According to the Andean view of energy, we are always in ayni—interchange—with the kawsay pacha—the cosmos of living energy—because we are influencing energy through our intention. As thinking, action-oriented human beings, we are in continual relationship with the energy of the kawsay pacha; however, we can unconscious to these energy exchanges. One of our primary goals as paqos is to increase our consciousness, and to bring clarity and choice to our energy exchanges. This means we have to become observers of—and ultimately masters of—our intent.
What is intent? According to dictionaries, it is an aim or a goal, the purposeful mental movement that initiates an action, the way we direct mind toward an object or conceive of an idea directed toward an outcome. According to certain schools of psychology, intention is a mental state influenced by desires, needs, beliefs and the like, and the action taken to achieve the stated desire, fulfill the belief, or satisfy the need. On a more purely mental plane, it is the power to think and then to rethink, to direct and then to redirect. Because so much of the landscape of our desires, needs, and beliefs lies below the threshold our of conscious mind— in the realm of the subconscious or shadow self—we may be unclear or even blind to our “true” intentions. We may think we are acting on an intention for one reason, but the reality that drives us may be buried or screened, fueled from needs and beliefs from our subconscious.
Furthermore, we live by the stories we believe—and create. These arise from the combination of our unconscious beliefs and needs and our conscious choices about what to believe. As author Steve Almond writes: “I’ve placed my faith in stories because I believe this to be the basic unit of human consciousness. The stories we tell, and the ones we absorb, are what allows us to pluck meaning from the rush of experience. Only through patient interrogation of these stories can we begin to understand where we are and how we got here.” This “patient interrogation” is what can help us evolve our consciousness as paqos, because in addition to keeping our poq’pos (energy bodies) “clean” from hucha, we can prevent ourselves from creating hucha in the first place by paying attention to—and healing—aspects of ourselves driven purely by our psychology (emotions, triggers, projections, etc.).
So as paqos, our first course of study has to be the study of the self. Paqos tell us that we each are the center of the universe because we can only know the world and others through our own perceptions. Therefore, the landscape of our own perceptions must become the field of our study. There are many ways to begin this exploration: mindfulness, psychological therapy, shadow work, cultivating the observer self, and so on. The point is that to work energy out there (the world), you first have to start in here (the self). That’s why I call our work a path of conscious evolution, starting with the evolution of the self. To be true to the tradition, I should say that we don’t have to be self-analytical. Doing saminchakuy every day will release hucha (heaviness) and over time clarify your sense of self and enhance your personal power to be in more perfect ayni. I have found, however, that combining our Andean mystical energy work with some kind of self-work, especially shadow work, speeds up our personal evolution.
In my coaching work, I developed an acronym, CALM, as an easy reminder of how to begin this process of stepping outside habitual, unconscious thoughts and actions and stepping more fully into an awareness of who you really are and what is really driving your ayni. CALM outlines four steps, taken in order, for brining consciousness to your stories, impulses, desires, needs, intentions, communication, and actions—to your ayni. Here are the four steps:
C = Cease
To break the pattern of being in ayni through unconscious drives and impulses, you have to stop and take a time out. In that fraction of a second between intention and actions or words, you have to remember to cease moving and just observe. Actually, you are initiating a new intention and action: to activate your observer self. This place of cessation, or stillness, of qaway (seeing energetically, understanding mystically) is the cradle of change and the energetic fount of awareness. It is the ground state of conscious creation. But you have to remember to disengage for a second or a minute from whatever is happening or whatever you are thinking. You have to stop habitual and unconscious processes in their tracks so that you can bring them to consciousness and evaluate and seek to understand. Only then can you make a new choice, if indeed a new choice is called for.
A = Attend
Once you have ceased the cacophony of mental chatter or the impulse to act robotically in the way you always have, then, in that moment of stillness, you make pay attention. You can attend to yourself. This means consciously observing yourself, granting yourself permission to drill down into your core mental and emotional spaces with the attention and compassion you deserve to give yourself. If you can be more clear-seeing (qaway) about what is going on inside, then you can determine what is motivating you and thus driving your intentions. Which brings you to the third step in the CALM process: listening.
L = Listen
By giving your attention to your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions, you can observe and listen to yourself: Listen to your impulses, listen to your justifications or rationalizations, listen to your story. You can bring consciousness to yourself and the situation. Listening is a kind of observing in that it allows what feels real (your thoughts, emotions, actions) to unfold without judging them. You simply listen to what your words, actions, thoughts, and emotions are saying. Are you being blinded by the fury or worry of the moment? Are you acting or thinking based on beliefs you haven’t examined for decades? Are you acting from the harmonization of your heart and your head, or only from your unexamined needs and impulsive desires? Listening doesn’t have to be a drawn-put analytical process. With practice, you will learn that your core self can speak truly, deeply, and succinctly to you in a flash of insight and understanding.
M = Moderate
As you listen, you can become the moderator of the conflict within or of your unconscious intentions. You can evaluate the situation from a calm, observational stance. You can ask yourself a series of probing questions: Is this what I really feel? What feelings might be deeper, fueling the surface feeling? Why did I have this response to the situation? What other responses could I have had? If I had made a different response, how might I feel differently and how might the situation unfold in a different (more helpful) way? What is the story driving these feelings and this response? You can be the mediator between your knee-jerk habitual words, thoughts, feelings, and actions and new ones that might be more helpful and/or make you feel better—and fuel your ability to influence the kawsay pacha (your ayni) in more productive and efficient ways.
The Andean mystics tells us that the cosmos of living energy is overly abundant. That you can have anything you want, you can create the life you dream about, you can be the person you most want to be—but only in proportion to your personal power. Personal power is the effectiveness and efficiency of your ayni. Personal power and ayni are like an infinity symbol, inextricably intertwined, one leading to the other. Weak personal power = weak ayni. Strong personal power = strong ayni. By using the CALM process you can reduce your hucha and thus improve your personal power, and you can actually prevent yourself from creating that hucha in the first place!
When I teach the tradition, I talk to my students about time: past, present, and future. The reality is that for most of us, they are pretty similar landscapes. We are creatures of habit and thus of predictability. We eat the same 20 core foods, choose the same style clothing over and over, follow the same route to work, and so on. So although we can influence the world of living energy to produce whatever we want, Andean mystics insist that energy must follow intention—and our intentions are mostly unexamined and predicated on what we have always thought, done, felt, etc. So when we look to our future, it is not difficult to discern—it will pretty much look like our present. (And our present usually looks a lot like our past.) Unless, we have invested in our own evolution of consciousness, we are pretty stable creatures mentally and emotionally.
But you don’t have to settle. You are a grand being! You are flexible and intelligent and perceptive. And, most of all, you are a creator. At every moment of every day you have the power to create something new—including a new and grander you. Creation begins within, and then is translated from the self out into the world through your ayni.
As inspirational coach Tony Robbins has said, “Think of all your experiences as a huge tapestry that can be laid out in whatever pattern you wish. Each day you add a new thread to the weaving. Do you craft a curtain to hide behind, or do you fashion a magic carpet that will carry you to unequaled heights.” What Robbins doesn’t tell you (at least not in this quotation) is how to fashion a magic carpet instead of a curtain. The CALM process is one that helps you not only be a great designer, but shows you how to turn that mental design into something concrete and real in the world. Something you intend with clarity and awareness, not from outdated and habitual—and often unconscious—impulses. If energy truly does follow intention, as the paqos tells us it does, then there is nothing more important than making a deep and careful study of your intentions and what is driving them. The CALM process is a place to start.