There's a technique used in many different martial arts called "kime" (a word of Japanese origin) that allows martial artists to attack much more effectively and with much less risk of injury. Here's how it works: normally, people intend to simply punch at their target, but with kime, you intend to punch through your target; in other words, the goal isn't to punch your target, but to punch beyond your target, to aim with your mind as far beyond your target as you can. To see how this same principle is applied in our daily lives, think of this: if you have a homework assignment to complete, and it has to be done in two hours, if you pretend it has two be done in 15 minutes, you'll get it done much quicker than if you give yourself that mental luxury of thinking that you have two hours to do the assignment. As you have probably experienced, convincing yourself that the assignment has to be done in 15 minutes rather than the two hours you actually have makes you try harder and mobilizes more of your mental energy. The same applies to intentions. If you want to intend to give yourself love, that is all well and good, but it's not the most effective way to use your intentions; instead, intend to give yourself beyond what you need, as far beyond as you can intend. Note that this is not the intent to go beyond (that would not be a universal intention), but the “Intentional Essence” of what you intend – that is, you could give yourself, for example, “beyond” love.
I've discovered that all variations of the intent to go beyond fit into three basic categories:
1.) Quality. Examples: Beyond purity, beyond refinement, beyond compassion; better, higher, greater.
2.) Intensity. Examples: Beyond strong, beyond powerful. This would mean, for instance, one would intend to go beyond the strength of the intention you can do. It wouldn't mean you would try to generate an intention with a quality "beyond" the quality of strength; that would fit into category 1.
3.) Amount. Examples: Beyond alot, beyond enough.
If you need a real life example to wrap your mind around, think of pain: it has three basic variables - type of pain (quality), intensity of pain (intensity), and amount of pain (size of the area of your body affected, volume). Now, intend to simply give yourself love. Note how you feel. Now, intend to give yourself “beyond” love in terms of beyond the amount, beyond the quality, and beyond the intensity your intentions would normally be able to generate. You should feel a much greater effect than you got when you simply intended to give yourself love.
VIII. Getting The Most Out Of Your Intentions
There are many ways to make your intentions much more efficient and effective. Just as it is possible to move ten thousand pound boulders using only wooden planks and small rocks as levers, and possible to provide power to tens of millions of people using just the force created by falling water from a dam, it is possible to use your intentions in many ingenious and effective ways. Some of these methods combine certain intentions that work well together; some of these methods use different ways of focusing your mind on specific energy centers within the body or on certain parts of the body; some of these methods use the body’s natural ability to heal itself; and, finally, some of these methods use even different kinds of means than these to heal the body and mind. Here are just some of the ways you can enhance your intentions:
Use Intentions In Combinations. You’ve already used the intent to embrace certain positive emotions while refusing the opposite negative emotion quite a few times already if you’ve read this far. However, there is much more to using intentional combinations than just this. Certain emotions act as catalysts for each other; for example, calmness is greatly enhanced by equanimity, the ability to withstand negativity and remain unshaken, as equanimity therefore makes calmness invincible, as it prevents negative emotions such as agitation from disturbing calmness. Clarity and intelligence are also catalysts for each other; mental clarity is greatly enhanced by intelligence, or the ability to organize experience; additionally, it is enhanced by alertness, the positive desire to know the truth, and many more positive emotions. Of course, just as you’ve read already, the simultaneous intent to refuse the negative opposites of these emotions acts as yet a further catalyst to the effectives of your intentions, as does working with intentions that strengthen your ego, its identification with itself, and expanding its identity to include others. Lastly, and most importantly, the intent to embrace or give yourself self-love and other positive emotions toward yourself and the simultaneous intent to refuse self-hate and other negative emotions toward the self like self-loathing, etc., enhance every other positive intention you choose to do. You can see that the possibilities for using intentions in combinations with each other for additional effectiveness is literally infinite. Unfortunately, it would take hundreds of thousands of pages to list all the possible positive emotions and the emotions that act as catalysts for them, but here is a short list of important emotions and their catalysts to help you along in your practice of intentions:
Self-love is enhanced by: compassion for oneself, goodwill toward oneself, unconditional tolerance of oneself, forgiveness of oneself, and refusal of the opposite negative emotions.
Joy is enhanced by: inspiration, optimism, the ability to see goodness in people and situations, appreciativeness, gratitude, playfulness, spontaneity, and refusal of the opposite negative emotions.
Forgiveness is enhanced by: tenderness, motherly love, compassion, letting go of negativity, surrender, and refusal of the opposite negative emotions.
Compassion is enhanced by: empathy, warm sympathy, love, expanded ego identity to include others and things we normally consider “outside ourselves”, positive concern for others’ well-being.
Centering Consciousness. Initially, this concept is somewhat difficult to understand. To begin to understand what centering consciousness in a particular place within our body, think back to when you had something to eat so delicious that you were so overcome with pleasure that you literally stopped seeing and paying attention to anything around you are were totally engrossed in how good that food tasted – even if this experience lasted just for a few seconds, or even an instant. Yet, thinking about these kind of experiences in this way, we are driven to inquire what, exactly, made us stop being aware of everything around us except the taste of that delicious food. Why did we seem to lose the rest of our perception, and yet not fall flat on our face due to clumsiness as we enjoyed the taste of that food? Why did the whole world seem to disappear, except for that delicious taste? The answer is focus.
However, we are usually taught from very infancy that focus means narrowing our attention to a certain object or a certain thought, and cutting our attention off from everything else. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Focus just means putting your attention on something specific; there’s no cutting off or shutting off, just natural, relaxed attention on a particular thought, person, or thing.
For a moment, close your eyes and intend to give your mind natural, relaxed focus on something that you like to think about; it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you love it. What happens when you do that? Your mind naturally and effortlessly focuses on what you intended to focus on, yet you don’t feel disconnection from anything; you merely had your mind concentrate on something specific.
This kind of natural, tension-free concentration can be used in many ways. If you need to concentrate on important task, such as trying to remember something, trying to think of an idea, or trying to solve a problem, you can simply intend to give your mind focus on whatever you’re trying to do. However, focus can be used not only in the mind, but in the body as well, to cultivate and enhance certain qualities in our minds and bodies. For example, think of a time when you expressed love, affection or tenderness to someone; what happened in your body and mind when you did that? In all likelihood, your consciousness was focused in your heart, and that is where you really felt those emotions of love and affection. Now think of a time when you were thinking philosophically or scientifically. What happened to your consciousness at that moment? In all likelihood, your consciousness was focused in your head, absorbed in comprehension and understanding. You can see that the mind naturally focuses on different body parts for different mental actions; actions involving thought, memory and creativity are centered in the brain; emotional actions, like comforting someone or expressing love, are centered in the heart. As there are thousands of body parts, you can experiment with embracing focus on different body parts. Here’s a short list of some body parts and the effects of focusing on them:
Back of the brain – creativity.
Top of the brain – faith.
Front of the brain – will.
Eyes – wakefulness.
Neck – serenity.
Arms – the ability to positively fight off negative influences.
Heart – love.
Solar plexus – positive pride.
Belly – invincibility.
Feet – groundedness.
Working With Childhood Experiences. Often, in early childhood, we have a multitude of negative experiences that emotionally scar us. These emotional wounds then fester and grow deeper and more damaging, and begin to dictate our lives by influencing us toward negative emotions, negative habits, and negative choices. We usually feel powerless over these feelings and memories, and often get “stuck” in life due to these unresolved issues. However, we can consciously use the power of intention to re-shape our minds and heal from these traumatic experiences.
Just for a moment, think back to a traumatic experience you had as a child. Close your eyes and intend to refuse all the pain in your mind and heart caused by those memories; do this for a few minutes, and really let yourself go deeply into this intention. You may find that negative feelings surface temporarily as your mind becomes more alert; if this happens, don’t worry – just as removing a splinter from one’s foot can sometimes be painful, so can removing negative emotional scars from our minds. Just let yourself feel whatever comes up and continue to intend to refuse the pain. Whatever happens while you hold this intention, you will feel more alive and sensitive inside afterwards, and more whole, even if you become less emotionally numb and therefore are more aware of your emotions, both positive and negative.
Now, think of what you would have changed about your childhood if you could have the power to do exactly that. Would your mother be more loving? Would your father be more gentle? Would your parents get along with each other better? Whatever you wished had been the case, close your eyes and, intend to embrace exactly those things that you wished you had been given as a child. If you wish your mother was more loving, intend to embrace your mother’s love; if you wish your father was more loving, intend to embrace your father’s love. Hold this intention for a few minutes, and again, let yourself feel whatever emotions arise in your mind, positive or negative. How do you feel? You feel much more alive inside and much less emotionally numb, and, if you held the intention long enough, may even feel like your “inner child” was reawakened – that is, you may feel more spontaneous, free of tension, playful, and joyful. To get the maximum effect, work with your childhood memories for at least 20 minutes a day; in time, you may begin to heal from your negative childhood experiences, and discover that you still have the capacity for love, joy, spontaneous expression, and playfulness.
Working With The Roots Of Negative Thoughts. In many schools of thought, the mind is seen as something similar to a field where various thought-patterns "take root", grow, and spread, just like a physical field of soil where plants take root, grow, and spread. Negative thoughts are likened to weeds which need to be pulled out by the root - that is, destroyed from their very foundation - because, just like plants, if the roots of negative thought-patterns are allowed to remain, the mental "weeds" will simply regenerate. This analogy is quite apt, as there are definitely specific moments in our lives when negative thought patterns begin to take root. As mentioned above, this is often in early childhood, but sometimes these roots of mental negativity form later, such as when a loved one dies, when our house is destroyed by fire, and so on. It is these stressful events which we were not able to cope with that are usually the start of negative thought patterns that then grow and spread over the field of our mind; however, when we work on attacking the roots of our negative thoughts, we can very effectively begin to heal ourselves.
Often, the roots of our negative thoughts extend all the way back to traumatic childhood experiences, so it is often most beneficial to work with the roots of negativity associated with those experiences. Think for a moment about what you experienced as a child - specifically, the traumatic experiences you had. Close your eyes for a couple minutes and intend to simultaneously refuse the roots of your negative thought-patterns associated with those traumatic experiences and give your mind and heart the opposite positive childhood experiences; for example, if your father was angry and depressed, intend to refuse the roots of the negativity in your mind associated with that trauma, and also intend to embrace replacing those roots of negativity with self-love. In this way, you can work with the deepest layers of your mind, as well as your deepest feelings, in order to heal yourself that much more effectively.
Self-Love: This is by far the most important thing to work with in our daily lives. It might sound like an old, tired cliché, but loving yourself is the most important thing to do. Likewise, having compassion for oneself, warm sympathy for oneself, empathy for oneself, and so on, are also of the highest importance. It is truly a great misfortune that our society believes self-love is either some narcissistic grandiosity or some kind of weakness, because being comfortable with oneself and having positive feelings for oneself is the beginning, the middle, and the end of healing, and in fact, the basis of everything we do. Self-love is misunderstood to be a kind of preoccupation about oneself, but the truth is that we become preoccupied with ourselves in a negative way when we believe something is wrong with us; real self-love actually liberates our hearts from such worries. Self-love is also really the only quality that can allow us to transcend the worries we usually have about what other people think of us, the fear we have of being judged and criticized, the envy we feel for people who society labels as successful, and the cravings we have for pleasures that at first seem wonderful but end up being unfulfilling, and so on. Self-love is the only force that can really bring peace to one’s own mind and love to one’s own heart, and logically so, because concern for others, generosity, forgiveness and all those other positive interpersonal emotions stem from one’s own self. It is you that feels all those emotions, or doesn’t feel them, not someone else. There are many social critics, politicians, and thinkers who would deny this, but demanding that somebody hate themselves and love others is like asking a river to run dry and still have water available for others. It is an impossibility. And self-love is not something we cultivate so others will like us, because when you think about it, that isn’t self-love, but just another form of self-judgment and self-criticism, and an extremely destructive one at that. Self-love is cultivated so we no longer suffer, and so we can be truly happy.
For a few minutes, close your eyes and intend to give your heart infinite, unconditional self-love. Really let yourself go deeply into this intention. Now, open your eyes. How do you feel? You feel a positive sense of inner-directedness, love flowing toward the core of your own heart, and indeed feel self-love! For most people, this will be the very first time they have felt such an emotion, but as you work with self-love through your intentions on a daily basis, you will, in a very positive way, get used to loving yourself, and will gradually come to deeply realize that you deserve it. Most importantly, your emotional awareness will deepen, and you will increasingly feel, for lack of a better word, at home in yourself.
Sometimes, when we try to work with an intention like forgiveness, gratitude, apology, and other emotions that require us to extend ourselves to others, we will feel resistance or anger, and feel that we are sacrificing ourselves or overextending ourselves. In these instances, you will notice that your body and mind become very tense and constricted. This is a signal to return to the intention of giving yourself self-love, because it takes a tremendous amount of emotional strength and health to truly, genuinely wish another well. Besides, self-love is by far the most important thing to cultivate within ourselves, and is the basis for us being able to extend ourselves to others in empathy, warm sympathy, and so on, so if you ever feel strained or burdened when working with intentions, just go back to intending to give yourself self-love.
Working With Different Aspects Of Ourselves. Have you ever heard of someone “going into therapy to nurture their inner child”? Well, that phrase is far more accurate than many of us would readily believe. There are, in fact, different aspects of ourselves, many of them in fact. None of these aspects are separate from one another at all, but they nevertheless remain distinct, just as your head is not separate from the rest of your body by any means, but nevertheless remains distinct and unique in many of its qualities. We can see that we do indeed have different aspects just by looking at our daily lives: we behave differently when with friends, at work, alone with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or on stage when performing.
When you want to cultivate a certain emotion within yourself, work with the aspect of yourself that is most closely associated with that emotion. For example, if you want to cultivate joy or spontaneity, it would do well to intend to give your “inner child” unconditional self-love. If you want to cultivate creativity, you could work with the creative aspect of yourself instead. However, for most people in modern society, it is the inner child in us that needs to be healed, as most of us have had extremely difficult experiences in childhood. Often, if you give the inner child-aspect of you what you most wanted in your childhood but didn’t get, you will be able to heal much more quickly than if you try to work with a different aspect of yourself or decide not to work with a particular aspect of yourself.
For a few minutes, close your eyes and intend to give your inner child infinite, unconditional love from your parents. Again, as you are working with your deepest emotional issues, you may feel positive emotions, negative emotions, or a mix of both; just let them arise and pass away naturally. As you open your eyes, take note of how you feel now compared to how you felt before you gave your inner child infinite, unconditional love. Most people will experience an inner awakening and deepening of their emotional awareness when they work with their inner child.
If you wish, you can work with other aspects of yourself as well. There are many aspects to work with, including creative intelligence, moral intelligence, the will, the emotions, the sense of self, social intelligence, artistic intelligence, insight, and so on. In fact, any emotion you want to cultivate has an aspect of it’s own, so if you want to cultivate stability, for example, you could work with the stabilizing aspect of yourself – you can even see such an aspect in the physical body, with sophisticated self-regulatory systems in the brain, the heart, the thyroid, and every other place in the body as well. All in all, working with different aspects of ourselves is a way to be more specific with our intentional work, and therefore more efficient and effective.
VIII. Useful Applications Of Intentions
Proper intentional practice can be a powerful tool to both work with mental illness as well as cultivate various positive qualities in practically all areas of life. Just as importantly, intentions can also be used in pressure situations to immediately and powerfully influence our minds and bodies in order to help us succeed at almost any endeavor. And last but certainly not least, intentions can be used to heal others, no matter how far away they might be. But it’s important to first focus on healing mental illness and other emotional wounds we may have – and I have yet to meet somebody who doesn’t have memories or other trauma that need to be healed. Although intentions can certainly be used for more mental conditions that I will describe here, I will try to list some of the most common mental illnesses, and some ideas on how to treat them.
A good first step in the treatment of any mental condition is to realize what troubles your mind the most. Did your father abuse you? Did your mother not love you enough? Whatever happened to you, you can actually work with your mind to heal the wounds caused by such experiences. For example, if you feel that your father never loved you, close your eyes, sit comfortably, and intend to receive perfect and everlasting love from your father, and hold that intention for as long as you possibly can. Also, refuse the emotional scars left by the trauma that happened to you at the same time. Most people experience powerful healing when they work with the issues in their lives that trouble them the most.
Some people may be unclear as to why they feel a certain way. In this case, simply give your body the ability to breathe neutrally, without any particular positive or negative intention. You will probably get an emotional sensation somewhere in your body; then, trace that sensation to it’s origin, which may be a totally different place in your body. Then ask that place of origin what it needs to heal. When you’ve discovered the main emotional issue(s) in your life that trouble you, you can work with them directly with intentions are thereby heal yourself much more effectively.
Even if you have trouble figuring out what you need most, you can still work with the emotions you already feel. Here are some useful applications you can use intentions for:
Depression: Everybody knows what this illness is. However, much of the time, people find that it does not go away even when they take medication and follow their doctor’s advice. To deal with sadness, first intend to refuse sadness, both mentally and physically. What do you feel what you refuse sadness? Something like a pleasant sense of wideness in the mouth and jaw, as well as in the upper arms and stomach. Now, in at the same time, intend to embrace joy, both mentally and physically. How do you feel? You feel totally different! Some other helpful intentions for depression are the intentions to refuse self-hate and embrace self-love simultaneously, as self-hatred is a common factor in depression; the intent to refuse vulnerability and to embrace invincibility, as it is often the case that other peoples’ hurtful comments make us depressed when we are vulnerable; and also, the intent to refuse pessimism and embrace optimism, as pessimism can drag us down and give us “reasons” to be depressed, despite the fact that we don’t actually have to be depressed.
Anxiety: First, intend to refuse the anxiety, both mentally and physically, until you feel stable and secure. Then, as you continue to intend to refuse anxiety, intend to embrace tranquility, both mentally and physically. How do you feel now? You should feel calm and very resistant to anxiety. Other effective intentions for the treatment of anxiety include the intent to refuse oversensitivity, or the tendency to be easily startled and stressed, the intent to refuse obsessiveness and tension, as those two negative emotions often form the basis for anxiety, the intent to embrace equanimity, or the positive emotion that allows you to be at peace no matter what happens, even as you stay connected to the world and continue to experience it, and the intent to embrace a sense of loving security, the kind that a good father or grandfather might give to his loved ones, a kind of loving paternal protection that puts you at ease.
Anger: With all the stress, tension and poverty in society nowadays, as well as negative stimuli in the form of loud noises, irritable people, and so on, anger is a problem that we all struggle with. And having this problem carries no shame, because it takes a tremendous amount of skill in dealing with our emotions to actually, in a positive way, prevent anger without suppression or other means of distancing ourselves from our emotions. A good intention to start with is the intent to both refuse anger and embrace love simultaneously; just as anger burns us and harm us, love is the opposite positive emotion that heals us. Grudges and other chronic anger issues that involve specific individuals and their negative actions usually require the intent to embrace forgiveness and to refuse the grudge we hold and all the emotions that go along with it. It also is helpful to embrace tolerance and refuse intolerance, as freedom from anger can only permanently take root when we are able to tolerate our experiences; otherwise, we will have new impulses of anger constantly arise that need to be dealt with.
Numbness: Most of us usually can’t tell what we feel from moment to moment, and we think this is normal. We seem to interact with the world, but aren’t aware of our own emotions and reactions; we are cut off from ourselves, like a fish out of water. However, with proper intent, we can reconnect with both ourselves and the world around us and feel alive again inside. It is important to realize that numbness, just like other emotions, isn’t actually a lack of emotion; it is actually an emotion in and of itself, a form of disconnection that paralyzes our emotional perception. First, intend to refuse the numbness for a few minutes. What do you feel? You may feel any range of emotions, from sadness to anger, from fear to even relief or pleasure. As these emotions come up, embrace the ability to endure them; the goal is to allow awareness of your emotions, whatever they may be. Then, as you continue to refuse numbness and embrace the capacity to allow yourself to feel them without interfering with them, intend to embrace connectedness. Simply sitting for several minutes and experiencing your inner state may sometimes be painful, but in the end you will feel much more emotionally aware and alive, something most of us have searched for for most of our adult lives.
Obsessive Thinking: Everybody has times where they just can’t move on from a troubling thought or emotional experience. We often get stuck with the same repetitive negative thoughts for days, and don’t even realize this has happened to us. Fortunately, with proper intention, we can let go of obsessions and cultivate a sense of letting go, a sense of freedom, in our daily lives. First, intend to refuse obsessiveness both mentally and physically. What happens in your mind and body? You’ll notice that your muscles let go and are freed of tension, particularly the muscles in your chest and also in the back of your neck. Next, as you continue to refuse obsessiveness, intend to embrace the ability to let go, to allow the energy in your body and mind to flow freely and without obstruction. However, letting go is not the same as going limp; there’s no sense of disconnection or collapse. Letting go is about freedom, allowing your mind and body to experience life without tension or suppression. Other good intentions to help with obsession are the intent to embrace the ability to be mindful and aware of your thoughts, as repetitive negative thoughts vanish when you shine the spotlight of your awareness on them, and also working with intentions that solve underlying emotional issues (and trust me, everybody has them). As you use your intentions to refuse obsession and embrace the ability to let go, as well as practice the other intentions that help obsessive thought, you will find your awareness as well as your body open and relax – a return to a more natural and free way of living.
Envy: This is a particularly painful emotion to suffer from. While it may be true that empathy, or the ability to identify with other peoples’ experiences, is the opposite of envy, there are usually other causes that cause us to be jealous and hinder our ability to have empathy for others. We all have grown up in cultures that equate our worth as human beings with external accomplishments; being ourselves, we have been taught in so many subtle ways, isn’t enough. And because external accomplishment is measured relatively, in terms of better and worse rather than in terms of absolute standards, we naturally feel envious of others who have more money, more power, and so forth, and can’t honestly wish them well, because we believe that their success actually diminishes our own value as people. While empathy is the opposite positive emotion, with envy it is better to start by giving yourself unconditional self-love and, of course, to refuse envy. Other good intentions to work with are the intent to embrace a sense of unconditional fulfillment that is independent of success or failure, as well as the intend to give ourselves unconditional and authentic validation, a sense that we are good, not bad, and worthy of praise. Please note this isn’t a sense of arrogance, but a sense that we are worthy of praise. When you’ve worked with these intentions for awhile, then you can work with the intent to embrace empathy; after you feel good about yourself unconditionally and feel content, empathy will come easily.
Intentions aren’t good only for healing mental illness and suffering; they can be used to enhance every part of our lives. Here are some ways you can use intentions to improve the quality of your life and even the quality of your work:
Creativity: Intentions can be used to enhance our creativity. Before you embark on a creative project, you may want to sit with your eyes closed and intend to give your mind and body creativity, freedom, joy and inspiration, and refuse mental deadness and joylessness. You can do this for as long as you want, and, as long as you don’t tire yourself out too much, the longer you work with these intentions before you work on your creative project, the more creative your work will be. I myself use intentions to enhance my creativity both before and during the time I work on creative projects (like this book!), and I’ve been amazed at how much better my work is when I work with the intentions that enhance creativity.
School: Some say that learning is simply and automatic process, and that our ability to learn is largely inborn and cannot be modified much. Well, guess what? They’re wrong! Learning is a mental function whose bodily equivalent is digestion. Think about it – when you learn, you take in and assimilate knowledge; when you digest, you take in and assimilate nutrients. So how do we help the mind assimilate and “digest” knowledge? First, both mentally and physically, embrace clarity, insight and comprehension, and refuse dullness and confusion. How do you feel? As you do these intentions, you will feel an increased ability to process information and digest it – an increased ability to mentally “penetrate” ideas and understand them, as well as a kind of physical intelligence and poise. Next time you want to study, try doing these intentions for a few minutes before your study, and you’ll find that you’ll be able to learn faster and more completely than before.
Performance: Since I went to music school instead of a “normal” college, I know how important it is to be able to consciously generate the necessary mental and physical state that allows one to perform effectively, whether for a concert, a presentation at a business meeting, a job interview, or giving a speech in public. Before a performing, because you’re not onstage or in the public eye yet, you can afford to focus all your energy on your intentions. Before you perform, close your eyes, sit somewhere comfortable, and intend, both mentally and physically, to both refuse nervousness and embrace a sense of invincibility in terms of being invulnerable to what people think about you – not a sense of defensiveness, like “I don’t give a shit,” but a sense that you’re comfortable in yourself to such a degree that other people’s opinions of you don’t bother you. It’s best to allow for at least 20 minutes of these intentions before you have to perform, so you can really have enough time to prepare your mind and body. Other good intentions that you can use to prepare yourself for performance are the intentions to refuse self-consciousness, embrace groundedness, embrace a calm and nurturing identity with the audience, and also the intent to give your ego invincibility and firmness. Besides intentions that help you feel calm and centered as you perform, there are also intentions that can help increase the effectiveness of your performance. The intentions to embrace the ability to inspire others, to embrace radiance and intensity, and to embrace a sense of emotional connectedness with your audience will all serve to improve your performance. However, when you go onstage, you’ll most likely have to expend most of your energy on the actual performance, though you’ll probably be able to expend some of your energy on intentions. It’s best to experiment in front of smaller audiences in situations where not much is at stake to find the best balance in dividing your energy between intentions and the actual performance. In time, you’ll discover which balance is best for you.
Business: It may seem, at least on the surface, that business is entirely about profitable deals, smart decisions and, as some say, the bottom line. However, underneath the surface of all human activity lie emotional currents that cause us to form opinions, which we usually believe are based entirely on rationality rather than emotion. Similarly, in business, getting a good deal isn’t the only important part of business relations; trust, respect, kindness and a sense of ethics are just as necessary as intelligent deal-making. For instance, if somebody offered you a really great deal, but you didn’t trust that person, would you make a deal with him? Most people won’t make deals with people they don’t trust.
Before you begin an important business meeting, close your eyes and intend to embrace trustworthiness, respectfulness, kindness and ethicalness in your behavior. When you’re actually in the business meeting, continue to hold these intentions throughout the meeting for as long as you can; pace yourself if you have to, so you have at least enough energy to use your intentions while you talk. Learn to balance the amount of energy you use for intentions and for the practical matters at hand during the meeting; in time, you’ll find which balance is right for you, and thanks to your intentions, you’ll be that much more effective at getting people to make deals with you and listen to your ideas.
You can use intentions to improve virtually any activity you do. There are exceptions, such as sleep: during sleep, one cannot make any conscious decisions or use intentions consciously. However, for almost every activity, intentions can, with practice, dramatically improve your life.
IX. Other Things To Do
While it is important to practice intentions for prolonged periods of time and work with every aspect of yourself, it is even more important to lead a balanced and healthy life. A healthy life is the basis for successfully working with intentions, not the other way around. You should do the following things to ensure that you progress towards inner and outer health in addition to the practice of intentions:
1.) Sleep. No man, woman or animal can live without it. Sleep is the part of our life where our bodies heal themselves and recharge themselves with energy, so it’s crucial that you get as much as you need. Most people need about nine hours of sleep each night, but some people, myself included, need more. I personally need over ten hours of sleep each night to feel well rested, and no intention, medication or exercise can change that, and that’s ok.
It’s also important to go to bed early and be asleep y 9:30, because the body gets its deepest sleep between 9:30 and 7:30; going to bed later means we miss out on our chance for the deepest quality of sleep, and therefore we feel tired the next day. Daytime sleep, unless you absolutely need it, tends to disrupt our bodies’ natural sleep cycle, and tends to create nighttime insomnia. It’s also best not to have cold drinks or even generally be cold at night, because coldness makes the body and nervous system more alert, whereas warmth promotes relaxation and therefore sleep.
2.) Avoid Alcohol, Tobacco And Drugs. You already know the dangers of all of these substances, so I will discuss them but briefly. Harmful substances like alcohol and drugs that warp our consciousness severely diminish our mental energies and impair our ability to concentrate. Thus, they almost completely destroy our ability to do intentional work, because if we can’t clearly perceive our mental state and can’t concentrate, how can we work with our emotions?
Tobacco may seem like it would be less harmful, but it’s actually just as harmful, only in a different way. Tobacco destroys the lungs, and therefore hinders our ability to breathe properly. To demonstrate how tobacco impairs our ability to work with intentions, try this exercise: breathe really raggedly and cough hard, like you had emphysema. How do you feel? Because you breathed as if you had emphysema, you actually made yourself feel as though you actually had it! Now you have probably observed that people who have smoked for say thirty years breathe more heavily than other people their age; and if you are unfortunate enough to be addicted to tobacco yourself, you know firsthand how your lungs, if you have smoked for years, probably aren’t what they used to be. So you can see now that tobacco actually greatly interferes with our ability to do intentional work, because it destroys our ability to breathe.
3.) Choose Love Instead Of Destructiveness. Now, of course this ideal is just about impossible to fulfill perfectly. But the basics aren’t so hard to follow if you think about it. This advice isn’t some moral code that you should uphold in order not to harm others, but is simply a recognition that in order to harm others, you actually have to harm yourself first. Remember the exercise earlier in this article where you pretended that you were about to kill someone? Remember how your body and mind became hard, twisted, constricted and cut off? Now, pretend you’re about to vote for a presidential candidate you really like, but that he intends to invade several foreign countries, exterminate millions of people, promote the consumption of alcohol and cigarettes all across the world, and generally make life much more difficult and painful for as many people as he possibly can. Pretend that, despite all this, you actually like his policies, and support him very strongly. Pretend you’re about to pull a lever in a voting booth that will cast your ballot for him, and hold that thought for about ten seconds. How do you feel, mentally and physically? Your posture becomes hunched and hard and your mind loses all sense of kindness, empathy and connection with the world and becomes twisted and destructive. Now compare this sensation to what you felt when you pretended you were about to murder somebody – if you think carefully, you’ll realize that these two sensations are almost identical. Now you have clearly experienced that destructive actions, whether murdering somebody or supporting political policies that destroy, whether selling drugs or using them yourself, are all rooted in negative intentions, and that those negative intentions harm you before they can harm anyone else.
Whenever you feel the urge to act out destructively (we all get these urges sometimes), just intend to embrace love and calmness and simultaneously intend to refuse the violent emotions. If you have to, get up and leave and go somewhere where you can do this for awhile. When you catch yourself and choose instead to do intentional work, you not only prevent violence but heal yourself as well as the other person, and also set an example of peacefulness that others will want to emulate.
4.) Diet And Exercise. There are literally thousands of books out there that detail huge, complicated lists of diets and exercise routines. Unfortunately, the authors of most of these books are not authentic dietary specialists, but simply people who want to capitalize on the insecurities of others; they make proper diet into a 400 page book rather than the three or four paragraphs that suffice for the basics.
The best kind of diet is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, whole milk (yes, you read that right!) and nuts. However, if you need to follow a special diet for medical reasons, follow that diet and ignore this suggestion! Have your main meal at lunch, because that is when our digestive system is most active, and don’t miss out on breakfast either. In fact, you shouldn’t skip any meals, because the body naturally requires breakfast, lunch and dinner every day to maintain energy throughout the day. You should eat only until you feel full; after you feel full, just honor your body’s wish and stop. Also, it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day, and more than three quarters of Americans are chronically dehydrated, despite the fact we’re the richest country in the world! Most people get about a third of the water they should have, so drink about three times as much water as you currently do. It will make a huge difference in how you feel.
Exercise regularly but moderately. Go for walks in the forest, go swimming, and try to be in natural environments as much as possible. Don’t lift weights unless you have a very, very strong constitution and are under the age of forty, and above all, don’t push yourself too hard. If you get really burnt out or very sore, rest and don’t exercise for awhile. About a half hour of exercise a day for most people is ideal; people who run for, say, five hours a day often damage their heart and lungs. The human body simply isn’t meant to endure such activity.
5.) Be Careful About Medicines You Take. There are so many dangerous so-called medicines out there that actually can harm you, and even kill you. Some examples include: penis enlargement pills, breast enlargement creams, Ritalin, paxil, all medications designed to improve sexual performance or increase libido, all stimulants of any kind, and medicines designed to boost mental performance are, almost without exception, extremely dangerous. The FDA approves hundreds of dangerous substances every year; you may remember the Vioxx incident where Vioxx killed 50,000 people with heart attacks before it was taken off the market. You can clearly see you should be extremely careful about all Western medications you take.
Of course, if you must take medications in order to stay alive or prevent life-threatening conditions, then you simply must continue to take them. But medications that aren’t really necessary, like arthritis medications, medications to re-grow hair, and so on and so forth should really be avoided, because overall they tend to be extremely harmful, even deadly. Some of the very worst offenders in this regard are vaccines that are given to infants that contain thimerisol, a highly destructive form of mercury that causes autism, hyperactivity, Attention Deficit Disorder, a tendency toward schizophrenia and bipolar disorder later in life, and just about every neurological and psychological problem you can imagine.
Before vaccines were sterilized with mercury, autism was virtually unheard of, perhaps affecting one out of 10,000 boys. However, as the level of mercury in vaccines continued to rise, so did the rate of autism, which now affects about one in every 100 boys, which is a one hundred fold increase since mercury began to be put in vaccines! I myself contracted autism after I got the DPT or “pertussis” vaccine, which contains thousands of times the legal limit of mercury for infants (and there should be no legal limit anyway, because any amount of mercury is harmful to the brain and body). Mercury also damages the digestive tract, the liver, and the kidneys, and has been linked to virtually every disease affecting those parts of the body. Some scientists estimate that mercury-laden vaccines kill up to 750,000 people a year worldwide! Mercury is also found in flu shots and other vaccines, and although doctors will tell you vaccines don’t contain mercury anymore, tests have shown this is simply a lie – pharmaceutical companies save money by sterilizing their vaccines with mercury, so they continue to use mercury in their vaccines. Likewise, independent tests have shown that vaccines still contain mercury, and that despite what you may have heard, nothing has actually changed.
Therefore, before you take any Western medication whatsoever, you should visit a practitioner of homeopathic medicine or a doctor who provides chelation and other therapies for those who suffer from negative effects of Western medicine to make sure there aren’t any significant dangers in taking the medicine. Make sure this doctor has a very critical and honest view of Western medicine – a litmus test might be asking the doctor if he thinks mercury causes autism. All honest doctors acknowledge the connection between mercury and autism, and those who don’t are either incompetent or fraudulent, or both.
6.) Be Careful About Mental Techniques You Try. There are literally thousands of authors who claim to have developed mental techniques for mental illnesses. Unfortunately, most of these “techniques” lack both clarity and substance. For example, you may have heard of John Gray, the author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. One of the techniques he espouses in his book is pointing your fingers at plants and inanimate objects and directing all your negativity at them. He claims that this will “unload” all our negativity and literally dump it onto what we point our fingers at. But as I mentioned in this guide, emotions actually operate differently than objects– they can’t simply be unloaded like mounds of garbage. You have to cultivate the opposite emotions instead, for intending to “unload” negativity onto anyone or anything else actually creates the negativity you want to destroy. Think of the mind like a field; if you want to have a certain kind of mental fruit, you have to plant the same kind of seed. Loving intentions produce love, and negative intentions produce negative emotions, so if you send negativity somewhere, you first have to create that negativity within yourself first.
Genuine mental techniques are very specific, effective, and don’t cause you to strain, suppress, rationalize or otherwise get stressed. In this sense, valid systems of healing, like Feldenkreis, massage, acupuncture, etc., are really all follow the same principles, namely those of awareness, love, safety, clarity, honesty, and the humble recognition that what may be appropriate for one person might be totally inappropriate for another. In accupuncture, for example, one treatment might greatly help somebody with asthma but on the other hand might actually harm somebody with a very different illness.
Contrast this to John Gray’s technique, which firstly involves no clear intention, isn’t rooted in any scientific healing principles, and claims to be a cure-all for everything from schizophrenia to cancer to heart disease. Gray never tells us how, exactly, pointing your fingers at plants and stones heals you, what you’re supposed to feel if you do it correctly, or even the kind of mindset you’re supposed to have when you do his technique. However, you can always experiment with mental techniques to see if they are valid. For example, try doing John Gray’s technique and point your fingers at a nearby object and intend to channel all your negativity into that object; if you can bear it, do this for a few minutes. How do you feel? If you have the same reaction I did, you’ll feel quite stressed and anxious and agitated after a few minutes of that. The way to determine if a technique is good for you or not is to observe how it makes you feel; nobody can rightly say a technique is good for you if it doesn’t make you feel good or work for you. Remember, a genuine healing technique always admits its limitations, and the healing system in this guide never claims to be a cure for any mental or physical illness – only something to help you improve the quality of your life. And as they say, with all things, if it’s too good to be true (like a technique that claims to be a cure-all for every illness), it probably is.
7.) Work With Intentions For Long Periods Every Day. If you can do so without getting strained, try to work with intentions for at least a half hour a day. Although you initially might not want to sit down and do intentions for a long time, once you begin you’ll quickly want to keep doing them. Intentions work best when done for many minutes at a time; in fact, don’t be afraid to hold a particular intention for even an hour or more! When you hold a particular intention for a long time, you go into the intention deeply and give it a chance to profoundly influence your mind and body. It’s just like when you exercise for twenty minutes nonstop and get a “high” from all the endorphines that your body releases, or when you read a great book for hours and get totally absorbed in the story and sucked into your imagination.
You now have all the tools you need to work with your ego, mind, senses and body in a comprehensive and effective way. Remember not to overwork yourself when it comes to intentions – if you feel “out of gas,” simply stop and rest, and if you get sleepy and want to sleep during an intention, honor your body’s wish and sleep. Don’t be afraid to share this document with other people – the world needs as much love as it can get.