Closing Rituals Pt 3: Intetnion Setting
The two previous parts of Closing Rituals feed into my big intention setting for the year.Intentions are different than resolutions.Though my personality is one that once I decide something I do it without looking back, overhauling my life with a resolution never works for me.Instead, I set macro intentions for my year. I look back at the things I’ve written, the things that I’m thankful for and usually a theme rises to the top. This is the third and final installment of Closing Rituals. You can find Part I here and Part II here.
Happy New Year!
At the beginning of each practice, as both a student and a teacher, I set an intention. Intentions are different than goals. In previous iterations of me, I was incredibly goal oriented. End-gaining created a very negative cycle of relentlessly pursuing outcomes, either accomplishing and deciding it wasn’t enough, or not accomplishing and tormenting myself for my shortcomings. When I first came to the practice, I didn’t really understand the concept of intention setting or intentional living. To me, they were just goals: I will do this posture or I will get that job. Some of these thing may happen along the way, but they are not the point of an intention. Intention setting is choosing to consciously cultivate a particular way of being, evolving through making choices moment-to-moment, breath-to-breath.
I’m a big believer in reclaiming the magic of everyday life through choice. How many times a week do you commute to work, make lunch, go to the gym, and not fully realize you are doing that thing? Sometimes, I’ll ride my bike to work and not clearly remember all of things that definitely happen in a NYC commute (ie. crazy drivers and traffic and nearly being hit by cars all the time). Instead of mindlessly moving through the majority of my life, I want to mindFULLy experience it. Intentions help me do that.
Intentions take the emphasis off of the laundry list of achievements by focusing on the evolution of you as a person. Along the journey, you probably will cross many things off of the achievement list, but your worth as a person is not tied to it. Ultimately, resolutions in the traditional sense are tied up in value judgements of a person. Not accomplishing equates to deficient. Intentions have built in flexibility where the lists change when the items on it no longer serve the place you’re headed. If you make the moment to moment choice to live in the way you are cultivating, you’re doing it. If you catch yourself going back to old habits and then choose something other than the habit, you’re doing it.
If Part I and Part II weren’t for you, there’s another way in.
Think about the kinds of choices you would make if anything was possible. Many times we create self imposed limits, mostly out of fear, that keep us from expanding. I used to work for a non-profit that brought theater programming to city schools. I remember vividly having a conversation with my mentor, Mark. He told me to, “dream big. Dream as big as you possibly can. Dream as if there are no obstacles. Once you’ve found your dream, we’ll figure out how to make it work.” I’ve taken this into my everyday life, but particularly into intention setting. There is a version of me that is timid and silent, a version of me that is afraid to speak my mind and start ripples, but there is a version of me that wants to change the world. That part of me appears when I takeaway self-imposed limitations and dream as big as I possibly can. Who are you when you are the best version of yourself? Is the best version of you compassionate, kind, adventurous, a risk taker? Let that version of you guide your intention for the upcoming year.
Write down all of the things you’d like to accomplish this upcoming year. Maybe they have to do with your personal life, maybe they have to do with career, maybe they have to do with health and wellness. Whatever they are, usually they look like what a normal resolution looks like, find the commonality. Take a look at these goals from the best version of you. What threads these things together? So, more than just a laundry list of achievements, what is the thing that you would have to cultivate in order to achieve these things?
Then, finish this statement this year is the Year of _______________.
This is my list:
This year, I want to …
apply and choose a grad program.
travel the world teaching yoga.
teach at a major yoga conference.
travel to places I’ve never been to.
run my first half marathon post-injury.
write more articles and submit them to major publications.
create a community of inclusion at Class Heroes.
nail my float.
direct, edit, produce, a DOPE yoga series.
Many many more things on this list.
The common thread between all of these things is that, for me, they take an incredible amount of courage. In achieving each of these, I have to take a risk, put myself in a space of vulnerability, make tough choices, and courageously follow my heart and my gut.
This year is the Year of Courage Moments.
Each day, I have the opportunity, through mindfulness, to choose the courageous path. That means speaking up when I’d rather hide. That means showing up authentically, when it’s easier to be someone else. That means having the hard conversations. That means deciding the direction my heart wants to go and following through even when the road gets bumpy and the headlights don’t work. My macro intention for the year sets me up to live 2018 vibrantly. Along the way, I’ll create other sister intentions for the months. I’ll check in with myself weekly, if not daily, to see if I have been living courageously and if not, why and how can I make small choices in that direction.
What’s your intention?
Have a courageous new year!