Living out of intent rather than habit is the goal. Living with conscious intent will help our lives. Conscious living is moving beyond Ego. To do this, we need the right tools.
If we are to live from intent, we need to know of the source of our habitual patterns. It means dealing with the full range of our awareness. Intent requires deliberate conscious action while habit comes from unconscious patterns. So, how deal with this?
What Comes 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, affirmations do not remove the underlying habit. And they do not cancel out the power of this unconscious programming.
This is the reason many people do not have success practicing affirmations. You must deal with the more powerful subconscious thought patterns. Deal with the source of the bad habit first. Then, reprogram using affirmations.
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 data.
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. What we need to do is learn how to untie the knots common to our psyche. 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. This is why affirmations may not work. Affirmations are conscious level programing. They are effective if there isn’t any conflicting 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 a bad thing. Proper body mechanics are automatic behavioral patterns which 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 motion in their mind. They picture the right behavior which leads to success. Then they practice the motion. This two-step process works to learn or reinforce the behavior. However, if they have any bad habits. They need to correct the bad habit first. Repetition alone does not change the underlying habit. When under the stress of competition, the bad habit returns. How the bad habit is dealt with depends on a number of factors.
The above example underscores the reason we need to deal with the underlying habit first. Just practicing the right 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 Instead of Habit
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, the bad habit is sometimes not clear. Remember, habit comes from something unconscious. So, we need tools to illuminate the knot. Here are the tools which can help us to 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, there are several tools that can help us accomplish this goal.
1) The Enneagram
The Enneagram Personality Profile can show us thought scripts of our personality and instincts. This is because personality types share the same blind spots and thought patterns.These script predict the content of habitual patterns. So, the Enneagram is an excellent tool find and correct common habitual patterns.
Along with the Enneagram is an exercise known as the Repeating Question. This works best with two people. However, it’s possible to do it on your own. In this case, 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. For more details about this exercise see our article on The power of memories — tools for positive change.
If you learn about the triggers of your habitual nature, you can use them to your benefit. Instead of being ruled by your 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 really a rebranding of the Shamanic Journey. It is a doorway to the Shamanic State of Consciousness (SSC). You can learn more about this process on 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. With the knowledge of the Enneagram and power of this inward quest, you can 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.
The Shamanic journey is one of the safest ways to confront addictive thoughts and behaviors. It allows you to visualize them in a nonthreatening form. Then deal with them directly. The analogy of untying knots in a rope, for instance. This makes living out of intent instead of habit a process. If the knot returns in a future journey, you untie 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. You need your intent to use almost all forms of meditation. See the link here to learn both the seated and moving forms of mindfulness meditation. To prepare your mind for mindfulness it’s important to tend to the garden of your intention. Read more about the garden of your mind at this link.
Moving Beyond Ego Changing Patterns
You’ll find that living from intention is much easier once you deal with the habitual patterns that block your way. In fact, it’s common for people to discover that many things in life become easier. It’s the real magic that puts us back in better control. 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 instead of habit. 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 return gains, mantras and sutras also become more natural and effortless. This is how we create a beautiful life. This is how imagination becomes a reality.
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.
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Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s Book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia