ASK ABDI: WHAT IS INTENTION AND HOW BEST TO USE IT?

QUESTION: Intention is one of those buzzwords that seem to be coming up again and again for me lately. Whether encountering the idea of intention in the New Age-y manifestation vein, through my dreams, or simply by recognizing intention when parsing my own or other people's motives behind the words or actions shared in day-to-day life.

I would love to know your take on all of this. In some of the video/audio offerings you have out there in cyberspace, sometimes you do refer to making/setting an intention before a seminar or meditation session. But really how does one phrase a good intention? Are there any pitfalls? Is it better to be specific or general, etc.? Phrasing an intention as an “I want to…” sometimes smacks of selfishness, and should an intention be created solely for the betterment of mankind fostering positive energy in the universe for all beings collectively? Or can it be more personal? I seem to be stuck on doing it right, so as not to contaminate my energy or cloud the goodness that is out there for us to experience every day.

I have been wearing my red boots, put a moratorium on reading/viewing “the news”, and making time to quiet the mind if even for a few minutes a day… So I am feeling more grounded than I probably ever have in my life, however this subject/idea/thought of intention keeps nipping at me and buzzing around in my brain more often than not. This is why I am reaching out to you in this forum to address this subject once and for all, and maybe quell the niggling in my noggin.

ANSWER: Intention is making conscious the act of uniting a desire with volition or willpower. That simple, and that difficult. It is not about phrasing (although that can be important). Rather, it is about making a mental note regarding the unconscious energies that many times are directly opposite of what we are consciously intending. So, there is no magic word or phrase that is uttered that brings on the change. It is more about setting a direction for the path to be traveled and resetting it at regular intervals. There needs to be a conscious awareness of the unconscious material getting in the way.

Let’s say there is a pleasant act that one is about to execute, like making a meal. One sets the intent once one feels hungry, and then moves through the actions (deciding on the type of food, shopping, preparing, and eating) until one is fed. There was no need for an intense intention setting, since there was no resistance. Now, let’s say one has diabetes and a sweet tooth and knows that eating sugar will lead to serious damage. Setting an intention here is much more difficult, since there is resistance to eating the correct food and staying away from sugar. In this case, one can use all kinds of words to set an intent, but still find oneself eating sugar. So, setting an intent is important, but more important is examining the unconscious motives in consuming something that is killing one.

I want to address two of your points, which are informed by exactly that New Age-y-ness that you are referring to. The first one regarding selfishness: "Phrasing an intention as an “I want to…” sometimes smacks of selfishness, and should an intention be created solely for the betterment of mankind fostering positive energy in the universe for all beings collectively?" Acting like one is not selfish is foolish. Until the dissolution of identity with the ego mind, all acts are selfish, just that some bring peace to the community, and some pain. If one is feeding the poor it is because one feels good seeing the results. So it is a self-centered act that brings good. Fleecing that same community to line one’s pocket is also a selfish act, but one that brings more pain to the community. Both selfish acts, but with different intentions. The intention here is to really want what is best for oneself by freeing total identification with the ego self at all times. Acts of service serve this cause. Acts of solely self-service do the opposite.

The second one regarding fear: "I seem to be stuck on doing it right, so as not to contaminate my energy or cloud the goodness that is out there for us to experience every day.” The energy is not out there, the energy is us. We need to quiet our minds to connect with it. But it is not given as a favor or barter, nor is it to be begged for: it is our true nature. And again, yes, certain acts can bring us more in harmony with it, and others make us more distant.

The quieting of the mind and connecting as you are doing, is a sure of way of connecting. When anything “nips” at you, investigate it fully, until you find what it is trying to tell you.