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On the Power of Intention

We are so used to hearing it at the beginning of a yoga class: “Set your intention.” But I wonder, how many of really, really believe that this intenion will manifest. For if we really believed in the power of manifestation, would we not all be sat there asking for a taste of unity consciousness or perhaps to win the lottery, depending on your personal preference?

To be honest, I never thought that much about it; I set my intention and did the class. I kind of believed that somewhere I had planted a seed but ask me at the end of the week what my intention was as I may well have forgotten. I believed in the power of intention but I don’t think that I really, really believed, you know?

That was, until an incident earlier this year. During a retreat, just before a practice known to heighten senses and allow the mind to experience that which is well outside of our usual manifest reality, we were asked to create an intention. I felt ready and so with a slight sense of “come on then, show me what you got,”  I said to myself “Reveal yourself to me.” 

Simple enough.

Or so I thought.

So, let’s think this through; I was talking to shakti herself, the creative energy of the universe, the energy which creates volcanoes and earthquakes, the creative force which brings forth life and that which dissolves it to. And I asked her to reveal herself to me ? What was I thinking?

I do not want to discuss the experience that followed, it is private, sacred and I’m not sure that you would even believe me if I told you about it. But let me draw a parallel with the Bhagavad Gita when Arjuna asks Krishna to reveal himself in his ultimate universal form. What Arjuna sees is both wondrous: “A limitless god with faces on all sides” and somewhat terrifying: “Seeing your marvelous and terrible form, the three worlds are trembling with fear.” There is far more verse dedicated to this and I implore you to read it as one gets the feeling that even the written description doesn’t begin to describe the magnitude of what he sees. (I know the feeling Arjuna!) Upon seeing Arjuna’s fright, Krishna returns to his human form. But Arjuna cannot undo what he has seen. 

Now, image that Krishna reveals himself to me in his ultimate (and slightly terrifying) form but for 20 hours straight. No running, no hiding, no sleep just a constant barrage of shakti saying “well, you did ask me” and you’re starting to understand my experience.

As part of the retreat, the following evening this same practice is repeated. Same setting, same, teachers, same practice. BUT, I change my intention and this night I tell her” OK, you have my respect. Now please, be gentle with me.” And guess what – she was!

The experience that I have recounted above has taught me so much, most of which I am still unravelling. But one of the biggest teachings was the power of intention. I got exactly what I asked for. My ego thought I was ready for the experience but I was not, in actual fact, I was about a million miles away from being ready. But she didn’t care, she gave it to me anyway. 

And so it is that I feel compelled to pass on two pieces of advice:

What you ask for, you will receive. And yes, you can ask for that which seems impossible because, believe me, the boundaries of possibly are much broader than you think.

But, be careful what you ask for. We are mostly ruled by the ego-mind. And it likes to make up stories about our personal evolution which are not always congruent with reality. Think long and hard before setting your intention my friends – who is creating the intention, why are they creating them and most of all, are you ready for the manifestation?

“All that we are is a result of what we have thought.” – The Buddha

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