One of the most potent tools I've gained from a yoga practice is working with intentions. When I would teach classes, I would instruct the participants to first ground themselves in the Now moment (what is true for you ... right now?) and awakening and relaxing around all that is. I often overlook the energetic backpack I've been lugging around all day and when I take the time to pause, I am always surprised to discover it is there, weighing me down. But rather than lapse into resistance or frustration over why I've been a pack mule for stress and worry, I can offer myself gentle care and acknowledgement Yes, you ARE tired ... look what you've been shouldering.
Next, I would instruct the class to create an intention for their practice - for the next hour and a half of their day. An intention can be some quality or aspect of one's being that we want to open up to or cultivate, say presence or peacefulness or ease. An intention can also be a heartfelt wish for oneself or another or the world and one can offer up the fruits of one's practice for another. In this way, the actions become prayerful.
Either way, an intention is a means of aligning oneself to the present moment. Intentions are not goals, which are future based. Intentions clearly anchor us in the Now. How do I want to BE in this process? What do I want to express through my thoughts/words/deeds/actions? Throughout practice, we would take a pause to reconnect with our intentions because - as you probably well know - the mind quickly wanders off into the future or the past. I know I stumble into goal setting and measuring my progress against some future/yet to be known outcome. Goals are all fine and good, but they represent the very end point of a journey and to focus merely upon the goal is like putting blinders on: too often I overlook unexpected opportunities or gifts because I am fixated upon the outcome.
All this is to say ... when I find myself off balance, thrashing through my day, frustrated, tangled up in disappointment (which is really to be ensnared by expectations) that is a good sign I've forgotten all any intentions I may have set for myself. All I have to do to hit the reset button is to pause, then reconnect.
Whatever I do, I try to set an intention. I want to stay awake for the entire journey. Because I change throughout the process, so too my intentions may shift and adapt and change. But that is the beauty of this practice: it allows me to unfold mindfully within the actions of my life.
There are many ways to work with intentions: writing in a journal, creating a Vision board, establishing mindful moments of prayer or meditation, rituals, altars, a word stamped on a piece of jewelry, a tattoo, mandalas, art journaling to name a few favorites of mine. teaser: I share one of my year-long practices next week.
Because I like to connect with Nature and the changing cycles and seasons, I've been creating prayer flags as a way of working with my intentions. Giving form to the values, ideals, qualities that I want to cultivate within myself, in my work, and in my life.
As I prepare for autumn - my favorite season! - I know I will be hunkering down and tending to some deep work ... The Big Project to name one ... and all the things that too easily fall by the wayside in the busyness of summer. I want to begin ready, with my intentions in place and my A-Team ready to roll with me.
I am wanting to cultivate and open to trust, deep listening, love ...
creative abundance, connection, expanded vision ...
strength, grounded nurturance, and magic ...
always, always magic (along with pie ... two good things!)
|family anniversary - 8 years celebrated with a cherry pie|
I am ready to roll up my sleeves but I am also ready to sink into it all. Relax and receive. Add to and witness magic unfolding in each moment.
Join me in working with intentions & practice in The Gift of Practice starting September 22.