When I first ventured into bodywork as a practitioner 30 years ago, a concept that popped up in a few scattered conversations was ‘working with intention’. As time passed by and the larger population became more mindful and more in tune with their wellbeing and the mind/body connection this concept gained in popularity over a larger group of people and today is quite commonplace, especially in the field of body work.
So what does it mean to work with intention and how can this enhance your practice?
To work with intention is to harness your innate capacity to direct your energy and effort when and how you need to. It seems like a relatively simple concept, but it takes a lot of practice to do it well.
Setting a clear and strong intention of what you are trying to achieve for your clients at the start of a bodywork treatment session helps you to create the conditions for that outcome to arise.
After you do the hard work of ascertaining what your clients’ needs are, and your treatment plan to address these needs, the next step is setting the intention to direct your energy in your practice to achieve those treatment outcomes. It can be hard work. After a long day, when you are tired or when you have other things going on in your life that creep into your mind, it’s all too easy to lose sight of ‘being in the moment’ with your practice and let your mind wander. It is extremely easy to succumb to the busyness of life and just go through the motions with your clients.
How does this affect your client outcomes?
In the case of body workers, of which I am one, and have been one in various forms over the years, it’s easy to think this may not really affect your practice or the effectiveness of a treatment, but this could not be further from the truth. Where you place your hands on a client’s body, the pressure your use, the speed at which you work, the consistency of your practice throughout a session are all areas where working with intention comes in to play. If you are not working with intention, if your mind is wandering, if you are not present in that moment with your clients, then your practice will suffer, and the effectiveness of your treatment will be lessened. Working with intention is a give and take scenario for body workers also. As we perform treatments on the body, we are constantly receiving messages back from the body to indicate what we need to do next, what areas of the body require more attention and what areas of the body are not responding as your had hoped, or intended, hence signalling the need to change or adjust your treatment to achieve your intended outcome. If you are just going through the motions and performing ‘cookie cutter’ or ‘one size fits all’ type treatments, following a generic pattern of movement or protocol, you will find that no matter how great your chosen therapy is, it will not provide consistent or satisfactory client outcomes or results.
How to work with Intention.
Lay the Foundation – Set your intention with your client and what you are hoping to achieve. Evaluate the situation and what is required and how you expect the treatment to flow and what your expected outcomes are at the conclusion of the treatment. Be clear on what you are asking for, down to the smallest details.
Add Practical Steps – once you have set your intention and defined your purpose begin the treatment with these outcomes in mind. Be present. Focus on your client and clear your mind of other ‘chatter’ that is not directly related to the task at hand. Read the body and watch for changes. Adjust your practice as the body adjusts and work with your client as you are both on this healing journey together.
Stay focused – Learn ways and skills to turn off distraction and be completely present. Intention is at its most powerful when you focus your attention on what you do in the present moment to bring your intention into physical manifestation.
Trust in yourself – Trust that you are more than capable in your practice to achieve for your clients what you have set as an intention. You have the skills. You have the knowledge. Be bold Be brave. Be confident.
Be realistic and celebrate – When you invest time, effort, and commitment into your practice whether it produces the intention or result you had in mind or not, ensure you take time to reflect and celebrate. Celebrate the biggest and the smallest successes. Celebrate even when you don’t achieve your intended outcomes. Acknowledge what you have learned and how you have grown as a practitioner. Know that even if you have not achieved your intended outcomes you have invested 100 percent of your time, energy, skill, and knowledge into that treatment and that you have done your best.
When you work with intention you will not only attract more of what you want in client outcomes, but the universe will also supply the acknowledgment that we all need to succeed.
Samantha Ashley – Green Valley Bowen Therapy – practitioner and instructor