One of my yoga teachers starts every class suggesting that we set an intention for our practice that day. The difference between an intention and a goal is subtle. A goal, as we all know, is directed towards a future outcome. An intention, on the other hand, is more a reminder about the present.
In yoga class, for instance, an intention might be to accept where you are today without judgment. Or to appreciate all aspects of your body. Or it could be an intention to come back to your breath when your mind begins to wander. (Boy, do I need that one!)
You certainly don’t need a yoga class to set an intention though. An intention could be a dedication of your love and energy for a day (or an hour) to a loved one, or to something or someone that you need to better understand. It could be an intention to let go of old hurts or emotions, to choose forgiveness, to practice kindness, acceptance, and love – including and most especially for your self.
As basic as it is, a good one for me is just to stay present. I’m pretty easily distracted and have been a daydreamer since I was a kid. Staying present on a consistent basis would be a real accomplishment.
Although I have to say that I am getting better at it. The 10 minutes of meditation that I’ve been doing most mornings seems to be helping – I think.
Yesterday morning I decided my intention for the day would be “flow.” I wanted to stay in the flow, and stop the mental gymnastics over every thought or decision. Just let it flow, whatever “it” is. And just to be safe so that I wouldn’t forget, I wrote myself a note and stuck it to a kitchen cabinet where I’d see it many times throughout the day. Just as a gentle reminder. And I think it worked.
When I started writing this post, my monkey mind began to question the value of it – “people aren’t going to be interested in this,” “no one will read it,” and so on. Practicing my intention, I let it go and wrote it anyway. Flow.
I also played quite a few rounds of “let’s pretend” with my almost 3-year-old great niece, instead of trying to distract and convince her to play something else (let’s pretend can be agony – don’t ask). And guess what? It was fun, and she was happy. Nothing better than that. Flow.
At the end of each yoga class, as we bow our heads in one last moment of silent reflection, this same teacher then suggests that we offer gratitude for something. It’s a beautiful way to close out our practice and to go about the rest of the day – in gratitude for all we have in our lives.
I love all of this stuff – setting intentions, expressing gratitude. Who doesn’t?
My question is – why is it so darn hard to be consistent with it? Or is it just me?
Since the intention I set yesterday really did set a nice course for the day, I’m doing it again today.
As far as gratitude goes, well, I already do end each day, just before I nod off, expressing gratitude. This one is easy because, like most of us, I have so much to be grateful for.
While I’m talking gratitude, I just have to say how very grateful I am for every minute you spend reading anything of mine. Thank you again.
So, here’s to intentionally and thankfully living with more intention and gratitude every day. Really, could there be anything more important?
Till next time,