Today, February 19th, marks six months since I started writing down a daily intention. The truth behind the maxim “what we practice gets stronger” has moved from intellect to embodiment for me. In August, my daughter came across a a 5 year memory journal at a gift shop. I had been exploring the power of intention setting as an important aspect of mindfulness practice and decided at that moment to commit to setting a daily intention.
How do I want to show up today?
My first intention was inspired by this Rumi quote that popped up in my daily gratitude app. Tuning in for a few minutes every morning and contemplating how I want to show up for this life is liberating. It is a deliberate and meaningful act of courage, compassion and connection. Over these past six months, this practice has deepened my awareness of how my actions reflect my values. This further strengthens my inner resources to be forgiving of my imperfections and to support my effort to contribute to an inclusive and just world. Tuning in so that I can be truthful of what is happening in my body, heart and mind encourages me to be open to how my perspectives and interactions affect my immediate world (family and friends) and the larger society. It is an act of embracing change and seeing clearly when we are resisting change. Clinging to the status quo in our inner and outer lives becomes a self-imposed prison. Setting a daily intention can uncover the keys to freedom.
Intention Setting: A Brief Yet Powerful Meditation Practice
Every morning, I take a few minutes to tune in to what is happening inside, in my relationships and in the world. Usually, I will sit in a quiet place with my eyes closed. I will take a few deep breaths to help me settle into the space. I will notice the weight of my body sitting and usually place my hands over my heart center. I find this gentle touch helps me ease into being honest with what is occurring in my inner and outer life. I will ask myself, “How do I want to show up today? How can I support the living of my values?” I will notice the sensations in my body as they will reveal feelings and emotions that I may have ignored. I will consider any interactions I already had that morning and may have throughout the day. I often start my intention with the words, “May I…” I try to dig deep and come up with something expansive and inclusive. It can be anything you want. Some days it is super simple – May I be at ease. Other days it is more expansive – May I be present in all conversations. May I bring a loving awareness to all my experiences. May I pause periodically to help me remember. Sometimes I am repeating the same intention with different words. It is unique and personal to you! It only needs to take a couple of minutes. I write it down because I like reading it out loud to etch it into my heart and mind. I also enjoy looking back at my intentions. It further integrates my effort to live my values and be the change I want to see in the world. That is the essence of this brief meditation – to be the change we want to see in the world. Our world needs us to show up!
[E]xpanding our ability to feel comfortable in our own skin and in the world, so that we can be there as much as possible for other people, is a very worthy way to spend a human life.Pema Chodron, from Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World
I encourage you to try setting a daily intention even for just a week. See the effects. You can decide when, where and how to do this. At minimum, this will give you a couple of minutes of stillness and practice in listening to your heart. What matters to you? How do you want to live your life? Intention is the beginning. It is the planting of a seed. Water it and watch what grows.