For the most part, people tend to “think big” when it comes to attempting to create real change in life. While thinking big is not necessarily a bad idea, when it comes to learning to live with intention, we must practice thinking small. Change happens moment to moment. It is what we do with the present moments that most affects the minutes of the hours of our days. That said, in terms of making changes in 2014, why not start with a clean slate each day?
When a new year rolls around, resolution setting helps to light the fire for so many. Within the creation of a resolution is the implication that you are not okay right now. Yoga philosophy says you are. You are right where you should be at this moment. This is a difficult concept to navigate when faced with the many obstacles that can be on our Path as we navigate the "human condition". From a yogic perspective we can ask, “now what”? What do we intend to do from this point- at this moment?
One of the most poignant moments as a yoga instructor came many years ago during a short conversation with a young woman who was very ill. She had pancreatic cancer that had progressed to stage 4, yet managed to attend classes for about 6 months up to that point. When I told her how much I admired her courage for continuing to attend yoga class and continue to learn to breathe through what she was going through…right NOW…in her life, she responded in a way that took my breath away. Tearfully, she shared that her intention for her yoga practice was to be nicer. To…BE…nicer. She told me that if she lost the battle (she did), she did not want friends and family to remember her as a sad, mean, angry, frightened person. I will never forget this and it has continued to be an inspiration to me as a yoga teacher.
Setting an intention for the day is a very powerful plan. The amazing spiritual Master, Thich Nhat Hanh wrote about this in a potent little book, Peace is Every Step”. “Every morning when we wake up, we have 24 brand new hours to live. What a precious gift!”
The Sanskrit word for intention is sankalpa. Sankalpa is part of an ancient sutra (thread of wisdom) in yogic philosophy that means “heart’s desire”. The concept of truly nurturing this deep desire is part of the 8-limbed path of yoga (Ashtanga yoga). Intention is the spark that ignites the will for us to live in a way that will ultimately allow us to live our truth, our dharma; to do what we were born to do in this life. From this point of presence, we willfully step into an energy field (a state of consciousness) that we have created.
Guest of the Day
A couple of months ago I found myself in a very tumultuous time in my life. Right in the middle of a ridiculously huge amount of “life-stuff”, I walked into a hotel lobby near Pittsburg, where my daughter Rachel and I were staying in order to co-present at a Health and Physical Education Conference the next day to represent West Chester University’s Kinesiology Department. My mind was not settled. I was feeling exhausted and frustrated.
I stepped up to the registration desk to find “Welcome Ms. Donley! You are our Guest of the Day!” It turns out that what I “won” that day was an upgraded room that happened to be over the laundry area (soothing white-noise, actually), and across the room from a barking service dog (not soothing).
While the presentation went okay after about 4 hours of very interrupted sleep, the greatest part of the trip for me (besides being with my daughter) was the piece of paper that I requested from the front desk- my “Guest of the Day” sign. The girl at the front desk said, “uhhh…sure...you can have it if you really want it”. I said, “I REALLY do”. It hangs on my bathroom mirror to remind me- every day- that I am a guest here on this amazing planet. I want (and deserve) to be present, to be focused for it all. This simple morning ritual has allowed me to set an intention daily that aligns with my heart’s desire for that day.
I have attached one for you. J
Print it out. Print out 2 or 3! Write your name in bold letters in the open space. Post where you will see it every morning and possibly throughout the day. Take some deep breaths as you look at it. Let it be your motivation to think more positively, eat well, practice yoga postures or go for a mindful walk. Let it blossom into being an inspiration to others.
You have 24 brand new hours to live. You have a clean slate. Now what?