Working with Intention – a change of heart

January 27th, 2019




“Your intentions are your nonphysical causes that set energy into motion.”


Gary Zukav




We are now well into the New Year and perhaps already some of our best intentions, under the guise of New Year resolutions, have already been compromised. Perhaps some of those were regarding our health: to finally ’get into shape’; eat a healthier diet; put aside time for meditation or yoga practice; attend those workshops that had piqued our interest last year but we never quite got around to and so on.





Does our failure to follow through on some of these mean that the whole concept of intention as an aid to self development is flawed? How do we gently direct our yearning heart and restless mind towards what we desire to experience? The Conscious Health blog investigates…




”It’s a bum rap I tell ya!”


The concept of intention has received an undeserved negative reputation. This is largely thanks to the oft-used quote: ”The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”1 It argues that intention is not enough and must be followed through with consistent action. It also suggests that stated intentions only gives a head start to those who would undermine them. One of those people may even be ourself – but more on that shortly.


While it may indeed be a good idea to ”not let the devil know your plans” it does not automatically follow that intentions are useless or even counter-productive. On the contrary…



”Yi, Chi, Li”


This simple, three word statement from Taoism shows the importance of intention. ’Yi’ is our intention, the direction of our mind and heart. ’Chi’ is the energy, effort and gathering of resources to make things happen. ’Li’ is the result.


There is therefore a causal connection between our intention and the results we experience. So why don’t we always realize our intentions?



Conscious vs Unconscious creations
















Several things differentiate the conscious and unconscious (sometimes used interchangeably with ’subconscious’) parts of our mind.


  1. Both the conscious and unconscious are creative.
  2. The unconscious is continually trying to become conscious within us. Like the tide continuously rolling in, it wants our consciousness to expand.
  3. Many will experience their unconscious creations as suffering, discomfort or ”Why does this always happen to me?!” moments.


This last one is obvious but profound in light of the first two: We are not (yet) conscious of our unconscious side.


For example, if we desire to create or attract something in our life with our conscious mind but our unconscious mind has, programmed within it, convictions that we are unworthy or unable to achieve our goal we will (unconsciously) sabotage it.


This is because each creation – one from the conscious mind, the other from the unconscious – will cancel each other out. Unless we make this unconscious programming conscious to ourselves it will appear as ’bad luck’, ’poor discipline’ or simply ’not meant to be’.


To use a modern metaphor, view the unconscious as our hard disk. In order to change anything on this hard disk we need to transfer it to our desktop which resides in editable, RAM memory – ie, our conscious mind. Once there we can do something about these sabotaging programs because now at least we can see them for what they are: old lines of code that are no longer serving any useful purpose.


Illustration by Cali Rossi. All rights reserved.















So how did they get there in the first place? The usual suspects: Withheld or withdrawn love; conditional love where we only receive attention when we do what others want of us, not for who we are; negative reinforcement where we are punished or humiliated for daring to honor our own integrity and so on.


With such a hidden army of saboteurs buried in our creative unconscious is it any wonder we are bamboozled time and again even with the best of conscious intentions.



The heart of the matter


So, we cannot depend only on our tricksy mind to midwife our intentions into reality. We need assistance from the heart. There is a beautiful saying, attributed to the Buddha, that supports us in this: ”The mind has no answers. The heart has no questions.”


While the Latin root of intention, ’intentio’ means ”to stretch out with effort and attention”, the Middle English meaning speaks more to the heart: ”Emotions, feeling, heart, mind, understanding”. Effective intention need emotional content, not just mental will.






Set and setting


Both our mindset and the setting we create are vital to potentising our intention and bringing it into conscious creation.


Mindset refers to our attitude, centeredness and self knowledge about why we are doing what we are doing, free of interfering, counterproductive thoughts or practices.


Setting refers to creating an environment that helps focus and support our heart and mind on our intention. The setting guides and informs our behaviour.


For example, for the religiously inclined, temples or cathedrals provide a setting that engenders respect and humility before God. For others, the pulsing beauty and shimmering mystery of nature provides the setting to delve deeper into the Self and connected oneness with all life.


The set and setting needs to engage our heart.. While the mind stretches out with earnest intent, it is the heart that receives the message. It is this gentle tension or interplay between a clear mind and a receptive heart that is the stuff of effective intention.



Make that change


Change is decided, not by focusing upon what we do not have and want to possess or experience but rather by letting go of something we already possess and need to let go.


In traditional Chinese medicine titles are given to each of the organ systems. The rather grandiose title of ’The Minister of Change and Evolution’ is given to the humble colon. The colon removes waste that has become potentially toxic to our system. Even the nourishing food that was at one time vital for our survival and wellbeing needs to be eventually released so we can move on.


The lesson of this is that hanging onto something – a relationship; an idea or ideal; a job; a practice or habit; a belief – just because it was at one time beneficial to us (or at least we thought so at the time) does not mean that we need to keep hanging onto it.


On the contrary, letting go of something no longer useful creates the space for something new to arrive. ”Nature hates a vacuum” so those who can transform their lives effectively are those who have become skilled in identifying and letting go of things that no longer serve them.


Change never begins ’out there’. It always begins with the Self. To be effective with intention we have to look into the mirror of our Self and be honest.





Change within the Self becomes a ripple of change all around us. Mysteriously, by helping ourselves, everything that flows from that transformation positively benefits others.



What we want vs what we need


Sometimes we are disappointed when the fruit of our intentions do not deliver exactly what we wanted. This is where our receptive heart comes in. We need time to digest and feel what exactly has come back to us from our intention – what we really asked for. What we need.


It as at these moments we can glimpse our higher Self and how it gently nudges us towards self-realization. We need to expect the unexpected.


After all, how else could we ever experience anything new? Our intentions must lead us into from what we know into new areas of expansion. If we think we already know what the result should be then we are only engaging our mind, not our heart. By allowing for the mysterious and unexpected we can truly receive what we need more than merely what we want.





Till next time, when you need it but least expect it…


Often attributed to Samuel Johnson in 1775 but probably dating further back to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153) who wrote: ”Hell is full of good wishes or desires.”


© Jeremy Halpin all rights reserved. All images are the author’s own unless otherwise indicated or if the original source is unknown at the time of writing. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking the button in the bottom right hand corner of the page – or share it on the social media of your choice. If you have any wishes or questions regarding subjects to be discussed on this blog use the contact information below. Jeremy is also available for seminars, lectures and personal consultation:

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