Two Exercises for Turning Intention into Motivation

Two Exercises for Turning Intention into Motivation
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How do we motivate ourselves to live true to our best aspirations?

By Thupten Jinpa
Framing our days between intention setting and joyful dedication, even once a week, can change how we live. It’s a purposeful approach of self-awareness, conscious intention, and focused effort—three precious gifts of contemplative practice—by which we take responsibility for our thoughts and actions and take charge of our selves and our lives. As the Buddha put it, “You are your own enemy / and you are your own savior. “The Buddha saw: our thoughts, emotions, and actions are the primary sources of our suffering. Equally, our thoughts, emotions, and actions can be the source of our joy and freedom. Living, as much as possible, with conscious intention is the first step of this transformation. So, the following two exercises in intention and dedication are the first step to greater clarity and cohesion in our life, our work, and our relationship with others.

Not only that, when our aspirations include the welfare and happiness of others, our deeds and our life as a whole acquire a purpose that is greater than our individual existence.

In everyday English, we often use the words intention and motivationinterchangeably as if they mean the same thing, but there’s an important difference: deliberateness. Our motivation to do something is the reason or reasons behind that behavior, the source of our desire and the drive to do it. We may be more or less aware of our motivations. Psychologists define motivation as the process that “arouses, sustains, and regulates human and animal behavior.” Simply put, motivation is what turns us on. For some it might be fame; for others, it might be money, excitement or thrill, sex, recognition, loyalty, service, a sense of belonging, safety, justice, and so on. The force of motivation develops through a mutually reinforcing cycle of desire and reward—when something we do is rewarding, we want to do it again; if we do it again, we are rewarded again, and want to do it more…

Intention, on the other hand, is always deliberate, an articulation of a conscious goal. Intention is necessarily conscious; motivation, as Freud pointed out, need not be conscious even to the person himself. We need intentions for the long view. We set and reaffirm our best intentions to keep us inclining in the directions we truly mean to go. But, we need motivations to keep us going over the long haul. If our intention is to run a marathon, there will be times, when the alarm clock goes off for a ten-mile run before work, or in the middle of running, when we’ll ask ourselves, quite reasonably, “Why am I doing this?” We need good, inspired answers to get us over such humps. Conscious or unconscious, motivation is the why, and the spark, behind intention.

You could do this intention-setting exercise at home, first thing in the morning if that is convenient. You could also do it on a bus or a subway on your commute. If you work in an office, you could do it sitting at your desk before you get into the day. You only need two to five uninterrupted minutes. The Tibetan tradition recommends setting our intention and checking with our motivations, in this manner, at the beginning of the day, at the start of a meditation sitting, and before any important activity. Our intention sets the tone of whatever we are about to do. Like music, intention can influence our mood, thoughts, and feelings—setting an intention in the morning we set the tone for the day.

Exercise: Setting an Intention

First, find a comfortable sitting posture. If you can, sit on a cushion on the floor or on a chair with the soles of your feet touching the ground, which gives you a feeling of being grounded. If you prefer, you could also lie down on your back, ideally on a surface that is not too soft like a sinking mattress. Once you have found your posture, relax your body as much as you can, if necessary with some stretches, especially your shoulders and your back. Then, with your eyes closed if it helps you to focus, take three to five deep, diaphragmatic or abdominal breaths, each time drawing the inhalation down into the belly and filling up the torso with the in-breath from the bottom to the top, like filling a jar with water. Then with a long, slow exhalation, expel all the air from the torso, all the way. If it helps, you can exhale from your mouth. Inhale… and exhale…

Once you feel settled, contemplate the following questions: “What is it that I value deeply? What, in the depth of my heart, do I wish for myself, for my loved ones, and for the world?”

Stay on these questions a little and see if any answers come up. If no specific answers surface, don’t worry, simply stay with the open questions. This may take some getting used to, since when we ask questions we usually expect to answer them. Trust that the questions themselves are working even—or especially—when we don’t have ready answers. If and when answers do come up, acknowledge them as they arise and stay with whatever thoughts and feelings they may bring.

Finally, develop a specific set of thoughts as your conscious intention, for this day, for instance. You could think, “Today, may I be more mindful of my body, mind, and speech in my interaction with others. May I, as far as I can, avoid deliberately hurting others. May I relate to myself, to others, and to the events around me with kindness, understanding, and less judgment. May I use my day in a way that is in tune with my deeper values.”

In this way, set the tone for the day…

more…

https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/turning-intention-motivation/

WIKK WEB GURU

 

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