Tomorrow night we will finish our exploration of the Compassion connection between intentions and motivations. We will look at the benefits of setting/resetting intentions and becoming aware of the motivations behind our actions.
Dr. Jinpa theorizes that framing one’s day/week around intention and dedication creates a more purposeful, conscious life. I agree! When I let go of having to work day and night to achieve some behavior/characteristic such as being “nicer”, I was able to experience myself as “nice”. An intention takes away the demand, the expectation and the judgment around how I think I should be and replaces it with energy more akin to an earnest desire, a prompting, an aspiration. An intention does not come from a clinging place but rather a place of trust, faith, confidence or courage. It allows for limitations and inherently recognizes that we always start, or start again, wherever we are in the moment.
We had a great discussion last week about how effort fits into all this and the second half of Chapter 4 helped bring some clarity for me. If we distinguish the words “effort” and “motivation” we can get a better since of how setting/resetting intentions can support a strong practice and help us live closer to the values we cherish. The word “effort” denotes will power or force. It creates a sense of making some happen. Motivation, however, is effortless primarily because it is unconscious, behind the scene. Yet motivation is what actually controls our actions. An example would be, when I try to make myself practice everyday because I thought it will help me be calmer. If my motivation is to spend my limited free time watching t.v. or hanging out with my friends – no amount of effort will make me sit. I will simply forget to sit, convince myself I just don’t have time or begin to doubt the importance of sitting altogether. It is our motivation that guides our actions, not how much effort we apply.
When we set and reset intentions, we influence our motivation. This influence is effortless. When our motivation becomes more aligned with our intentions our actions become effortless. And when we set our intentions for the benefit of others – actions such as kindness, compassion, joy, and peace become effortless as well.