Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Intent & Action: The Bridge

What is your intent? Do you have one? I won’t forget the interview in which I was asked if I believed people set their intent. I had always thought so; the interviewer did not. So, after the television spot, I informally surveyed a number of people. What did I discover? Although many people do not formally set intent, they do so in unconscious and informal ways. 

Our intent is our aim, purpose, or something we would like to achieve. Maybe it is a goal specific for the day. This kind of intent is soul deep. It supersedes our short term goals and many of our long term ones. You could ask yourself, “At the end of my life, how would I want people to remember me?” That answer is integral to your life intent. 

For many, their intent is to follow the golden rule — do unto others, cause no harm, love thy neighbor are three renditions. This sounds simpler that it is. I cannot count the number of times my actions have not reflected my intent. When my intent is out of sync with my actions, I have a choice. I can throw up my hands in the face of this adversity or I can accept responsibility for my behavior. 

Accepting my responsibility is only possible with self compassion. Instead of harming myself with critical thoughts or words, I alleviate my personal suffering. In doing so, I clear the connection between my intent and action. I am able to refocus my intent and lay tiles upon the bridge of my intent and action.

In my book, Engaging Compassion Through Intent and Action, I share a template for building a bridge that connects who we are in the core of our being with our action. This bridge provides elements that help us focus our awareness, live in the moment, and understand our self. We are encouraged to be courageous and curiously daring as we mindfully take an intentional look at our life. We maintain our bridge through contemplative practices that develops mindfulness. 

You may ask yourself, “What is my intent?” Perhaps it is a spontaneous knowing that you easily name, or you may need to sit quietly and, through reflection, allow it to rise to the surface of your consciousness. A few moments of focused attention — either sitting meditation or attending to your breath — releases your distractions and enables you to name the intent that rests in the core of your being. After realizing your intent, allow it to resonate into your being orally, through the written word, or through artistic expression.

Throughout the day be conscious about how you lay the tiles on your deck of your bridge of intent and action. When you notice that your actions are drifting away from your intent, return to your breath. It roots you firmly in the moment and creates an environment of choice. Rest at the foundation of your awareness. Commit to your intent. Act upon your intent.

It does not matter how often your intent misaligns with your actions. What matters is that you are consciously aware of those moments when your actions do not sync with your intent. What matters is that you consciously, intentionally refocus so that your actions mirror your intent. Through the refocusing, you engaging your compassion through intent and action. 

For more information about building a bridge between intent and action, read Engaging Compassion Through Intent and Action

Vanessa F. Hurst, ms, is a Mindful Coach, Compassion Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Author who weaves her inner wisdom into all she touches. Contact Vanessa

More from Vanessa:
Twitter: @fyrserpent

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Intent & Action: Living With Our Eyes Open

The world isn’t so gray any more. The world is becoming green against a backdrop of grayish-brown. The tiny green buds are popping from the trees. Each tiny bud, in its own time, unfurls to become a leaf. Hope appearing after a bleak winter filled with too much and not enough. No matter what we found lacking or in overabundance, within this winter, like all dormant times, is the promise of spring. 

I remember quite a few springs ago vacationing in Michigan. My friend and I were taking a hike, and he spied a wild mushroom. After that discovery, it didn’t take long for my eyes to adjust to the landscape. When I opened my eyes to see, those morels were hiding everywhere in plain sight. Seeing in a different way provided an abundance of morels to feast upon that evening.

I remember that morel hunting when I am overwhelmed by the bleakness of winter. During those times that we feel trapped in the winter of our soul, we miss those minute, hidden signs of spring. Our life is seldom as barren as we believe. We have only to shift the way we perceive our world in order to find a spring waiting to bud and unfurl into abundance in our life. These miracles that are hiding in plain sight are evident when we open our eyes and see. 

Living with our eyes wide open occurs when we foster an environment of silence. Here we do not live in a cessation of physical noise; rather, we quiet our minds and listen both internally and externally. We are mindful as we listen to our internal conversations — what our thoughts are saying and how our emotions are manifesting. We attend to what our physical body is telling us. Externally we pay attention to the world around us — not only the words of another but all that is occurring. 

In this place of silence we more fully connect to our divine spark. This is our wisdom space where our ability to see past the mundane and see the promise in the world rests. Our inner wisdom shifts our attention so that we see the iridescent sparklies of the sacred. Cloaked in silence we see clearly beyond the barren and into what really is. We mindfully act in ways that bring beauty in response to our inner wisdom.

Each time we see past the mundane, we strengthen our mindful stance. Mindfulness is key to listening to our inner wisdom or that voice that speaks with all of our senses. Listening with intent, we can formulate our compassionate response to the world. We approach the barren in a different way. It no longer is an adversary but a place of possibility.

How can we be loving and gentle and kind knowing that we may never change those barren aspects? We acknowledge that the world will always have barren spaces. When we approach them with love, we recognize that while we may not be able to shift that gray, we can have compassion for it. In doing so, find those minute signs for our self and for others in the world. And, over time, those barren parts of our life with be overrun by the creeping vines of abundance. 

Vanessa F. Hurst, ms,  is a Mindful Coach, Compassion Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Author who interweaves her inner wisdom in all she touches. Contact Vanessa

More from Vanessa: www.intentandaction.com

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Today Is The Day

Today is the day. No more procrastination. No more excuses. No more stuck in who I am so that I forget  who you are. Today is the day to be my authentic self so you can shine your authenticity. Today is my day…and yours.

We have been collectively shaken awake. No longer living in a world where everything is okay, we cannot longer afford to be wrapped in the comfortable blanket of our illusions. Wide awake, we notice that while we thought we were wrapped in a comforting blanket; in fact, we have been embedded in the cracks of a shattered window of illusions. Not only is everything not okay, we are pushed from complacency and propelled into the uncertain.

No longer content to walk this field of life, our authentic self demands we be change agents. In fact, our hands itch to turn over the soil in the ground of our being and plant seeds of a new, better way. We ask our self, “What are the little things — what seeds can I plant today that will bear fruit in the tomorrows?” And, then, carefully picking through the seeds, we cast aside those that are illusion-bearing. With each seed set aside, we agree to stop living with illusions and honestly walk our soul talk. 

Choosing seeds take courage. We have no real idea what relationships might fall away when we stop being what we are not what the ground of our being calls us to be. It takes more than a little courage and a lot of curious daring to take the next step as we plant those seeds of authentic presence. And, it takes daily doses of self compassion to nurture the seedlings into full growth. 

Seeds planted, we do not stop tending to the garden of our spirit. We weed and water as we remove the illusions and bring life to who we truly are. Although we are not quite sure exactly what we are growing, we trust that with curious daring and courage we will see our transformation from seed to authentically flourishing garden.

During growth, we breath deeply of the fecundity in our spirit. The roots grow deeply to stabilize who we authentically know our self to be. Awash in the growing abundance, it becomes easier to let go the harsh words and actions of our self and others. We see our self and others clearly and respond with clarity. 

With clarity comes choice. We decide what to allow, the authentic or the illusion, into the garden of our spirit. We decide whether to welcome the purity of intent or the pollution of illusion. We choose. And, in choosing, we let go of our preconceived notions and perceptions of how our life needs to look. We let go of people, situations, and circumstances that no longer have a place in our garden. 

Weeding is perhaps the most difficult part of gardening for authenticity. Each weed pulled creates suffering. It if often difficult to let go of illusions that are comfortable even when they are not life giving. When we let go of illusions, each plucked week becomes compost — the stuff born of suffering nourishes our ground and provides the sustenance of transformation. 

We have been collectively shaken awake. We are aware of the blight in the gardens of our individual souls and in the garden of our collective spirit. Do. Not. Go. Back. To. Sleep. Apprentices, Journey(wo)men, and Master Gardeners alike have many rows to till and seeds to plant. Let’s get started in letting go of the illusions and nurturing what is real. 

Let’s be authentically awake and courageously compassionate as we tend an inclusive garden where are all welcome. 

Vanessa F. Hurst, ms,  is a Mindful Coach, Compassion Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Author who interweaves her inner wisdom in all she touches. Contact Vanessa

More from Vanessa: www.intentandaction.com

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Drop in a Vast Sea

Looking at my life, I feel, at times, inconsequential. If I wasn’t here tomorrow, if I disappeared without a trace, would anyone notice? Does my life, the life of anyone, really matter? Are we just one forgettable drop in a sea of forever? The conundrum — I can believe that I do not matter or I can recognize the many ways that my one drop impacts the other drops around me.

In our interactions with friends, coworkers, family, we are better able to recognize we impact others. It may occur as part of an evolving conversation or in our commitment to the relationship. It may be a simple word or action or something deeply profound and life changing. It is in each moment we connect in uplifting ways and when we reach out during discouraging times. Awareness is the key to our impact. 

But, our awareness washes away in the torrential downpours of life. We become inundated with people, events, and circumstances until we find our self swimming in a pool of despair. Carried away from the moment, we find our self trapped in past regrets or propelled into a worrisome potential future. We need not remain in the past or future. When we rest in our quiet mind and fully engage in the moment, we feel drops of hope and potential gently caressing us as we return to the moment.

These times of peaceful engagement seldom last for chaos seems almost a constant in these challenging time. Swept once again into the tumult, we are carried away on this mad dash. In our not so gentle landing, we might bounce once or twice before our speed slows and we are here now. Once back in the moment, our drop seeps into the parched land melting the barriers of suffering. Behind the lines of suffering, our drop, in large and small ways, effects change. We may even find our perspectives shifting. As we connect, we view our self less as inconsequential and more profound. 

One small drop in an infinite ocean of drops may seem unimportant and easily lost, but that drop may touch the earth in ways that open the floodgates for other drops to pour through. Or, maybe we are a drop falling somewhere in the middle that provides the ongoing energy to move through the current challenge. Or, perhaps, we are the last drop through the floodgate. We are the catalyst that changes everything. 

It matters not where we are, but that we are a drop in the vast sea of compassionate presence. And, our part in this community of compassion is anything but inconsequential.

Small drop, mighty impact through our connection with others.

Vanessa F. Hurst, ms, is a Mindful Coach, Compassion Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Author who interweaves her inner wisdom in all she touches. Contact Vanessa

More from Vanessa: www.intentandaction.com

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Reconfigure Your Constellation of Connections

Last week’s blog most certainly raised the ire of one reader. Who knows what I triggered because I am most certainly not living in her reality. But, her reaction, as most reactions, became a reflection point for me. I asked myself: Why would I reconfigure a constellation of unity? And, when is reconfiguration necessary?

In my book, A Constellation Connections: Contemplative Relationships, the nature of mindful relationships is dynamic, flexible, and evolving. But, relationships are not static. We cannot expect that a relationship will remain the same over its lifespan. As each partner, together and apart, meets their challenges and learns life lessons, their core values and beliefs change.

We, like the relationship itself, are not the same as in the beginning of the connection’s formation. As we change, the boundaries of our connection stretch. Conflicts are a result of this stretching. Unless we resolve the conflicts, our evolution has the potential to create a schism in the relationship. At any time from initial fracture to schism, we have the choice to

  • ignore the widening gap trusting that it resolves itself
  • acknowledge the fissure and address, with compassion, what contributes to it

If we ignore the conflicts, there is a possibility that the relationship remains viable despite the fractures. Ignoring our differences creates minute cracks in an already tenuous relationship-scape. We may find our self unable to navigate the growing minefield until we or our partner steps on one of the mines triggering a relationship implosion.

When I was younger, a friend would correct my pronoun use in regard to the Sacred. I never verbalized my irritation and intentionally stopped using pronouns when referring to the Sacred around her. (I avoided conflict.) This was one small fissure, a symptom of issues that were causing in a widening relationship crack. The relationship ultimately became too fractured to continue. Maybe if one of us had acknowledged the gap and attempted to heal it, we would have a stronger, durable relationship today. Or, the severing of our relationship would have been less painful. 

Addressing the differences within the relationship with compassion — for yourself and the other — opens us to the evolution of the relationship. With compassion, we are better able to evaluate our role, our partner’s role, and the circumstances that bring the relationship to crisis. We move through the conflict using the 4non: non-attachment, non-judgment, non-defensiveness, and non-violence. Through reflection and introspection, we find a way through the crisis by allowing the relationship to shift. 

Using the 4nons, reflection, and introspection, the natural evolution of the relationship is compassion driven. One of two outcomes occur as a result of compassion: 

  • the partners resolve conflicts and the relationship becomes stronger, more durable
  • the partners honestly admit that their beliefs and core values are too different for the relationship to continue as is

The relationship with another is always a part of our constellation of connections although they might not have as prominent role in our constellation. Once in relationship, our connection with another continues through respect and compassion. Allowing relationships to evolve gives us the space to reconfigure our constellation. With this evolution we breathe compassion into the world. 


Vanessa F. Hurst, ms,  is a Mindful Coach, Compassion Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Author who interweaves her inner wisdom in all she touches. Contact Vanessa

More from Vanessa: www.intentandaction.com

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

An Ever Increasing Constellation Of Unity

I have always been an explorer when it comes  to relationships. My natural instinct is to ask questions and listen to answers in order to understand. I have always been fascinated why a person believes as they do and how those beliefs are lived in the moment. Instead of being confused and leaping from judgments to beliefs to assumptions and back, I try to the best of my ability to gain information to better understand why another believes as I do or views life in a very different way.

Last month when a program participant mentioned NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), I flash backed to working at a retreat center where we offered programming that used this tool to improve communication skills. NLP assists in the better understanding of how personal views of realities are created. When we understand why a person believes as they do, we are given the key to connecting on increasingly deeper levels.

NLP is one of the many tools we can use to better understand our self, our conversation partner, and our interactions with one another. While I have not used NLP in years, I often assume the stance of the objective observer by practicing the 4nons (non-attachment, non-judgement, non-defensiveness, and non-violence). Through the use of the 4nons I better understand the roots of my own personal reality — judgments, assumptions, and beliefs while not superimposing them on the reality of another. I can also attend with my full body to gain clues as to the foundation of the other’s view of realty. Then, listening with intent, I gather information to respond with compassion.

The participant who was introduced to NLP was forever changed by the experience. Her relationship with her coworker improved. I had a similar experience with a coworker when I integrated what I had learned while in the objective observer stance. I stopped taking the coworker’s behavior so personally. Did she change? Does it matter? I did. And, I found that the technique we use to shift our communication style doesn’t matter as much as the intent to understand the view of another. 

What happens when we stop taking everything so personally? What happens when we recognize that the other has as much of a right as we do to live from their own reality? We live in ways that are not parallel existences but weave and twine and intersect with one another. We experience our challenges together and learn from each other. The world becomes a better place through respectful interaction. None of this means that we ever have to agree with the other or change our beliefs to accommodate theirs. It means that we consciously and intentionally listen to understand. 

We stop reacting out of anger. We don’t ignore the violence inherent in another’s reactions; we respond with compassion and nonviolence to a world that is increasingly out of sync. We use the energy of our anger to fuel our compassionate response in ways that protect the vulnerable and move us toward a world of inclusivity. And, we are compassionate witness to those who would divide. We build a tribe of compassion rebels who live in an ever increasing constellation of unity. 

There still may be threads of not understanding, but, over time, those can be resolved by listening with intent. Misunderstandings become rarer when we open our heart and listen with intent in order to respond with compassion. We remain confident in our beliefs. This confidence creates the space for another to live their reality. We create our constellation of relationships based upon our commonalities and strengthened by our willingness to respect differences. 


Vanessa F. Hurst is a Mindful Coach, Compassion Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Author who interweaves her inner wisdom in all she touches. Contact Vanessa

More from Vanessa: www.intentandaction.com

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Sowers of Seeds, Sharers of Compassion

I used to believe that it was the role of every compassion filled word, every compassionate act, to trigger a resolution to suffering. That the pain the other was feeling would be greatly diminished and suffering would dissipate based upon my reaction to their suffering. That being a healer meant my words and actions would vanquish the wounds of another. I was wrong.

The deeper that I wade into the spring of compassion, the more I realize the fallacy of this belief. Instead of alleviating suffering, my actions potentially push suffering underground where it patiently waits to resurface. When least expected, the suffering bursts through the cracks of the present moment and taints the here and now. 

Unresolved suffering never leaves us.  It is a patient companion that silently walks with us until we look it in the eye, acknowledge it, befriend it. In order for suffering to be alleviated, we must bring it into the light of day and listen to its anguished voice. And, in response we gently blow compassionate awareness into its woundedness.

Compassion asks that we alleviate not enable — that we curb our inclination to offer suggestions and make quick fixes. We recognize that the first, and most important, act of compassion is to listen. Our only agenda is to hear the suffering present in the words, body language, and inflection of another. We listen to be compassion’s presence while not assuming that we know or can empathize with the other’s experience. We listen in order to understand how we can bear witness to the suffering of another.

Our compassionate essence assures us that we will not be unaffected by the plight of another. As we listen, we are mindful of how sharing experience of another impacts us. Perhaps we feel the suffering in our body or take on the emotions of another. As we listen, we discern what is the others and what emotions and thoughts are triggered in our self. We breath through those things that are not ours and release them.

Through intentional listening we find the most fertile soil in which to plant our seeds of compassion. Instead of burrowing our seeds deeply into this space, we toss them into the wind of suffering trusting that they land exactly where compassion is most needed. We are not the directors of compassion, we are assistant gardeners who share compassion with another. The master gardener who suffers tends the soil so that it bursts forth with the fruits of compassion.

Sowers of seeds, sharers of compassion we listen, form our questions, listen again, and respond in loving ways. This is how compassion calls me, calls you, calls us. And, in this listening to our self and others, we acknowledge the anguish that comes from our inability to fix. We breath through and release the arrogance that lies at the roots of our anguish.

We are mindfully aware that compassion begins as a seed in our own garden. Compassion turned inward fertilizes our garden. We use the seeds we harvest from our own garden to alleviate the suffering of another. Through self compassion, we grow into master of our own gardens who guides others in bringing forth the fruits of compassion in his/her garden.


Vanessa F. Hurst is a Mindful Coach, Compassion Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Author who interweaves her inner wisdom in all she touches. Contact Vanessa

More from Vanessa: www.intentandaction.com