Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Awareness and Intent

Awareness and Intent
'Tis the New Year and the time of resolutions. While I am a big fan of clarity and "plotting a course" for the future, I think the way a lot of us go about making new year resolutions actually sets us up for failure. We set up an all or nothing laundry list of goals and things that we will give up that often ends up hanging over us like a leaden weight. When we "mess up" on some part of the list we feel like a failure and all the critical voices in our heads come to the forefront. 

Yoga can help us approach the changes we want to bring to our lives in a mindful and compassionate manner. It helps us do this in the same way it helps us grow a beautiful, sweet and steady yoga asana on the mat: by cultivating awareness and intent in every moment.

In our yoga practice, when we "fall out of a pose" we learn not to slump into a heap of criticism and self-loathing, instead we say, "How wonderful is this moment? Hmmm, why did that happen? I notice that I came out of my pose and now I have an opportunity to correct it!" Suddenly,  we are back in the present, back in the pose and have an opportunity to recognize what factors caused us to come out of the pose in the first place. We can then go forward with continued mindfulness and equanimity. Over time we become steady and unmoved by the whims and winds of change that swirl around us.

Life is a "practice" also. Nothing, especially change, happens all at once. We cultivate it little by little and with lots of practice.

We can approach what I like to call our, "intent for change" in the same manner. Let's say I have decided my intent for the year is to eat a more wholesome whole-food diet that will nourish my body, mind and spirit. On the very first day my husband bakes my favorite cookies. My favorite! I remember my intent, but the cookies call to mel — so yummy and fresh out of the oven. I eat FOUR. Sigh. I feel the sinking feeling of failure approach, I start to cut my self down for being so weak, but then, I stop. I say, "OK, I ate these cookies. This was not part of my intent. My intent is a good one, it is one I truly want and I can embrace it in this moment and go forward. I am a good person and I can observe myself and make postive adjustments when I need to." I also ask myself, "Why did I need that cookie so badly? What need was it filling inside me? Did I even really enjoy it?" By asking these questions I open a revolutionary inquiry into my own mind, into the depths of who I am and what makes me tick. I start on a journey of a thousand miles with that one step, instead of sitting down in the dirt to cry and give up.

I wish you peace, progress and compassion in all of your intentions this year. May you be steeped in awareness and surrounded by light.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Thanks Teal! That was real, honest, open and encouraging. It is important to keep the right focus and never let our short falls keep us from forging forward to better health and well-being. So thanks for helping us to be "aware and intent"! All the best to you this 2011 year of health!!! Andrea