The Most Dangerous Moment of My Life
By Amar Gressel
The most dangerous moment of my life is the moment when I wake up in the morning. This is the moment when I set my intention. Deep within, my intention never wavers. It’s always the same. But somehow, right at that moment when I’m waking up, my mind can take over and my intention can go astray.
Have you ever walked into a glass door? Or perhaps stood up and bumped your head because you didn’t realize something was above you?
I walked into a glass door once when I was twelve, and it completely floored me. I was on the ground entirely laid out; my whole body hurt. If you watch YouTube videos you can see what this looks like. People break doors, or fall down, or hold their heads in pain… We have so little awareness of how much strength exists in our stride.
Have you ever watched a baby learn to crawl?
It’s an intense amount of effort. They are gasping for air and violently throwing themselves forward. They know they can move, but they can’t quite figure out how and while they do it’s exhausting them. Their intention is strong.
After we’ve learned how to do a task, the amount of effort required to perform it lessens; however, the intention required to accomplish the task does not.
We are walking with intention every moment of every day of our lives.
So you all must be wondering, then, how exactly do we set our intentions?
Generally, it is as simple as thinking about it.
When I studied Kung Fu, we practiced intention all the time. We had standing punching bags, just like the ones that hang on chains, except these bags had large black bases filled with water. When you punched them, they rocked back, but they always stayed up because of the gallons of water in the base. My teacher would instruct us to “Kick the standing punching bag over”. We would try and try. It would wobble but not fall over. “Kick through the bag, aim for the other side”. One kick later and it would be on the mat.
Let a small kid or a friend try to do this exercise with you. You hold out your arm straight, curl your hand into a fist, flex all your muscles, and don’t let them bend it. A strong friend will be able to force your elbow to bend.
Now try it this way. Hold your hand out straight, point your fingers at the wall. Imagine energy flowing through your fingers, as if you are stretching towards the wall, trying to touch it while staying in place. You will notice a difference. This experiment demonstrates the power of intention in a physical form.
Intention should not be confused with effort. Effort is energy that we put into something, the amount of energy we put into our task. Intention is the attitude we have. It’s our desire. It’s what we want to happen.
Let’s play a game. I type something in bold letters and you do whatever I say.
Stand up, last time I promise
TRY to sit down.
What’s going on? Are you stuck?
You can’t really try to sit down. You are either sitting or you aren’t. So what does it mean to try something? It means that we are setting an intention for a task that we are unsure if we can accomplish. If you were an infant and never sat down before, then you could try to sit. But since you know exactly how to sit down, trying to sit down doesn’t make sense. However whether you are an infant who has never sat or an adult who has sat countless times, the intention to sit is the same.
Do you see how impossible it is to walk without intention? Every step we take is imbued with intention; without it we couldn’t move.
Waking up just happens. One moment we are asleep; the next moment we are awake. My favorite types of mornings are the ones when I wake up and I am either lazy in bed (and had planned to be) or excited for everything that is going to come. Sadly, these are not the norm, and I often awake with the thought “Is it morning already?”
I have a strong tendency to be depressed so I lay in bed a lot. One of my best tools to overcome this is to set my intention. Years ago, I heard the following advice from a revered monk (paraphrased below)
“When you wake up early in the morning and you want to meditate or pray, your mind will try to trick you. It will invent countless reasons why you should stay in bed. You must overcome this. One solution is to scream into your mind ‘Get up! Get up! Move, get out of bed, go to your prayers! Take your bath! Go! Go! Go!’ Be ferocious with the mind and defeat it.”
For me this works, I often start my morning screaming in my head, shouting at myself “go go go.” In order to defeat my OCD, I shout, “It’s OK (the towel doesn’t need to be folded perfectly) keep going, keep going!”
This is how I can set my intention for the day. I force myself to act out what I believe is the most important thing to do. In the same way, before I go to sleep, I set my intention. I write in my journal, and I chant my mantra.
Every great person, every person who has changed this world has had a strong intention. Without intention we are afloat, adrift on the great sea of life. With a strong intention though, we hurtle toward our goals. The most important thing is to have an intention. Even though intention in itself is not effort, without intention we cannot make any effort.
In the deepest recesses of my heart, my intention never changes. It is always for God. It is always that somehow, I want my life to be worthwhile. Somehow my life should do one small good thing for this world. Let the sum total of my actions on this earth be positive.
But I don’t live my daily life with that intention. I connect with that in deep prayer, in emotional moments, in times of need or distress. I don’t remember that when I’m brushing my teeth.
This is spiritual life. Constant remembrance. Remember your intention. Remember why you were born.
Walking with intention?
Walking with the intention that we want to have?
There is only one way. Constant practice. It will be painful. It won’t be easy. But we have to keep trying and trying, until it becomes effortless.
The intention will never change. We just need to remember it.
Staying the course of a principled path
isn’t always easy – just ask me – but it’s worth it.
Although I love you, you might not always understand
my expression of it – but trust me
– I do.
Written for Walking With Intention. Leave a comment and let Amar know what you felt about his take on the subject.
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