“Sometimes you hear a voice through the door calling you, as fish out of water hear the waves, or a hunting falcon hears the drum’s come back. This turning toward what you deeply love saves you.”
This blog is the continuation on the topic of the Four Balances taken from my five-week retreat on Cultivating Emotional Balance Teacher’s Training (CEBTT). The focus of this blog will investigate Conative Intelligence. Conative intelligence is an aspect of our mental life that compels us into a certain direction for what we desire or want to achieve. In contemplating the first of the Four Balances within CEBT, we may relate to the meaning of Conative Intelligence as the quality of intention, aspiration, will, volition, motivation. All of which under penetrating insight reveals itself as a deep yearning for flourishing. If we attune our lives purposefully for what we desire and commit to it’s unfolding, while appearing at first blush as a simple task, it becomes an exercise of dedication and courage.
Our modern lives have taken the shape of long work days; kids in childcare; fast food restaurants; Starbuck’s to keep us going; 100+emails each day; multiple texts messages; phone calls; managing finances; cleaning the house; maybe some exercise; going to movies; concerts and other entertainments; sex ... oh did someone mention time for that; and sleeping maybe six hours, etc. You get the picture. Where is the time to even consider what you truly aspire for in life, when what’s being dished up is modernity in full throttle?
In assessing Conative Intelligence, one aspect of conation is the knowledge that we make choices in how we spend our time. The act of free will often has turned into the perception of “I have to, because … fill in the blank.” Another aspect to Conative Intelligence is to strive for something or the ambition to achieve something. Again this striving and ambition has become a plethora of demands yanking at us for attention. Yet, inquiring more deeply into the nature of Conative Intelligence, qualities of serenity, stillness, compassion, kindness, and wisdom are revealed. So how in the world has such intelligence been hijacked by modernity that promised us peace, love, and light? We made choices with our free will in our striving and ambitions and placed our source of happiness on people, places, and things. The old cliché’ of “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Thankfully, at any moment, we can choose otherwise with our free will and place our efforts and attention on our heart’s desire and to know our Conative Intelligence.
So let’s begin with turning our attention toward this innate goodness that has all the fossil fuel, so to speak, to guide us toward our hearts true desire. This is not a promise of drinking the Kool-Aid, because attending to our hearts true desire does take courage, dedication, perseverance, kindness, and a re-arrangement of our current circumstances (to some degree, at least). Everyday, begin the day with this simple mindfulness practice. As we investigate our lives in this daily practice, note insights that arise, emotions that surface, and sensations that arise and where they are located.
Begin this practice with finding a comfortable position and take notice of your breath and allow your body to relax and be at ease. Focus on your in-and-out breath for a few moments. Now begin your vision quest journey. Ask yourself the following four questions. This is not an exercise in finding a “right” answer, but instead to allow the question to sit within you and answer itself. This is not an exercise in mental projections, but rather an exercise of inquiry into the hearts perceptive. Now ask yourself these questions (it helps to record these and listen while in meditation):
(Source: Visions Quest questions from Alan B. Wallace, PhD)
In the words of Christopher Reeves, a true Superman with an indelible spirit, said, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible. Then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the WILL, they soon became inevitable.” May your true hearts desire flourish and be brought alive, because for each of us, the world needs it now.
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