This morning, we woke to about five inches. Snow, that is -- not a huge snowfall, but enough to require shoveling. As I was out this morning, working in the driveway, I noticed something wonderful. When I shoveled, there would be some frozen residue on the concrete that the shovel did not clear away easily. I thought I might need to do some tough scraping to remove the ice. However, as I worked for a while on a patch of the driveway, then paused to look behind me, I noticed that the part I had already done was being further cleared and dried by the sunlight. My efforts were combined with the radiation from the sun - and the driveway was being cleared. As I observed this, I began to see it as a metaphor for how intention works in our lives.
As a Yoga teacher, I often talk about intention. A yoga practice is a reflection of life, and when we wish to create something, we begin with intention. Of course, setting intention is only the first step to manifesting. In my modelling, there are three steps to create something new:
1) Set an intention;
2) Use your energy to make effort in the direction of the intention, and;
3) Let the divine universe work on your behalf; allow the outcome to happen.
In my experience, there are two myths floating around our western culture about the creative process. The first is the traditional idea of do-it-yourself. This myth says that, if you want to create something, you set a goal and then work hard to blast through all of the obstacles that might be in your way to meeting your goal. This is the myth of the self-made man, the lone ranger. My problem with this myth is that it ignores the power of the universe as a partner in creation. It is possible to do many things on our own. However, we are much more empowered when we open up to the infinite creativity of the universe itself.
The second myth is one promulgated by recent popular movies like The Secret. This myth says that all we need do is set an goal, and hold this goal firmly in our thoughts until the outcome we want appears in our reality. While I believe in the power of intention, I have two difficulties with this idea. The first is that thought alone is not always enough to activate the universe towards our intention. Thought is a powerful gift, but not that powerful. We may get lucky and get what we want, or we may not. The intention is the beginning of the process, not the end.
Additionally, I believe we are designed to be actively engaged in manifesting our intentions. Look at your physical body: what a wonderful gift. This gift is given you so that you can DO things. The body is designed to move, to manipulate objects in the world around us, and to engage. We feel better when we are active, moving and working, than when we sit idle and wish for things to happen. Our thoughts are given to us to empower us to do more than just set goals. With our thoughts, we can plan, design and choose actions that will take us closer to our goals.
We are meant to be partners in the creative process. The universe acts with us - and through us - to make things happen in this world. Our actions, when inspired by intention for good, are works of the divine, since each of us is a manifestation of the divine source.
What's more, when we act in the direction of our intention, our actions act as a catalyst for divine action. It is as if our actions demonstrate our commitment to the intention, and the universe responds. The sun shines on the driveway, helping me in my work.
Of course, the outcome is not always exactly as we had planned. The universe has its own plans. Our intentions will manifest in a way that is in alignment with the divine evolution of the universe. We need to allow the process to unfold in it's own way. Our goals and intentions will be realized, and something more, something wonderful will blossom.
Want to create something new in this world? Intention. Action. Allow the unfolding.
And, enjoy the sunshine.