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.
“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”
– Joseph Campbell
Welcome to Week Eight of Exploring Intention!
If you’re new to this series, feel free to check out the first seven posts in the “Exploring Intention” series.
But here’s a bit of backstory:
Two months ago I began to explore the idea of “intention”. Intention has become increasingly popular these past few years, and is often suggested as an essential tool for well-being. I wanted to figure out if a regular “intention” practice would have any impact on my life (positive or negative) and if it was something I wanted to continue to explore in the future.
I have to be honest, I have learned a lot more in these past eight weeks than I anticipated. When I started this, my opinion on intention was that it was a pop-psychology/new-age trend and I wasn’t entirely sure there was much to it. But after actually spending some time with it, and giving it a fair shake in daily life, I realize there’s a whole lot more to it than I expected.
Intention: A Internal Community
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.
As I’ve been setting daily intentions, and paying attention to the process, I’ve discovered that there *is* a little “magic” involved with intention. But that magic is really about what happens when we pay very close attention to all the aspects of our day-to-day lives and when we truly invest time and emotion into thinking about where we want to go and what we want to focus on.
For instance- when I allow myself the time to sit and really give some genuine thought to where I am in my life, what I want to accomplish, and what I *need* to live a happy, healthy, and joyful life, that dialogue with myself opens up something deep inside me. It’s almost as if the process of setting intentions clears out space for new things, new possibilities.
One new discovery this week was the importance of both patience and stillness after an intention is set. I know I have discussed this a little bit before, but this week it became apparent how crucial “letting it be” is to my process of intention. I have to set an intention and then, basically, let it go. That involves a fair bit of trust, and that’s not always easy for me, but I am working on it.
For the first few weeks after I started this project, I was holding the intentions in my head all day, constantly reflecting on them and thinking about them and looking around the world for any and every opportunity to “make good” on my list. However, in the past few weeks I have been testing out what happens when I just set an intention and sort of sent it out there without fussing over it.
Don’t get me wrong- I hold onto the intention in my heart and mind, but I don’t work as hard trying to make things happen. And I have found that I get better responses to all my questions and intentions if I am a little more patient with the process.
A better way of explaining this might be going back to that old GPS analogy I keep making. For instance, if I got in my car and typed a destination into my GPS and then sat there and TALKED AT the GPS about my destination *while* it was calibrating, it would not only be a waste of time (the GPS doesn’t have ears, after all), but there’s a good possibility that my chattering might drown out any directions the GPS would eventually start to give me. The right way to approach it would be to to input my location and let the GPS do its thing and wait patiently for it to give me some instructions. I could start driving or trying to figure out my own way about getting to where I want to go, but what’s the point? If I am patient enough, the GPS will eventually pipe up and tell me the first step to take.
It’s the same way with my “inner sense of intention”- that little group consisting of my intuition and heart and soul and my practical side – I just need to wait and see what it has to say. By not immediately acting on all the ideas that pop into my head, all the “should”s and “could”s and anxieties that come up, I am suddenly able to make decisions from a more authentic place.
And, lately, one phrase that has been popping up as a response via my “inner sense of intention” has been: “I don’t know…”
I have to admit, when this started happening, I was not a happy girl. Not having an instant and definite opinion on EVERYTHING, especially the really important things in life, the things I feel deeply about, scares me. A lot. The idea of saying “I just don’t know….” to so many things was NOT okay at first- as someone who likes to consider herself a responsible and organized person (read: control freak) being so unsure of so many things terrified me. “I don’t know” was not part of my vocabulary before I started this project.
But now it’s getting a little bit more comfortable for me to be in this state of flexibility so often. It just means there’s possibility, space for new things and joy where there wasn’t before.
And that’s where community comes into play.
“Community” is a tricky topic for me. Just last year I discovered that I was a true introvert- not the Ted Kaczynski/Unabomber kind of introvert, but more of the “can handle herself very well in social situations but just does fine on her own and often needs time to recharge” variety. I have to admit, that discovery was LIFE-CHANGING to me because it suddenly explained why I looked at social situations as energy-draining obligations rather than opportunities for fellowship with others. (I’ll talk more about being an introvert in our next cycle of Bliss Habits…)
Anyway, I view community as something that’s still a work in progress for me. I’m redefining what “community” means and how I can engage with others without sacrificing my personal comfort and draining my energy. This is all new territory, and with it comes a whole lot of “I don’t know…” responses.
And as I tap into my “inner sense of intention”, and consider all the aspects of community, ideas and directives are slowly emerging. Maybe not as fast as I would like, but I’m working on patience.
As I’ve said before, setting an intention is just like punching in a destination into your GPS: you need to be brutally honest about not only where you are starting from, but also where you really want to go. If you are dishonest about either of these things, your GPS (either the one in your vehicle or the one inside you) just won’t work. So as I sit and think about community, I realize that I am in a place of “I don’t know…”- that’s where I am starting from and that’s my destination.
How nebulous is that? But it’s *okay*. The important thing is that by looking closer at the idea of community, I am opening myself up to it and starting a dialogue with myself about it. Through this process of setting an intention to explore the idea of community, it becomes less of an abstract thing that scares me and more of a possibility I am open to.
So no matter where you stand with community, or any other intention you set, remember “I don’t know” is as good a destination as any- it means that your “inner sense of intention” is calibrating. It means that you are puzzling things out. It means you are taking things slowly. It means you are being thoughtful. It means there are now possibilities where before there were only abstract ideas.
The important thing is that you have embarked. Setting is an intention is that big first step on your journey.