By Chelcee Loraine. Photography by Deun Ivory
As “amen’s” and woodgrain-colored hands moved through the air, the preacher man shouted about Moses at the burning bush. How God speaks through things we’d question. When spirit shows up and directs our ways. I thought about what had been directing my days recently. Was I moving from something deeper within me? Moving with intention?
“The hustle,” albeit a purposed one, has taken my time as of late. I realized my days have ended with me crashing more often than I’d like to admit or frustrated with headlines about a divided country. And while you may be thinking, ‘yeah girl me too.’ It’s a move that if I was more aligned, more intentional, my daily ritual would not end with my head near notebooks and my laptop at my feet. It might end in prayer, journaling, listening to spirit. This is a small personal wrestling with intentionality in my day to day life currently (there are others). Maybe yours is still uncovering what intention guides your life, work, love, relationships, ritual and more. Or, maybe you know you need more intentional play and intentional rest (hand raise).
What’s showing up deeper within you to direct how you move through the world? Sometimes our intentions appear as silent promises we’ve yet to give room to live aloud. Or, counter-living to an intention you’ve yet to verbalize helps bring you back to center (walks laptop to desk at night).
I’ve been reading the essays of luminary women and thinkers, those of Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison and more. Women who, while they may not have called it that at the time, were certainly brewing over the idea of intentional living themselves. In an essay titled, “The Transformation from Silence into Language and Action” by Audre Lorde we get the infamous, well-quoted line “Your silence will not protect you.”
But it’s rare that we dive into the context Lorde was writing from, during the time she wrote that infamous line she was undergoing a breast surgery to remove a lump and reckoning with what it means to face one’s mortality. In this reflection, she realized what she regretted most were her silences.
Lorde will go on to write, “the transformation from silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation.” Uncovering our intentions is the work of inner revelation. Intentional living transfers our silent promises into language and action.
In Mallika Chopra’s book, Living With INTENT, she has a great acronym for I.N.T.E.N.T: Incubate, Notice, Trust, Express, Nurture and Take Action.
Incubating and noticing often, to me, feels like unlearning. In order to build intention into our everyday lives we also have to unlearn what we’ve been taught to desire for our lives, our relationships, our success, our selfhood.
Chopra also discusses the fact that there can be both egoic intents and non-egoic intents. Egoic intents are often a part of the unlearning, when we build intentions from the space society has directed our desires. Non-egoic intents get to our most authentic, deepest longings. The “incubation process” can be a meditative practice that allows you to notice if the intention you’ve set aligns with your soul’s true desire.
Then, trust your intuition, trust the intention that arises. I recently googled divinity school (like a few hours ago --how when I’m already crashing at the end of the day?). It isn’t my first flirtation with the idea and I don’t know how it’ll manifest. But, I do know a long-held intention has been, to know and be led by spirit first. There’s a reason I’ve constantly been pulled to study faith more deeply. Those desires we ignore (that legit come from beyond us) or flirt with cautiously often hold the key to more of who we are.
Once we trust our intentions, we’re asked to express them - to move them out into the universe. Maybe it’s writing them down and putting them on your mirror or talking to your friends and partner about both of your intentions in each other’s life. We often make setting an intention a solitary practice. However, I’ve noticed that sharing this with kinfolk and lovers helps guide and evolve relationships.
We nurture our intentions by creating safe space for our purest desires to thrive. This may also be a pruning process where you let go of habits that do not support the intention you’ve set. And lastly, “taking action” moves us back to the thoughts of Auntie Audre. The final step of centering our intentions is seeding them into the way we work, live, love, what we consume (not just the food, but books and TV) and how we fortify our purpose in the world.
As Lorde says, “it is necessary to teach by living and speaking those truths which we believe and know beyond understanding.”
As we close this year, maybe you’re looking at all you wanted to accomplish and celebrating. Or, maybe you’re looking at a few of the things you still have left. Look at what you’re gearing yourself up to complete before 2018 closes and ask yourself what intention is driving this and, see if you want to shift. You may even realize you’ve been fulfilling this intention through another avenue.
“The object is to reach the end intact as you. So one of the (gospel) songs goes: “Guide my feet, while I run this race; Guide my feet, while I run this race. Guide my feet, while I run this race. ’Cause I don’t want to run this race in vain.’ This plea is addressed to The Creator, who is also the deep Self. The truest work is not to run the race of life in vain” says Alice Walker.
All month long at BGIO we’ll be exploring ways to Thrive Through Intention, because this living won’t be in vain. And, you got way too much fire within to not let it light your life.
A few things to help set your intention creating space: Lavender is a goddess herb. When consumed as a tea it relaxes the mind and can help rid thoughts that come from the ego, it works through the third eye chakra (for self-awareness, intuition, mental & emotional clarity). Try burning a lemongrass candle, the herb is known to increase clarity and lastly consider listening to the meditative music of Beautiful Chorus.
How has intentional living created a more mindful life? Are you learning how to intentionally eat? Has your spiritual practiced been tweaked after new realizations? How are you creating conversation around activism and racism with purpose? Have an article to share on the subject? Email your pitch to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chelcee Loraine is a publishing professional, Detroit native, editor, and word & world-loving soul. Based in Harem, her passion for the power of the written word & highlighting often policed narratives has led her to work in publishing for the past decade with organizations such as Simon & Schuster, Moguldom Media Group, Serendipity Literary Agency, the New York Times and writing for the likes of Ebony. In a rupturing political climate and blooming social change, BGIO is the place Chelc is able to create a community of safe space in our collective stories as Publication Editor. She is empowered by the (inner)work! With that said, her self-care go to is journaling, prayer and meditation.