What is the difference between our motivations and intentions? As a practice this week, suggested by meditation teacher Mark Coleman, I’ve been examining my motivations. Asking myself, “What are my motivations?” That is, my basic reasons for doing what I do.
At first, I was coming up with all kinds of positive things. And then I realized that I was confusing motivation with intention.
I intend to be “a good person,” to live well, to love well. I aim to connect, learn, feel, teach, listen, heal, and embody. I seek to work in a way that fosters and remembers wholeness. I want to be engaged with other people in learning, helping, and enjoying life.
With motivation, it sometimes seems a little more… primal. Sometimes I choose or do something because I’m hiding and protecting; sometimes I’m opening and embracing. I can be motivated to enact my intentions because I believe it will increase happiness and love. But at base, motivations look more like:
To be safe, secure, well, and happy
To be loved
To be seen
To find meaning
Perhaps this is why I find the metta, or lovingkindness, meditations so deeply resonant and comforting. When I practice metta, I receive, in my body, a felt sense (warmth, release, ease) of safety, happiness, health, and peace. With motivations recognized and assured, it returns me to my intentions and allows me to go out and about and offer the same to others.
May we dwell in the heart of the world
May we be free from suffering
May we be healed
May we be at ease.