Geraldine R. Borromeo
Manila, PhilippinesIntention. The word conjures up extreme opposite associations like good intentions versus evil intent and honorable intentions versus lustful intent. When Sifu Vince told me to practice my horse stance with intent, I thought, “this guy is just over the top with his kung fu.”
Thinking while executing a movement has always proved too much for my mental capacity since it meant pairing the movement with intent. At the end of the day after handling complex commercial transactions for my clients, all I want to do is space out. If I had to move a muscle I wanted it to be a thoughtless movement.
That is why I am more attracted to aerobic exercises where I could stay at the back and just use my eyes to cue my body how to move. No one in any aerobic exercise class ever asked me to put more thought in the movement. All I had to do was reach a heart rate that would burn calories and make me sweat and that is about as much intent I could muster.
When Sifu Vince and I were first married he was constantly recruiting me to practice the basics of his martial art. Every time I watched him execute a form, the minute details of every hand, trunk, neck, head, waist, hip, leg and foot movement daunted me. The drill looked like a million thoughts must have been zinging through the Sifu’s head just to coordinate his mind with his body.
I had always thought of myself as awkward in the physical realm, clumsy most of the time as my family would attest. If something could spill, I would be the one to spill it. If something would drop and break into pieces, I would have to own up to it or live with the guilt. Performing a martial arts dance was definitely way beyond me and I would be better off reading or writing, my nose immersed in piles of paperwork. Tackling words is as easy as pie since all I needed to coordinate were my mind, my eyes and my fingers that would translate my thoughts.
Equating movement with intention then sounded a bit too weird for one like me until I got afflicted with a really bad case of flu. Needless to say, I stopped doing the horse stance while brushing my teeth, bathing, washing my face, etc. I was asleep most of three days and my recovery was slow as I shunned antibiotics and let my body heal with rest and plenty of liquids.
As I began moving about I started getting back on my routine and I mindlessly went on the horse stance as I was about to wash my hair. I felt my knees buckle as I bent it and I did not feel the stability I usually got. Then it hit me. I was just going through the motions of a horse stance with no intention of gaining the stability I needed.
The force of habit of bending my knee, tucking my tailbone in, leaning forward and keeping my head straight had no effect whatsoever. I was just plain tired so I let it go and got a chair to sit to finish washing my hair – an elaborate process of shampooing and conditioning to get soft, shiny cliché hair.
The next day I felt better and I realized that my horse stance gave me the stability that I needed while I went about my mundane routine of facial cleansing, moisturizing and applying make-up. I could feel my thighs strong, my tailbone tucked in, my core tight and my knees stable. It was such an amazing realization that I realized my intention or lack of it pre-determined the quality of just about anything I do.
I realize that when I take on a project with intent, the results clearly show the dedication and commitment I put into it. When I write with intent, it shows in the flow of words and ideas that shape into an engaging story. When I move with intent, the full benefit of the movement is reaped by my body in the same way.
Intention – it could spell the difference between ok and great; mediocre and stellar. Which way than shall we all take – the narrow way of Sifu Vince -to act with intent or the wider path – to act with passive lethargy?