If breathing is our evolutionary bedrock, intent is the fuel that carries you forwards and brings change. You cannot make positive changes to your emotional landscape without intending to do so.

Conscious development—sometimes referred to as ‘the road less travelled’, after the book by M. Scott Peck—is very much like a stock market graph. Little climbs lead to sharp drops and gradual recoveries, with the overall trajectory taking you ever higher.

In those many drops we can lose pretty much anything—awareness, direction, motive power, desire. That’s because emotional development observes the basic principle that the old must make way for the new. Just as you must demolish an old house before you can build a new one in its place, you must demolish your old emotional structures before building newer, healthier ones.

There is, however, a significant difference. When building a new house you have an architect’s plan. With your emotions you have no such plan. You just want a shiny ‘new you’—yet you also fear letting go of the ‘current you’ because you want to know, ahead of time, what the new you will be like.

How do you choose the right path if you don’t know—and have no way of knowing—where you’re going?

The answer is intent.

Crack cocaine

Intent is pure desire for conscious development. It’s the crack cocaine of conscious evolution. It’s a quiet fire in your heart that tells the universe: “I’m done with this. I will do whatever it takes to get out of here.”

Intent is pure desire for conscious development. It’s the crack cocaine of conscious evolution. It’s a quiet fire in your heart that tells the universe: “I’m done with this.”

The great thing about intent is that you don’t need to know exactly where you’re going. That desire—that flame—is enough. If you can fuel that, the universe will do the rest.

When it does, what it will show you is your next step. Not the step after that, or five steps in the future, or your end goal. The very next step… the tiniest forward movement along your journey. It’s all you are capable of perceiving right now. No matter how small that step seems your journey cannot be completed without it.

Quiet pull

It might be an urge to call someone you owe an apology to. It might be a quiet pull to read a book or a blog. You might find—you’re not quite sure how—that you’ve signed up for a weekend-long Tantric massage workshop (in case you missed it, that’s the voice of experience speaking).

Whatever that step is… it’s exactly what you need, though you’ll only realise this with hindsight.

With time and awareness you’ll learn to sense these steps in real time, as they happen—almost. They have an odd, unavoidable, slightly surreal quality—as if the force of gravity was running on steroids.

You can take that next step later, or you can take it now. The universe is indifferent. It will respect your decision with infinite patience.

So take it.

Now.

Relight my fire

Where does that step lead? Why, to the next crash in your personal stock market graph, of course. With every forward step outside your comfort zone you release outworn limitations and toxic judgments—and the unexpressed emotional pain that accompanies them.

You’ll feel lost, disconnected and disconcerted as you shed your old skin and get used to your new one. Each crash will also extinguish the flame of your intent. Once you’re done processing the changes, get out your emotional flint or your kindling sticks. To paraphrase The Doors, “Come on baby, relight my fire.”

You will be desperate to know where you’re going. We all are. That’s just your mind trying to find some security to cling to. There is none, so forget about it. Just focus on your intent to move forwards. Hold your focus on that intent.

It will take you wherever you, uniquely, need to go.

Timothy Barlin