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.
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.”
Welcome to Week Nine of Exploring Intention!
If you’re new to this series, feel free to check out the first nine posts in the “Exploring Intention” series.
Welcome to Week Nine of Exploring Intention!
Nine weeks ago I began a regular practice of setting an intention every day and observing the effects that it had on my life. I also began paying attention to the process of setting intentions, and what “sparked” and what didn’t.
Throughout this series, I have stuck to a formula when writing these posts on intention. This week I am stepping out of the box a little. I’ve had a lot of different experiences and “a-ha!” moments throughout these last few weeks, and I feel like I should start putting the different pieces of the “intention” puzzle together, so that I can approach the final weeks as less of a novice explorer and more of an experienced adventurer.
Start at the Beginning…
I know I have written this a zillion times, but I still believe that setting an intention is the same as using the GPS in your car. And I still believe that each of us comes equipped with our own “inner sense of intention”- and in order to make progress on any goal, all we need to do is engage with that “inner sense of intention”.
But I’ve come to realize it’s not as simple as just stating an intention and walking away. There’s a little bit of a process that goes with it, a process that involves some give and some take. And a whole lot of honesty.
To start with, you’ve got to be brutally honest about your starting point. Just like with the GPS in your car, you have to know where you are starting from to get accurate directions to your destination.
As I have said before, there’s a big distinction between *honesty* and *specificity*. You may not know the exact place you are at, mentally and emotionally, when it comes to certain goals, but you have to tell the truth about what’s going on inside you no matter how flummoxed you might be.
For instance, there have been several “Bliss Habits” that have stumped me these past nine weeks. I just didn’t know how I felt about them or how I felt they were represented in my life. And that was fine.
I figured out that the best way to work with “not knowing” where you stand on an issue is to start out by creating a personal definition of that issue.
For instance- where do I stand on this week’s Bliss Habit of romance? I have to admit, it puzzled me at first. I’m happily married and the word “romance” always brings to mind the idea of long stem roses and velvet boxes of waxy chocolate and The Bachelor. I’m just not a hugely romantic and sentimental person. In fact, just thinking about the word “romance” makes me feel like I’m not being genuine. I spent a long time *trying* to be a romantic person, but then a few years ago I realized it just made me feel awkward. I finally embraced the fact that I appreciate a version of romance that is a lot simpler and less-dramatic than the cultural definition (read: I’d much prefer hanging out in our pajamas and watching a movie than a formal date at an exclusive candlelit restaurant).
But the more I pondered “romance”, the more I realized that it was directly connected to a *really* important goal I have had for a few months now. And that goal is to fall madly and deeply in love with life. I want it to be a fulfilling and long-term relationship. I want to be smitten with life. I want to be enchanted and knocked off my feet in woozy happiness.
For months I have sat on this idea, gone over it in my mind and heart, and not known how to proceed. So this week, with the Bliss Habit of romance, I went back to focusing on that.
After I clarified what “romance” meant to me, and how it could make sense with my specific goals, I invested some time into thinking about whether or not I’m in love with life, what that would really mean for me, and if I’m truly invested in the idea of doing what it would take to get to that feeling. This part of the intention is process is like when you get into car and check how much gas you have, take notice of the time, and assess your energy levels. After you take stock of those things, you can really figure out if you’re up for a super long drive or just have what it takes to get to the corner 7-11 for a quick fix of a Slurpee.
My conclusion: I feel pretty committed to this idea of “falling in love with life”. I’m feeing up for a *bit* of a challenge, but nothing too strenuous or “out of the box” right this moment (being completely honest here). I’d honestly like to be more aware of the good things that are in my current life, and I’d also like to learn how to focus my energy and attention on small steps I can make towards some improving my daily life (better sleep habits, and less time stressing and waffling, more time creating, etc). These are all the things that define my “starting point” with my intention for romance.
The next step is to take the time to articulate the intention, which is basically the same as punching in your destination into a GPS. The key with this step is to figure out how specific you want to be. For me, I don’t have a specific goal in mind- I don’t know exactly what it will take for me to fall in love with life. But there have been other goals that I was able to get VERY specific about- I knew exactly where I wanted to go with them. So, again, this step of “articulating an intention” is completely up to you.
But here’s an honest caution- if you know the details of your goal, but are too afraid of admitting them to yourself (much less others), your “inner sense of intention” will STILL want to take you in that direction. For instance, if you are lawyer and you’ve always dreamed of being a dancer and have regretted that decision for the last twenty years of your life your “inner sense of intention” is going to pick up on that and still pull you in that direction. There’s an opportunity here to make peace with those situations (I’ll talk more about this in the coming weeks- I had to “make peace” with a really big dream of my own during this process and I know it’s not easy, but it’s *so* worth it.)
Also, don’t bullshit the “inner sense of intention” (excuse my language). If you set an intention that is not meaningful or important to you, you’ll not only make big strides in that direction, but you’ll have to do some serious backtracking when you get real about what you really want. It’s like driving towards Walmart when you really want to go to the Target on the other side of the town. Don’t waste your time, your energy, your focus.
I have discovered that the key to every step of intention is truth. The more honest you are with every part of this process, the sooner you’ll get to the right destination. Specificity is never required, but honesty always is.
The beauty of intention is that it’s a process that helps you discover the truth, helps you discover exactly what you want and what’s working and what’s not working. It’s a process of evaluation for life and the heart and the soul. It’s a rare opportunity to investigate the here and now.
And then after you set your intention, after you enter your desired destination into your “inner sense of intention”, you wait. Just like with the GPS in your car, you punch in your desired location and then you wait for it to come back with the directions. If you start driving before it starts issuing instructions, it will just announce loudly that it’s “recalculating” over and over again.
Instead of trying to puzzle it out, let it go. Let it be. Sit quietly for a while and just see what comes back.
For me, this step usually takes a while. At first I was trying to rush the process, and fill in that gap of silence with ideas and information of my own. But as time has passed, I’ve gotten used to the silence that comes after I set an intention. I focus on something else for a while and enjoy the little block of time where I’ve put my intentions out there (or “in there”, as the case may be) and I can just go on with other things.
However, this week, the information came fast, quick, and to-the-point. The MOMENT I set my intention to “fall in love with life”, and defined the boundaries of that intention, I got this response: Slow Down. Stop Doing. Pay Attention.
At first I didn’t connect with all of that. How does “slowing down” and “stopping” make any sense when I’m trying to move toward a new state of mind? Shouldn’t I be doing something, engaging in something, changing things, getting up earlier, drinking more tea, spending more time engaging in creative pursuits?
But I realized that my “inner sense of intention”, my internal GPS, was telling me that with this specific intention, instead of barreling in a forward motion, I needed to backtrack. I needed to turn the car in the other direction and slow down a bit. I needed to pay attention to the scenery and not the destination.
So I’ve been thinking about it a lot. And it’s all true. When you fall in love with someone, the only way that it will be a successful relationship is if you fall in love with that person’s *true* self, not the person you want her or she to be. It’s the same with life.
If I am going to start a fulfilling and engaging romance with my own life, I better start spending less time trying to move towards some preconceived notion of “ideal circumstances” and start spending more time noticing and appreciating all the beautiful parts of life that already exist.
And I’ll be honest- I know this. I know this from my gratitude practice. But it didn’t hurt to be reminded, especially now, with the crazy holiday season propelling me into a bit of a frantic and stressed state of mind.
I think we could *all* stand to do more of this right now- and I invite you to join me this week and slow down. Stop doing. Pay attention. *Find* the beauty and joy and romance in the every day. If there isn’t any, I challenge you to begin creating some for yourself. Do something kind and indulgent in any way you can, from treating yourself to a massage to taking three minutes to step out of your office or kitchen and really *enjoy* your cup of coffee. WHATEVER you can do to make this moment better and more enjoyable, *that’s* what you should to be doing, that’s the direction you should be headed.
Let’s all set an intention to fall in love with life.