Living out of intent rather than habit is the goal. Living with conscious intent will help our lives. Mindful living is moving beyond Ego. To do this, we need the right tools.
If we are to live from intent, we need to move beyond Ego. To do this, we need to change habitual patterns. Deliberate conscious actions come from engaging intent. In contrast, habits come from unconscious patterns. These unconscious patterns become habitual because they keep the Ego in control. To act out of intent, we must learn to take back control of the driver’s wheel instead of being a passenger in our lives.
What Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?
So, what do you deal with first, intent, or habit? The tendency is to start with intention. It’s common for people to use affirmations to bolster their intent. The idea is to install positive thought scripts to cancel out bad habits. Unfortunately, the use of affirmations will not remove the underlying pattern. And they do not cancel out the power of this unconscious programming.
Many people do not have success practicing affirmations because of the underlying habit that is more powerful. You’ll need to deal with the more powerful subconscious thought patterns. Deal with the source of the bad habit first. Then we can reprogram using affirmations. Many people try to overlay positive affirmations on negative programming.
So, living out of intent instead of habit results from a two-step process. First, fix pre-existing subconscious thought patterns. Then, reprogram the subconscious patterns with healthy programming.
Untying Knots in a Rope
Habitual patterns are like knots in a rope. So, our task is like untangling a knot. If there’s a knot in a rope and you pull on the rope, the knot becomes harder to untangle. We need to learn how to untie the knots that tie up our thinking. This inner work requires the right frame of mind. We must remain nonjudgemental. The strategy of moving beyond Ego is like picking gently at these patterns to lose the knots holding unhealthy scripts.
A habit is an addiction. The longer the pattern is in place, the harder they are to change. Affirmations are conscious level programming; they cannot overcome the more powerful subconscious programming. Subconscious patterns are more powerful than conscious programming. So, attempting to change long-standing habitual patterns with affirmations is like putting a band-aid on a broken arm.
Habitual patterns aren’t always a bad thing. For example, the proper body mechanics for walking are an automatic behavioral pattern. These are the foundation of high performance. Athletes often use a two-step technique repetitive to learn and reinforce optimal motion. First, they practice the correct movement in their mind. They picture the right behavior, which leads to success. Then they practice the action.
The two-step process above works to learn or reinforce the behavior. You should bad habit first. Delete the harmful thought scripts first. Then add the thought scripts after you remove the defective programming. Otherwise, repeating affirmations will not change the underlying habit. When under the stress of competition, the bad habit returns. How the bad habit is dealt with depends on several factors.
The above example underscores why we need to deal with the underlying habit first. Practicing the proper motion does not erase the underlying, often stronger habit. The longer the bad habit has been in force, the harder they are to change.
Living Out of Intent
In the above analogy, the habit is the knot. The habit is the thing causing the knot. Pulling on a rope with a knot makes the knot harder to untie. An affirmation works like pulling on the rope. It doesn’t remove the knot. Most of the time, it makes the knot harder to untie.
So, we don’t want to use force. First, we need to find the knot. The knot, or the bad habit, is sometimes not clear. Remember, habitual thinking patterns come from the subconscious. So, we need tools to illuminate the knot at this level. Once we can see the entanglement, we can remove it. Here are the tools which can help us with this. If we are to begin living out of intent, we need to deal with our habitual thinking patterns.
We don’t cut the rope. That would cause more problems. Instead, we learn to use our habitual nature to create positive behaviors. Thankfully, we have some tools to help us accomplish this goal.
1) The Enneagram
The Enneagram Personality Profile can show us thought scripts of our personality and instincts. These scripts show us the content of our habitual patterns. The Enneagram is an excellent tool to find and help us remove harmful scripts.
Along with the Enneagram is an exercise known as the Repeating Question. It works best with two people. However, it’s possible to do it on your own. Here, you must write or record all your responses. It’s best to work with a partner who will ask the repeating question. This exercise gets beyond the superficial answers. To find out more about this exercise, see our article on The power of memories — tools for positive change.
Learning about our habitual nature enables us to use them for our benefit. Instead of being ruled by nature, you use its power to achieve positive things. Building good habits from your habitual nature is a practical approach for another time.
2) Guided Meditation
Guided meditation is a rebranding of the Shamanic Journey. It is a doorway to the Shamanic State of Consciousness (SSC). You can learn more about this process in the article guided meditation — rebranding the Shamanic Journey. This process will enable you to see the cause of the habitual pattern.
A skilled guide can help you with this, but you can also undertake this journey on your own. The knowledge we gain from inner work will empower us to untie the knots. You may need to return several times because these patterns can be stubborn. Regular use of this process will help you identify and untie the knots that give power to habitual patterns.
Shamanic Journey is one of the safest ways to confront addictive thoughts and behaviors. It allows you to visualize them in a non-threatening form. Then deal with them directly. The analogy of untying knots in a rope, for instance. When we untie these knots, living out of intent becomes possible. If the knot returns in a future journey, you undo it again. You keep doing it until the rope remains the way you intend it. It’s a way of “moving beyond Ego” by using the power of imagination. It works.
3) Mindfulness Meditation
The practice of mindfulness meditation techniques brings our awareness online with our intent. It’s important to realize intention requires attention—intention like a garden. Our intention is an important ingredient in almost all forms of meditation. See the link here to learn both the seated and moving forms of mindfulness meditation. Your mind is like a garden that needs proper care and attention to give us a harvest of good fruit. Read more about the garden of your mind at this link.
Moving Beyond Ego Means Changing Patterns
You’ll find that living from intention is much easier once you deal with the habitual patterns that block your way. It’s common for people to discover that many things become easier. It’s the one that puts us back in control of the wheel, instead of just being a passenger in our lives. Living with a conscious purpose is our natural state of awareness. It enables us to be present, living in the moment because we are “living out of intent.”
In turn, this has a positive effect on our overall health and wellness. We are better able to handle stressful situations. Our inner work will also progress. Affirmations will return positive gains. Mantras and sutras also become more natural and effortless. We can use them to create a beautiful life. Imagination becomes a reality when we can engage our intuitive and analytical powers of the mind.
Living with conscious intent rather than habit will benefit our overall health and wellness. But to do this, we need to deal with our habitual patterns. Now you have the tools to deal with this.
“Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen Hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.” ― Mary Anne Radmacher
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(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia