So much of what I write on this blog concerns the question of why we do what we do, how we do what we do and what is the intended result of doing something the way we do it. Perhaps this is simply where I am at in my life that makes me explore such question.
When I was a young boy, I was very keen on exploring the mysteries. Well I still do as its very obvious to anyone who reads my blog. One of my pre-occupation as a young boy was in the study of astrology. As a November baby, I am a Scorpio. One of the consistent trait of Scorpios which was surfaced in many astrology books that I read, concerns the topic of intensity. It is said that Scorpios are the most intense character in the zodiac.
When you are a young kid, you have no means of comparison. You are too young and know too few people to even do a fair comparison. It befuddles me what is exactly meant by being intense. To me, even at such a young age, it is such a subjective notion that it seems impossible to even quantify it and qualify the assertion that Scorpios are the most intense people in western astrology. Despite my own scepticism, somehow the topic of intensity and what it means consumes me. Unbeknownst to me, I am exhibiting the exact trait that is described by my own astrological symbol through my dogged determination to tenaciously attempt to understand what is intensity. Talk about being typecast accurately from a young age.
Now that I am 34 years of age, the definition of the word Intensity has become a very personal definition that is founded upon my own experience and journey through at times holding it as a virtue and gift and at times thinking I could have used a bit more of relaxation bone in my body rather than being too intense for most people. As with most people as they grow older, I think so much of our success in life is based on having a good balance of various characters (tools in essence) that we can activate at different times of our lives for different needs.
What is Intensity?
As mentioned above, my definition of the word Intensity has evolved numerous times since I first read that word. It is a word that I hold dearly and cherish. So here goes my evolved definition:
Intensity is the act of bringing all positive emotions, consciousness, physiological action like deep breathing to increase oxygen flow to the brain, into the present moment; aka The NOW. It is the act of bringing all your tools (character, personality, awareness, consciousness, creativity, will) to focus on the NOW and this essentially means whatever you are doing. It is the act of bringing together all your tools and focusing it like a laser onto something that you wish to focus upon such that whatever you focus upon has no opportunity but to submit to your intention. What is the intention? The intention can be an attempt to understand something at that moment, it can be lifting weights as part of High Intensity Training, it can be the simple and enjoyable act of taking a walk in nature and wanting to enjoy intensely every moment of it, it can be in the act of listening to a beautiful piece of music, it can be in the act of listening to a friend who is in trouble and needed a listening ear who happens to be you, it can be a survival situation where you are confronted by a wild dog/bear/rattlesnake or being accused of doing something bad when you know you did not do it, it can be doing anything at all.
‘What is Bushido? Bushido is living life in every breath’ – Paraphrasing from the movie ‘The Last Samurai’.
In the movie ‘The Last Samurai’, Tom Cruise character was ‘guest’ within the samurai’s territory where he stayed until the end of winter. During this time, he was free to roam within the samurai village as he detox from his alcoholism. He noted how the samurai warrior lives by the Bushido code where every action was pondered upon and became an exercise on perfection. The idea being that when you live in every breath, you do not want every breath to go to waste. So you ensure that you do your best to make every action an expression of perfection. In the movie, we saw this epitomised in the swordmaker’s almost religiously ritualistic way of making a sword, in the way the samurai warriors focused intently on swordfighting, archery and bare-hand fighting.
Although the movie ‘The Last Samurai’ is largely a work of fiction, the life philosophy that the samurai’s live by, called Bushido, is real. The reason why I shared with you the story is to draw your attention to the phrase, ‘Life in every breath which to me epitomises Intensity in a beautiful philosophical way’. What does it mean to you if you were to live life in every breath? ponder on that for awhile before reading further.
If you ask me what does ‘Life in every breath’ means, I would say its about living my life fully with the intent not to waste every sigle breath doing anything by half measure. It would also mean that I do every single act to the best of my ability because life is short and I do not have infinite opportunity to choose which moments I want to be perfect in and which moments I just do things at 50% standard. What if after writing this blog entry, I choked on something and die. Or what if you didn’t know that you might die in a few minutes time. The question is in the short span of our life, have we ever given 100% in anything that we do?
Another aspect of living life intensely is also self-examination.
‘An unexamined life is not worth living.’ – Socrates
Why do you do what you do? again we are faced with this all-important question. This is a question that as a human-being, we couldn’t run away from. When we are younger, we might say that we do what we do because of peer pressure. When we are older and we start to live on our own, we do what we do because of survival. But what is next? What about whether you are enjoying what you are doing in your life? And if not, why are you not living your chosen life? and whatever obstacles that are standing in your way, what could be done to overcome them or are there another way to do it so that you dont face the same obstacle. Are you willing to waste your life working in a job that you dont enjoy in exchange for financial compensation? How important is it for you to know that why you do what you do is founded upon being authentically you and living your passion as opposed to just making the best of what life throws at you.
A person who lives an examined life will tend to be able to generate greater levels of intensity than someone who have not. This is what I have discovered.
Why is there a need to live life with Intensity?
This is a very good question. In order to answer this, I would need to first highlight what happens to you when you are in an intense state of mind.
An intense state of mind is a heightened ultra-focus state where you are hyper aware of what you chose to focus on whether it be something that is unfolding in front of you, or following a thread of thought, or enjoying music, or listening to a friend, or surfing, or defending yourself. When a person is in this non-distractive state, there is an economy of energy. Essentially, all energy (mental, physical and spiritual) are brought to bear on what you chose to focus upon. In this hyper-aware, hyper-focused state, you become aware of patterns, solutions, minute aspect of details that might otherwise gone unnoticed, connection with past memories. Through intense positivity, you become focused on finding a solution to overcome the situation. Intense positivity also means bringing to bear in a concentrated way all your self belief, all your tenacity, all your audacity. From the physical aspect, when you are intensely focused on the Now, you fully concentrate on what you are focused upon. Your eyes doesn’t waver to distract you from the focus on hand. Your breathing is controlled an regulated only to help to boost the proces of focused intensity. your posture is hyper-attentive and in the optimum posture that you know to adopt so that you have to your full attention and isn’t easily distracted.
Now with all the above description, what do you think will happen to whatever you chose to focused intensely upon? I believe that whatever intention you have for choosing to focused upon something with Intensity will be achieved. This means that if you need to solve a problem, you will solve it, if you need to enjoy a beautiful piece of music, you will be able to observe and enjoy every single strand of piano keys and guitar twing, if you need to defend yourself against a wild animal/criminal, the person with the higher intensity will have a higher level of success in being able to find a solution compared to a less intense person. If you wish to follow a thought up its epistemological ladder to find its macro origin, you will have a higher success if you do the process intensely. All these activities and more are served better with intensity.
For me, the whole of life is best lived intensely. Being intensely focused allows me to see patterns that makes me question especially if something is not serving me or certain groups or causing more suffering than good. Living intensely, I do not waste any unnecessary time in giving my best effort. When I live intensely, I usually feel like im living fully because I’m approaching life in an intensely conscious state where I’m aware moment to moment of whats happening. The opposite is just living my life like a zombie or office drone who does what he does unquestioningly. I used to do this a lot last time mind you. I’m not perfect either.
How do we generate Intensity?
This is another good question. Intensity can be generated by creating the following state:
1. A state of focused hyper-awareness on anything that you chose to focused upon. Every other thing is secondary to the act of focusing attention.
2. Breathing deeply to support the act of focused attention.
3. Intense emotional positivity characterised by the adoption of optimism, openess to possibilities/ideas and a mood for playful experimentation.
4. Non-distractive behaviour essentially means cutting out unnecessary actions that might distract you from what you chose to focus upon. This means switching off hp, seating in a certain posture that is optimum for the task at hand to support focused attention, focusing your eyes on the area of focus instead of wandering your eyes or other senses.
5. A state of willingness to embrace the Now.
6. Focus on why you choose to focus on what you have chosen to focus upon. Know that you are here to use intensity to achieve your desired outcome using all your internal resources. Intensity after all is about using all your intrinsic resources. The ‘why’ is always central in everything we do in life.
Above are the areas I focused upon to create Intensity within me. You can use the above as a test and also experiment with your own cues to see what works for you.
What is the intended eventual goal of living life with intensity?
The intended goal of living life with intensity is a sense of having lived life fully and giving your all in everything that you do. When you live Intensely, there are no wasted actions. All your actions are consciously thought of and executed. You feel that you are in the flow and because of this, there will be a greater sense of enjoyment. These are all important state to aspire to I feel. And just imagine, when you live life with intensity, perhaps all these wars will stop because everyone will realise that within them they have what is needed to create a better world for everyone. Too far a stretch? Well try to live intensely for a day and let me know whether you start thinking after seven days that this is possible. When you live intensely, you will start to unlock the great pool of reservoir within you. You will start to realise that you have amazing untap potential. Again these arent my parabolic. Just give it a go and let me know 🙂 Namaste.