these past few weeks, I’m in a strange place right now. Through this new intention practice, I discovered some goals I had for myself for a very long time were no longer appealing to me. So I’m sort of in a state of flux at the moment, and setting an intention can get tricky when I’m not exactly sure where I’m heading.

So that’s where questions come in. Usually before I decide on my intention for the day ahead, I take a little bit of time to establish not only where I want the day to go, but where I am starting from. There’s a delicate balance between those two things- some days I just need to come to terms with the fact that I am in no place to achieve all the things I’d like to. While this can be a little bit of a bummer at first, in the long run it pays off because when I finally go to bed that night, I’m not beating myself up for not getting something done.

If I stick with this GPS analogy I keep making, deciding on an intention is like getting in my car and deciding where I’m going to drive to. There are things I have to take into consideration- how much time do I have? How much gas do I have in my tank? Is my car able to fly and/or go underwater?

You see what I’m getting at? There are places I’ll be able to go to in a certain amount of time with a certain amount of gas (like running some errands, going somewhere local but fun, etc.). And there are places I *won’t* be able to go (cross-country trip, Paris, etc.) in my car. And it’s the exact same thing with day-to-day intention- it’s super important to start from a place of honest inquiry.

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. 
– Nido Qubein

The questions I find myself asking most often before I set an intention are basic things:
– How do I feel today?
– What am I hoping to accomplish today?
– What’s my big goal? Is it something specific or is it more along the lines of “I want to experience more joy today”?
– If it’s the latter, what can I do to facilitate that? What decisions can I make *right now* that will make it easier for me to find joy throughout the day?
– What can I reasonably hope to accomplish with the time, energy, and focus I have available to me today?

And then there are some less concrete questions:
– How does asking these questions make me feel?
– What do I *really* need to make my intention a reality?
– What do I really, really want? What do I really, really *need*?

Your questions will probably be different than mine, which is perfect.

My main goal with these questions is just to “check in” and see what’s going on inside. I usually do this in the morning, when it’s quiet and I can sit with my cup of tea and take some time to wake up and feel myself out.

Some days I don’t ask many questions at all, I just feel like diving in. But then some days I feel really kind of fuzzy and not quite comfortable, so I do a little digging to see what’s going on.

And often, when I dig, I find out that maybe I need a day off. Or maybe I need to just sit down and finally finish a lingering project so that I can let go of it. Or maybe I need to cancel something and spend the afternoon experimenting. Or maybe I need to do something spur-of-the moment, and get out of my routine.

Ultimately, I won’t know how I feel, what I need, what’s brewing in my mind and heart until I ask. Asking the questions before I set an intention is a way of opening myself up to the possibilities that the day holds.

As I continue this little project of exploring intention, I’m starting to realize that the process of setting an intention, stating that intention, and then opening myself up for a response from my “inner sense of intention” (sort of my personal, internal GPS- I believe that we all come equipped with one- we just need to take the time to turn it on and engage with it every day) is truly the *heart* of this whole exercise. It’s ultimately the inquiry part of it all that flips the switch that makes things happen.

So this week I encourage you to keep making those intentions, but more importantly, use the “intention habit” as a process of discovery of your true self.

3 thoughts on “Exploring Intention: A Closer Look at Inquiry

  1. Profound and honest as ever, Chel. I love the “intention habit” and the acknowledgement of the ongoing flux of intention. It is something I am practicing deeply right now – the “big picture” (where I’m programming my GPS to take me) versus the momentary steps. Keep going, fellow traveler, and together we will explore these winding roads. 🙂 (p.s. love that quote by Rilke!)

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