When building with wood, I spent years trying to figure everything out by myself before it finally occurred to me that a book might be helpful. I found one with lots of pretty pictures and I turned to the section on saws. I was curious to see what kind of advice a book might offer beyond pushing and pulling the saw back and forth. There I came across an unexpected piece of advice: Think the saw down the line.
Sure, the book discussed examining the teeth of the saw, holding it at the right angle, keeping your elbow in close to your side, and other practical stuff. But here was this oddly magical recommendation in a book on wood. The writer went on to explain that generations of woodworkers have done this, and that he was passing it on because it just plain works. The idea is, rather than focusing on manipulating the saw, you focus on the line and use your intention to will the saw to follow it.
It might have sounded crazier if I hadn’t heard of a similar approach to golf. While not exactly known as a sport dominated by new agey thinkers, many golfers do step into woo-woo territory if they think it will help their game. The most common of such practices is visualizing the event as one would like it to go – for instance, a smooth swing, hitting the ball just right, the ball soaring through the air, landing on the green, and rolling into the hole.
Athletes now utilize this technique in virtually every sport, from gymnastics to skeeball. There are even studies showing that “practicing” musical instruments through intention alone (imagining oneself playing piano, for example) leads to measurable improvements in skill. And yet, I would guess that the deliberate application of intention as a success strategy (outside of sports) isn’t a practice that has made it into most people’s daily lives.
If it works on balls and saws, why not use it to make a million dollars or to find a fulfilling relationship? Here are some recommendations for translating this practice to life-creation:
- Clarify. The arc of a ball from golf club to hole is simple to visualize. The arc from, say, a new business idea to a flourishing company is less simple. This makes it harder to visualize and therefore more difficult to grease the rails with intention. You can improve your chances by developing a very clear intention statement using positive language, such as “My business will be earning $100k per month by April 2024.” You can also consider the greater arc as a dot-to-dot with numerous smaller achievements along the way, and create a “sub-intention” for each. Visualizing these shorter distances may be more manageable.
- Potentiate. You can check your intention statement for potency by saying it out loud (to yourself or a friend). How does it feel? Is there a word that needs tweaking? Is it too vague? Or does it fill you with a charge of inspiration? Keep modifying until it feels really good.
- Scribe. Write down your intention statement to make it more real. Use a nice pen and a nice piece of paper. Take your time to get it right.
- Activate. Especially for big goals, you can add potency by enacting your intention in a special way. Consider this process as a starting point: Get into a calm clear mind space, light a candle, state that this ritual is to activate and amplify this intention, and ask for the guidance and support of the universe. As you focus on your intention statement, try to get as much of your whole self on board with it. Imagine that you are making this intention not just with your voice and your mind, but with your heart, with your gut, with every cell and every atom of your being. Imagine all parts of you are aligned in proclaiming this. Let go of any resistance. Thank the universe for hearing and responding. One of my favorite additions to this process is to use a piece of our Intention Paper, writing the intention on it and burning it to transform it from matter to energy and send it out into the world.
- Sustain. In the case of throwing a dart toward a bullseye, you’re ideally holding an intention from the moment you start thinking about it until the dart hits something. That’s not a very long time. Making a million dollars will probably take a bit longer. It’s not always possible to continually hold an intention from conception to fruition, but do whatever you can to keep yourself conscious of what you’re creating. At the least, re-read your intention statement daily. Even better, visualize its actualization for five minutes a day. Even better, feel how you’re going to feel when you’re at the destination.
- Act. When you intend a golf ball to go into a hole, it’s helped along tremendously by your hitting the ball in the direction of the hole. With intention alone, it still might get there eventually, but it’s probably not a common occurrence – especially for someone who isn’t especially practiced in the art of conscious intentioning. The same goes for using intention toward life goals. Don’t put all your eggs in the intention basket, but do maximize the potential of this avenue while also taking physical steps to put yourself out there where opportunities happen.
- Notice and Receive. A vital part of effective intentioning is noticing the good things that come to you and receiving them wholeheartedly. This single step can make more difference in your life than all the others.
Whereas we often use only step six (taking physical action), practicing the other six can greatly enhance our ability to shape life as we desire. Beyond whatever tangible gains this approach might produce, I feel there are wonderful intangible benefits as well. Ultimately it builds self-trust, promotes gratitude, helps us recognize of the potent role our perception plays in our quality of life, and reminds us that choice is always available.