Sunday morning, I got up, threw on a sports bra, wiped the smeared mascara off of my face, brushed my teeth, brushed my hair, put on lip gloss over last night's 12-hour lipstick and drove to Target. To state what might be already glaringly obvious - I was not my most put-together self. But that didn't matter. I was on a mission: I was going to make an Intention Board.
What's an Intention Board? Well, funny you should ask, because, if you take a gander down below, there she is...
That beautiful creation is My Intention Board. A step further than a vision board, it's an explicitly stated list of all of the things that I intend to give my heart and energy to over the coming weeks, months and years. This is my contract with spirit and with myself. Its more than things I want, wish for, and work toward. It's a physical expression of my mind's, heart's, and soul's energetic shift in trajectory with the objective of manifesting these things into reality with the love and support of spirit. This is more than just a list of goals. This is my manifesto.
Why did I feel the call to do this? Well, for starters, if you are on a journey to live a more meaningful, more enriched, and more connected life, I can honestly tell you that the most fundamental element and the greatest tool you will ever have in your toolbox is intention. And when I say "intention," I don't mean it like, "I intended to call you last night" or "It's my intention to go to the grocery store today." In this context, "intention" is defined as a spiritual agreement made in conjunction with a personal physical, emotional, mental, and energetic shift for the purpose of manifesting a specific outcome that is in alignment with your own personal integrity and your highest good. And it is everything. There is no other way to state it. It's the road map, the compass, the north star that shows you the way. It is the anchor, the ballast, and the rudder that keeps you on course. It is the one thing that will keep you from drifting aimlessly, randomly floating through life with a feeling of no control and no clear path. It is the bedrock in which good work, fulfilling relationships, and wholehearted living take root and thrive. To live without it is to live a reactive life, bouncing from relationship to relationship, job to job, project to project, teacher to teacher, in an effort to find meaning and direction. True Intention is what enables you to see that the meaning and direction you've been searching for has always and will always be found within the rich pulpiness of your own beating heart. And the most important thing about Intention is that, even in the darkest hours when you feel defeated and feel like giving up and want to just crawl in a hole, it keeps on moving forward. It never stops, it never gives up, it never changes course unless that is in line with your highest good.
How do I know this? I know this because I spent a large majority of my life searching for answers in every place and every person under the sun except within myself. And then it hit me - in order to find my true path, I must be shown the way by someone who knows me, really knows me - can see me through all of the bullshit and excuses, all the way down to the marrow. The only person that fit that description was me. But in order to find my way, I had to decide where, in my heart of hearts, that I wanted to go and then, like setting a destination in my GPS, I set my course - and that's intention. But intentional thoughts and ideas are one thing. Left floating around in your head, they're merely conceptual. In order for them to become fully realized, they need to be clearly and thoughtfully stated, fully felt, and physically expressed. Creating an Intention Board accomplishes all of the above.
So, here's how to create your own Intention Board:
The first step I recommend in creating an Intention Board is to do a brief meditative exercise. You may have one of your own that you like to do. However, I recommend giving this one a whirl (and I will be recording this, so check back soon!):
Begin by closing your eyes, placing your feet flat on the floor, and checking in with yourself. Ask yourself, where's your mind, your heart, your body, and your spirit? Take a moment and work to get a clear read. Take note of any emotions you may be feeling or any physical sensations that you may be experiencing. Now breathe deeply - in through your nose for three counts, hold for three counts, exhale out through your mouth for three counts. Repeat three times. Now, continuing to breathe, imagine roots sprouting from the arches of your feet and growing deep, down into the cool, dark earth, stretching down toward the Earth's core. Let them stretch down, feel the cool earth with your strongly, anchored roots. Continue to breathe... Now imagine water - gentle, refreshing water - trickling down over your head, starting at the crown, and rinsing down over your face, then to your neck and shoulders, down over your chest and arms, down your upper torso to your abdomen, to your thighs and buttocks, over your knees to your calves, and down to your feet and then down into those roots stretching down into the soil beneath you. And as that water trickles down, release - release any tension, anxiety, hurt, fear, anger, resentment - anything that does not serve you in this exercise - release it into the water as it runs over your skin. Feel the water rinse it from you and carry it down into the soil, where it can be grounded and healed. Continue this exercise until you feel any tension release and calm wash over you. Once you feel the calm set in, continue to breathe deeply and imagine the sun overhead, its loving rays drying and warming you. Feel the sun on your skin and the light around you getting brighter and brighter. As the light grows brighter and brighter, imagine that there is a chord, like a guitar string running through the middle of your body. Now picture something that makes you immensely happy - could be a loved one, or an animal, playing music, or painting. But imagine something that just fills you up with light and puts the most incredible smile in your heart. Hold that thought for a moment and just let it fill you up. Now, picture plucking that imaginary chord that's running through the center of your body. You may hear a lovely sound or your may feel a sense of harmonious vibration, within you - that's your intuition and that's what it will feel like when your intuition is telling you that something is right, true, and aligned with your highest good. Sit with that for a moment. Let that wonderful feeling - that beautiful sound or vibration - wash over you and sink into your bones. Memorize that sound, that feeling. Strike that chord several times and allow the vibrations to just resonate through you until it's as familiar to you as the sound of your own voice. Give yourself a good minute or two just to soak that in. Then, once you feel comfortable, settle back into your body, wiggle your toes, and when you're ready, open your eyes.
What we just did in that exercise puts you in touch with your intuition. That sound/vibration/feeling is your intuitive response and will help you in creating your intention board as it will help you to clearly understand if the intention you've articulated is aligned with your personal integrity and highest good. When you first state an intention, take a moment and see how it registers in your body. Do you experience that same sound/vibration/feeling as you did during the meditation? If not, tweak it. Tune it like you would tune a guitar until the response to your stated in intention matches that feeling (a.k.a. your positive intuitive response). Play with the words and concepts until the statement you've crafted rings true in your gut and in your heart. Once it does, you can commit it to paper (or surface of your choice).
As you go through this process of creating an Intention Board, the mind, heart, body, and spirit come together to clearly articulate your true intention to yourself and to the universe. Putting a creative spin on it - using different colors or doodling - engages the right brain. Crafting your intentions into sentences engages the left brain. Taking the words in, feeling these intentions in your gut and in your heart engages your intuition, your emotions, and your energetic body. And your Intention Board doesn't have to be just words - you can add pictures if you feel guided, but the words need to be there - all the words - whatever is necessary to align them in harmony with your positive intuitive response.
And there are no rules to the intentions that you craft. They can be long-term or short-term. They can be about anything: your job, your art, your home, your finances, places you want to go, the type of friend or partner you intend to be. Again, your intuition is your guide. Use it and write what's in your heart. And your "board" can be whatever you make it - use whatever materials that speak to you. There are no real rules, except these:
1. Every True Intention starts and ends with you - it has to be about you, of you, for you and can be dependent upon
no one else but you.
2. A true Intention crafted in alignment with your truest integrity and highest good can only be crafted from love.
3. State your intention in the present tense - not as something that will be, but as something that already IS.
4. As intention is the first step in manifesting, you must be open and willing to receive. So, the final "rule" is to end your list of
intentions with one that states your willingness to receive with an open, loving, and grateful heart.
5. Lastly (and perhaps hardest of all), detach from the outcome. Trust in the universe and its ability to manage all of the
details that will make these intentions a reality. But, also, prepare yourself for the possibility that a) the universe will bring
your intention to fruition, b) it may be in bigger ways than you ever imagined, and c) it may not look like what you
Once you've created your Intention Board, stand back and appreciate it. Savor it. Bask in it. It was created from your heart and for your heart and represents a sacred agreement or contract with spirit and with yourself. Read it out loud and from your gut with your full, present voice - ENGAGE THAT THROAT CHAKRA! Then put it in a place where you can see it every day. Read it when you get up in the morning and before you go to bed. Let it become your compass, your ballast, the wind in your sails. And then stand back and be willing to receive the opportunity and support that only spirit can provide. And then watch the magic unfold.
Unused creativity is not benign.
Let's read that one again and then let it sit for a second and sink in: Unused creativity is not benign.
Whoa. The implication of that statement is powerful and provocative. And if you're a creative person - and believe me when I tell you that, even if you think you're not, YOU ARE - that statement might freeze you right in your tracks.
Now, while I've got your attention, let me first say that, though I wish I could take credit for such wisdom, that diamond of a concept did not originate with me. And, in fact, it's not just a concept. It's a truth - a verifiable and indisputable fact - supported by data that was collected and first presented to the world by brilliant sociology researcher and best-selling author, Brene Brown. Brene has written several books including the smash hit Daring Greatly (which, b-t-dubbs, if you don't own, you need to drop what you're doing right now and go out and procure it. No one cares if you haven't brushed your teeth yet and as for your hair, just put a hat on - it'll be fine). If you are one of the smarties that has already read this book, you're probably thinking - "Hey, Moll, that book's almost 4 years old - you're late to the party, girlfriend!" Yeah, well, it's not the first time. So, hush.
Now, let's talk creative...
Most everyone that's ever lived anywhere, ever, associates being creative with making something unique and magical that originated within their own imagination: a piece of music, a piece of art, great choreography, a work of fiction, etc. And for those of you out there that don't regularly do those things, you tend to entrench yourself under the big, boldly lit marquis labeled "NOT CREATIVE." Some don't think they have the ability. Others trivialize it or think it's something that only the weak-minded concern themselves with. Even Brene Brown, herself, when asked if she was creative at one time jeeringly responded, "That's cute - I don't do A.R.T. I have a J.O.B." But here's the thing ladybugs, being artistic and being creative - they are NOT the same thing. You may not be able to draw a stick figure, but you're creative every day of your life.
So, then, what does it mean to be creative? To be creative means nothing more than to act upon inspiration in order to bring something into being. That's it.
The incredible thing about being human that separates us from other animal species (yes, other than thumbs...) is the need to alter the world around us - how it functions, how it's understood, how it sounds, how it looks, how it smells, how it tastes, and how it feels. And that's where creativity - the sheer imagining of what could be - comes into play. All it takes is one idea. Just one. And I'm not talking about something earth-shattering, like the next iPod. It could be an idea for a great music playlist or for a story about werewolves. Could be combining basil and watermelon for a refreshing summer salad. Could be moving your bed to a different part of the room so that you can wake up with the sunrise streaming through your windows. Could be a trip up the California coast, stopping at every town along the way, and documenting your journey in pictures. Could be as simple and basic as envisioning yourself in the job that you know in your heart that you're meant for. Each and every day, we feel inspiration, we spark ideas, we dream, we create. Every. Single. One of us. And that these ideas are unique isn't the point. People have lived on this big, blue rock for a very long time. As such, the likelihood that you're going to come up with something that's NEVER, EVER BEEN THOUGHT OF BEFORE is literally impossible. But casting your own, unique light on it - presenting it with your own, unique interpretation - that's what counts.
True creativity is driven by personal curiosity (I wonder what would happen if...) and makes the greatest impact because it comes from your most authentic self. That false self, the one that shows up one first dates and at business meetings - that self be damned. I'm talking about the true self - the place deep within your one-of-a-kind, fiery soul where the masks and armor you wear out into the world disintegrate like paper in water. I'm talking about that place where who you are is bound in union with your perfect, divine spark. That's where it bubbles and churns and where all of those yummy ideas come from - your most vulnerable, soft, gooey core. That genuine place, that place where you're simultaneously most exposed and most guarded... and most easily scarred.
According to Brene Brown, "85 percent of the men and women we interviewed for the shame research could recall a school incident from their childhood that was so shaming that it changed how they thought of themselves as learners. What makes this even more haunting is that approximately half of those recollections were what I refer to as creativity scars. The research participants could point to a specific incident where they were told or shown that they weren’t good writers, artists, musicians, dancers, or something creative."
Creativity scars. You don't even have to think about it and you know what those are. I certainly do - I've witnessed them being made and I for damn sure have several of my very own. They wield a very particular type of purpley, gnarled devastation and come with their own unique brand of PTSD. It is because of these "creativity scars," old, new or imagined, that most of our creative ideas never see the light of day - we as individuals, set adrift in a world where the sun is nearly blotted out with the slings and arrows of judgement and shame - are too daunted by all the opportunities for ridicule and failure to hold our treasures out for the world to see. So, we try to douse the creative fire and cover our ideas with twigs and brush and tell the world, "Nope, nothing to see here. Move along."
But we're human. And being human means that the creative fire never really goes out. Time ticks on, and the flames may dwindle to embers, but it's always there, glowing softly, waiting for the moment when it can spark and rage with all it's mighty splendor. Until that time, it lays in wait, smoldering and smoking...
Unused creativity is not benign. Unused creativity is malignant.
One thing about pent up energy is that it always finds the path of least resistance: if you block it in one place, it will turn and seep out somewhere else. And, like a cancer, squelched/unused creativity will metastasize - it will spread and start to feed on other areas of your life. As it smolders and smokes, eventually it shifts into toxic, cancer-like emotions such as resentment, jealousy, and regret. And emotional cancer can cripple the soul just as fast as an unchecked tumor can cripple the body.
So, where does this leave us? What are we to do? How do we avoid ending our days as a pile of dusty, old bones riddled with anguished regret and resentment over what might have been? And how do we avoid all of the vulnerability and risk that comes with creative expression? The answer is clear: we must choose. We can do one or we can do the other, but we can't do both. One leads us to a place of immediate safety, out of the harsh light of day, where we're safe from being exposed as all of the things our ego, in an attempt to protect us, tells us that we are: undeserving, unoriginal, untalented, brash, arrogant, a sham. And the other marches us straight into the spotlight, exposed - warts and all - for all of the world to see, to either sink or swim as we will. Quite a conundrum, isn't it?
The title of Brene's book, Daring Greatly, is taken from a quote by Theodore Roosevelt. Apparently, he had a lot to say on the subject of being at this type of crossroads because I offer for you here another quote of his that speaks to weighing such a decision as is laid out before us here. He said, "Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."
A gray twilight - a middle place, neither light nor dark - it sounds like a great place to catch a quiet, peaceful moment. But it's no place to live.
Creativity is fire. It is the light that burns inside each one of us. It is what makes us problem solvers and artists. It's what makes us builders of sky scrapers and composers of music and curers of disease. And regardless of whether or not what you create is something that earns a spot as a cultural icon or whether it never makes it further than your refrigerator door, it's still a fiber in the fabric of our collective identity and thus, inspires others - and ourselves - to continue to build upon it. So, let the fire burn, whatever it may bring. Let it rage, boldly and bright. And when you fail, fail marvelously. But speak. Dance. Write. Build. Dream. Live. And enjoy the ride with the sun on your face. -MRM
Molly Maloney, founder of Bliss-Worx, is an Intuitive Life Coach, Psychic Empath, Clairvoyant Medium, Certified Reiki Healer, and a trained Akashic Records Consultant. She holds this work - connecting clients with spirit - as a sacred honor and looks forward to being able to share her unique gifts with you!