You can’t act without intention

Intention organises your system in a particular direction, telling your supercomputer what’s important. Without intention you’d be pushed around by the currents of life.

That said, intention also sets up a trap that we can easily fall into. I want to teach you how to avoid that trap.

Take that tennis ball. In order for your body to move, you need to intend to hit it, otherwise it will just fly past you as you stand motionless.

However, the ‘quality’ of your intention really matters. If you force it too hard then you trigger self-interference. Your inner monologue will start trying to organise your legs and arms, all the while totally suppressing the supercomputer that ‘just does it’.

This sets up a paradox. How do you want something without wanting it so much that you trip over yourself? You set your intention and then let go of any need to achieve it. That ‘need’ is a kind of forcing that triggers self-interference. It’s the manifestation of your inner monologue not trusting your supercomputer to just hit the ball.

In my early Alexander Technique lessons, my teacher and I would spend entire lessons just playing catch. Like most people, I had been conditioned to care about catching the ball. I would beat myself up if I dropped it. It was afraid that I would look silly. I couldn’t stop myself from trying to catch the ball.

What I learned in lessons was that if I decided/intended to catch the ball, but at the same time was also perfectly okay with not catching it, then my hand would move out and catch the ball flawlessly. I wasn’t trying to second guess where to put my hand, I didn’t even have to break eye contact with my teacher to look at the ball, my supercomputer just did it.

So let me leave you with this. Where in life might you be ‘intending too hard’? See what it’s like to set the intention and then let go of any caring associated with the outcome.*

*This line of thinking may be uncomfortable for some people. That’s fine, just notice that you don’t like it. I only ask that you suspend disbelief for long enough to explore it.

Michael Ashcroft

Michael Ashcroft


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