Transforming Weeds to Seeds... Taking Responsibilty for Your Intentions
What does it mean to take responsibility for your intentions? After listening to Jay Shetty speak about his practical approach of setting intention on the latest episode of Under the Skin*, I began thinking about my own intentions, both the ones I am aware of, and the ones I am not.
A question that keeps coming up for me in my own meditations is WHY?
Big whys, small whys, and everything in between. Maybe I am thinking it because I am hearing it all around me? I am a mother of two amazingly and sometimes infuriatingly curious toddlers. My 3 year old is asking me WHY all of the time. I think sometimes I find it infuriating because I don’t have an answer for him and it’s hard for me to admit to myself that I don’t know why. His questions are gentle reminders that sometimes I am out of touch with why and have moved into aimless doing. He asks these questions at times when it may not be convenient. And this is eye opening for me, if not uncomfortable.
If I don’t know why I am doing something, then WHY AM I DOING IT?
Literally, I have to ask myself the question first before I can answer it. My son asking me WHY is an invitation to journey through the cascading waterfall of mystery flowing over internal caverns holding my deepest wisdom and truths. I have to dive in and through the fluid curtain to discover the answers to why I do the things I do. I have to be willing to swim in the dark, deep pools of my subconscious and explore the source of the thought currents swirling in my mind and being.
there is ALWAYS an intention, whether or not you are aware of it…
I think, in the past, I have avoided asking myself WHY because I was afraid of the answers. I have not been in the practice of setting intention for very long, which means that often, the intentions behind my actions have been foggy, obscure, not immediately evident, even to me. Why do I work with the human body? Why do I agree to take appointments 6 days a week? Why do I answer texts, emails, messages at all hours of the day and night? Why am I married? Why am I parenting? Why did I choose to strike out and start my own business in a sea of entrepreneurs treading water on the torrential tides of new business, just trying to keep my head above water? Why do I choose the things I choose?
The answers are all crystallizing, becoming clearer every day. Sometimes, they are simple, and sometimes not so simple. I have noticed that the more I step into community, away from isolation, and share my journey with others, I find it easier to see and feel intention in my interactions. When I listen to people talk about their WHY, it helps me process through my own intentions. There is a part of this process that seems to be helped by sharing. The more I share, the more I realize I am not alone. The less alone I feel, the more I connected I feel to others and I become less judgemental of myself, and therefore, more willing to look at the areas of my mind and heart that I may have neglected. This process helps me get in touch with my intentions.
In his discussion of setting intention, Jay talks about categorizing his intentions as
seeds or weeds…
If the intention at the core of my actions is for the sake of personal wealth alone, vanity, pride, recognition, applause, momentary pleasure, and attention for the sake of attention, I recognize these as weeds in the garden of my life. Weeds that rapidly overtake my internal landscape, choking out new life as their roots take hold, lustily requiring more and more of what I have to give without contributing sustainable structure to my soil, stripping me bare, leaving me depleted, exhausted, and unable to continue growing.
It feels out of alignment with what I teach and study and embrace as truth… which is to move toward intentions of healing, gratitude, connection, intrinsic wealth and fulfillment, profound joy, and peace. These are the Seeds of Intention I want to plant and grow more of in my life. Sprouting into seedlings of trust, growing the thick, strong foundational roots of love and kindness that will nourish a structure capable of bending with the winds of change, growing branches that give me the shade of peace and fruit of abundance.
Recognize where your garden needs some weeding.
Be mindful of where you can transform a weed into a seed. I found this thought very freeing. Jay mentions transforming intentions and all of a sudden, I was sighing with relief. If I recognized that I am doing something for a reason I do NOT like, but I am not in a position to just stop doing that thing I am no longer happy about doing, I can simply shift my WHY. He gives the example of quitting our jobs to pursue our passions. Let me give you a personal example so you can have a clear picture in your mind of this concept at work:
When I first started my massage therapy practice, I had no boundaries around how many appointments I would take in a day. I would take 7-8 hours of hands-on, bone-deep tissue massage daily. My ego, which has been trying to protect me for years, led me to believe that this was because of my insane work ethic, because I was the very best and people NEEDED me, because it would keep my body in great shape and looking good. Over the years, I kept on taking massage appointments without EVER thinking to ask myself how many massages I was capable of giving 100% of my energy to, or how many hours I would like to do so I didn’t burn out. I thought that if I was great, people would come back. People kept coming back, so they must be getting what they need. No need to slow down because that meant less money which for me represented less stability, less ability to buy an environment that looked good. I was well down the materialistic path happiness without even knowing I had chosen that road. That belief that happiness can be found externally in the world around us. These were my personal needs and insecurities cleverly disguised as service and giving. They hid themselves well and manifested as an unending need to keep booking more people. When I started to feel overwhelmed, I would change of my massage room a little, buy some new supplies, maybe take a weekend course, just to come back to the room and do the same thing day after day. I slowly started to understand the limitations of these hidden intentions when I became pregnant. Cliché, right? My future babies made me start thinking about, well, the future. How long could I keep going like this? All of a sudden, I was less concerned with being important, what people saw when they saw me, less concerned with fixing people, with earning money as a means to appear happy. I started to realize my very limited understanding of the world and what it means to be alive when I chose to start asking myself why and sitting with the uncomfortable answer instead of numbing myself to it. This made me feel vulnerable and helped me start to see my ego. When I started to recognize my ego, I became very uncomfortable, like it was this other person trying to hide something really important from my awareness. I began to work on my judgemental thoughts both inward and outward. I started asking myself WHY? Why do I care so much about being better than everyone else? Why do I bother judging other people and their choices, their journeys? Is it because I am fearful of what they think of me or is it really because I am not happy with my own choices? What was motivating me quickly revealed itself to be fear and insecurity, rooted in self-judgement, cleverly masked by my ego as drive, ambition, and work ethic.
WEEDS all over my damn garden, choking out all of the beautiful plants I was working so hard to keep alive, wrapping their roots around my heart and squeezing me from the inside.
It was time for some spiritual Round-Up…
Transforming my weeds took a willingness to see them for what they are… I had to be honest with myself about my WHY. This took some gentle, but diligent work at accepting myself, loving myself, be grateful for what my previous intentions had brought me (this moment), and a willingness to say to myself, and to others that I would be setting new intentions, moving forward, and growing so I could continue to serve. I had to take responsibility for my intentions, I had to start planting some seeds. (On a separate, but related note, I recommend reading any of Gabby Bernstein’s and Brené Brown’s books to help you begin or continue a journey of self-acceptance and love. These concepts are essential to releasing judgement patterns that can contribute to more weeds, rather than seeds. The links will take you to their sites. I am not affiliated with them, nor do I make any profit from you following these links. I simply love their writing and they have been instrumental in my own personal growth.)
Seeds of peace after acknowledging that I am not capable of fixing people, but rather providing space for them to get in touch with their bodies, determine for themselves what they need, and participate in their own healing.
Seeds of empowerment when I recognized I am truly capable of respecting my own limitations, and by recognizing my limitations, I empower myself to focus my energy on what I can accomplish when I set healthy boundaries around my limitations.
Seeds of grace when I misstep or fall out of alignment and back into the safety of my ego. Seeds of connection when I share my journey with anyone who feels like they are alone in theirs.
Seeds of hope, love, acceptance, and abundance when I see myself for the human I am, for the energy I carry with me. My community doesn’t need ME, but it needs what I am building with intention.
I believe there is so much more to tackle when it comes to putting this practice into place. Pop back over next week as I continue to explore the practical side of setting intentions and steps to make it a daily practice. However, for today, I think leaving you with this thought will be a great way to summarize the intention of this post:
Whatever you’re doing, define for yourself why you are doing it. Take responsibility for setting your intentions. Know that if you do not define your WHY, someone else often will.
*Under the Skin is a science meets modern spirituality podcast hosted by Russell Brand.