Monday, January 29, 2007

"Intentity" - a new word

I would like to propose a new word: Intentity.

This word just popped out during a recent escrima sparring class while I was trying to express a combination of “intensity + intention.” Intentity describes a relationship between the two, and upon reflection I realized this fills in a neat gap. I’ve since added it to my collection of “Jeffisms” or personal sayings.

Intensity is defined as “exceptionally great concentration, power or force.” (

Intent means “something that is intended; an aim or purpose. Also, “the state of one’s mind at the time one carries out an action.” (

One can be intense without having clear purpose. Strong emotions such as road rage or lust can lead to impulsive actions that are not in our best interest. We’ve all probably had the experience of telling ourselves “If I’d thought about it, I would have done something different.”

On the other hand, intensity can be a marvelous tool that motivates us to action. The power of concentration focuses our mind on an outcome, enabling us to maximize our efforts towards that goal with few distractions.

Having intent means we apply consciousness to directing the details of this process. The ancient Hawaiian religion of Huna (“the Secret”; Kahunas were priests, “keepers of the Secret”) teaches correlation between energetic levels of the mind. The energy level of our subconscious is “mana,” that of our conscious mind is “mana-mana,” which literally means “twice as strong mana.”

Our subconscious (unihipili) is that vast repertory of thoughts and processes of which we are generally unaware. The conscious mind (uhane) is like a magnifying glass that can focus on a specific thing. When intention of the conscious mind marshals the resources of the subconscious, it raises emotional intensity to fuel the process.

Conversely, emotions that arise from the subconscious direct our attention and form the basis for beliefs. The power of the subconscious is it is always on, maintaining the machinery of our bodies as long as we live, constantly processing feedback to maintain homeostasis. We experience this as sensation and emotion, which sometimes rise to the level of conscious thought where they receive attention.

It takes practice to get good at paying attention, to being mindful of what is happening in the moment. No matter what you are experiencing, it is always happening NOW. The past cannot change; only our perception of it, how we let it affect us, can change, and that is our present experience.

The future has not happened yet, but where we have leverage to effect outcome is, again, right here and now. Each moment builds the next. Some processes take a long time, like a car, a house, a career. Others are more spontaneous, like sparring in martial arts.

When we experience intentity we are mindfully directing strong emotional energy, an integrative process. It is the state of alignment through which we fully express the spirit of who we are in what we do. It is the doorway to mushin, or “no mind”, the Zen state “into which very highly trained martial artists are said to go” ( In mushin, “a fighter feels no anger, fear or ego during combat. There is an absence of discursive thought and so the fighter is able to act and react towards and opponent without hesitation. At this point, a person relies not on what they think should be the next move, but what is felt intuitively.”

In FMA and other arts, this is summarized as “flow,” which can be categorized as a natural state of grace. It is tension between thought and action that creates gaps through which error strikes.

Integration is more powerful than the disjunctive approach of dualism, which postulates a false dichotomy between mind and matter. It is better, I believe, to think of ourselves as a continuous spectrum of interrelated, interacting and mutually reflective energies, from the most base to most refined. We are thus able to respond appropriately at any level to all nuances of perception.

Some of these subtle influences are higher consciousness processes, refined beyond our level of perception, preceding conscious thought to direct our inner sense of right or wrong. I do not mean society’s morals, but our own inner compass that directs personal choices. What we perceive as mistakes are lessons to learn; success too merely leads to further choices; everything is an outcome. Judgment is subjective; getting eaten by a shark is bad for a person, but to the shark it is simply a meal.

The world is our projection, a reflective mirror of filtering beliefs and self-perceptions. When we align our mind and body, we step past mere personal identity, opening ourselves to a more expansive sense relationship in the moment. Intentity builds that point of balance where we have leverage in the field of possibility, creating the opportunity to more strongly affect our future outcome. What that outcome may be depends on how well we align with the flow, whether in sparring or in life. Intentity is therefore a tactic, our higher purpose the broader strategy we hope to advance.

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