The Important of Intention: Separating Fantasy from Reality
12 Apr 2007
Intention is the first step toward doing; what can we do without intending to do it? If you tell yourself "I intend to study Tai Chi" or "I intend to start practicing Tai Chi at home between classes", that is not true intention.
True intention actually leads to doing: it is a commitment to yourself, not wishful thinking. The Chinese word for intention is yi, and it is such a central concept that the discipline of yi chuan has grown up around it.
Test your intention for self-honesty. Create a list of things you "intend" to do. Which are daydreams, and which are real? Test each item for "realness" by asking yourself, am I ready to start doing this right now? Or if not now, can I identify the obstructions and when I can commit to beginning? You will discover that few if any of your items meet this "reality" requirement.
Examining the list, you may have difficulty accepting the idea that you have no real intention of doing some of them. Fine. You can change the reality of this intention by acting on it. You make your intention real by doing it.
Within the practice of Tai Chi, we can take the idea of intention even further. You can play at Tai Chi by waving your arms around and moving in ways generally similar to your teacher - that's playing without real intention. Or you can study the details of Tai Chi and break through to deeper and deeper levels of understanding and accomplishment, learning to understanding how our internal actions affects our external structure. Every movement is inspired by awareness and introspection, and hence the better application of Tai Chi principles. That is the exercise of true intention in Tai Chi.
"I intend to be nicer to my spouse." Fine. Be nicer. "I intend to be more diligent in my job." Fine. Work harder. "I intend to retire to a South Pacific island at the age of 32." Fine, BUT: that sounds more like wishful thinking. If it is not, make a checklist of steps required to achieve this goal, and identify when and how you will start down that path. That is real intention. If you are honest with yourself as you separate your fantasies from your true intentions, you find it easier to be at peace with your life.