Nothing like starting off an adventure with an apology… well, not an apology exactly, but an explanation. You see, I was so excited to write the first post of this that I got a piece of information incorrect. The only reason I bring it up is because it’s kind of key to this whole process.
I got the name of the book wrong.
Anyone who knows me is chuckling now, because this is SO Paula. I’m the girl who always forgot her lunch at home, the grownup who can never remember where her keys are or what time she’s supposed to be at the dentist. I’ve done my best over the years to turn my absentmindedness into a charming quirk, and I’m hopeful it will be taken as such now. The book I am actually reading is still a Wayne Dyer one. But it’s not Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life. It’s actually The Power of Intention. A bit of irony there, perhaps, since my first intention didn’t quite make it to the page. But I am confident that I can soldier on.
To the book—I chose it because one of my biggest goals in what I expect to be the first step in a long journey is to get in touch with the energy that helps transform dreams into being. To go from wishing things would happen to living in a way that calls them forth. I enjoy Wayne Dyer for several reasons—first, he has a kind face. Shallow perhaps, but as someone who balks at hard work, kindness goes a long way. Also, he is spiritual, but generally not overtly religious. He does talk about God (more on that another time) but mostly he refers to Spirit and the idea that there is something beyond our physical world that can support us. Things are discussed in the context of a Source that is all around, and within us. He may indeed mean the God I learned about in Sunday school, but for me, I think of it more as the energy he says it is, without the religious context. Wayne also seems to be happy, which seems a good thing to have in a “mentor,” even if they don’t know you exist. He had a challenging early life and I’m sure he is not perfect, but he seems content and wise, in a grandfatherly way that I really like. He encourages without lecturing, if you know what I mean.
So, to the first chapter of The Power of Intention, titled “Viewing Intention from a New Perspective.” Wayne talks about his old idea of Intention as a gripping resolve to meet a challenge or reach a goal. You’re gonna make it happen, no matter what. I picture a very A-type personality with a killer determination that I’ve never had. Luckily for me, he goes on to say that he has changed his perspective over the years, and he now sees intention as a force that exists everywhere in the universe. Everywhere. I like the sound of that—no long treks to “find” this thing (though I’d like to make some kind of trek some day) required.
We move into a discussion of Ego, and the assertion that it separates us from intention, as it leads us to define ourselves by exterior things (our possessions, or achievements, our reputations). I can’t help but think about how invested I’ve been over the course of my life in how I looked, what car I drove, or what I had managed to amass. How often have I judged others (and myself) on these or a myriad of other markers? How much have I missed out on by steering my focus towards ego-driven goals?
Now before anyone goes worrying, I am not going to haul my belongings to Goodwill and go live off the land – though the idea of a Waldenesque cabin in the woods sounds quite heavenly. I’m not convinced that my cooking or carpentry skills are strong enough, and I would definitely need indoor plumbing. And my laptop. But as I sit in my apartment looking around, the amount of extra stuff is quite significant. Surely there’s room to trim some fat – I may have to blog a de-cluttering book next.
But I digress – and do it often, I’m afraid. Back to Wayne…
He next presents an image that seems tailor-made for me. It’s a trolley strap that one grabs onto—the trolley here is Intention and by taking hold, we disengage with ego and allow ourselves to be carried forward. This is starting to sound simple. I can hold on, in fact, I need to hold on in most instances, or I’m liable to fall flat on my ass. I don’t think that he means holding on out of fear, but I can visualize a more productive way of doing it, so that I can begin to go with the flow.
We move from the trolley into a discussion of the four stages of Intention: Discipline (“Oh dear”, I say aloud), Wisdom (hoping this comes naturally), Love (sounds a little easier), and Surrender (I love giving up! Okay, I know that’s not what he means, it’s about moving from constantly trying to DO things to allowing yourself to be moved by intention).
He goes on to talk about free will. This intention thing, it’s not a demand. Though there is no place that it isn’t, there’s no requirement for us to connect to it. I picture it like being in a room with a hundred outlets – the energy we need is available, but we can choose to never plug in. When I think of the differences between we humans any other species, this is what strikes me most – that we have been given far more choices in this world. No matter the situation, we have free will to respond in a hundred ways. And so I can choose to connect to this trolley strap, to go on the ride, or I can choose to sit and watch trolleys go by, wondering where they might have taken me.
Having done this kind of reading before, I recognize the common theme that Wayne describes, the idea that everything we need is right here—that we must act as if we have already received what it is we think we don’t have. Depending on the day, I generally believe this. And I have certainly seen the principle manifested in people whom I admire. They are the peaceful ones, who seem to have few requirements for happiness and who are almost always smiling. The ones who make me think, “I want some of what they’re smoking.”
Each chapter of The Power of Intention ends with Suggestions—even the homework is framed so nicely—for implementing ideas. This first week is mostly about thoughts. I am to remember the trolley car when I am out of sorts, and visualize myself holding on (note to self—don’t randomly reach out in public for an invisible strap). To repeat the word intention when I am anxious or feel separated from my focus. To remind myself that I have a life mission, and a partner in the universe for making it happen. To act as if what I desire is already here, treat myself as if I already am what I’d like to become. The last thing he gives is a Hasidic saying to be carried with me. My religion antennas go up, but I’ve decided to work with Wayne, and trust him. And so I shall now copy:
When you walk across the fields with your mind pure and holy, then from all the stones, and all growing things, and all animals, the sparks of their soul come out and cling to you, and then they are purified and become a holy fire in you.
I can get onboard with this as a metaphor for taking in the energy of my surroundings. I could do without the pure and holy references, but it’s not my saying. I’ve committed to listening and to doing, and so I shall. I’ve been around long enough that you don’t have to understand or agree with everything for it to work. And so I put on my trust cap and begin.