Everything Flows Onward

finding my dharma. living my dharma.

Intention June 9, 2009


“I was going to copy my blog from today about setting intentions, but I decided that I wouldn’t. Most of you know about setting intentions and you probably live by them, or at least use them frequently.

I find that setting intentions often is the best way for me to get anything accomplished. Some may argue that intentions and goals are the same thing, but not for me. Goals are hard to tie down, intentions are things that I work on.

What sorts of intentions do you use or live by? What intentions bring your spirit into a better place?”

Yogirev (from Yoga Journal Community)

I, in turn, went to respond to Yogirev’s blog but my comment turned into a blog of it’s own and because of that, I am posting it here as well! Enjoy!:

I agree with your differentiation of “intention” and “goal” completely. Goals to me are more black and white (“I want to do x by this time next year”), and are backed with ambition, while intentions are more encompassing (“My intention is to live with compassion”) and are backed by subtle energies.

I have two intentions that I gravitate towards, and I often end up using them as mantras. Much in the way we often recall intentions during yoga class to keep ourselves in the present moment, I will often repeat my intention to myself several times during the day.

The first one is from the poem by Rumi in which he says, “Let the beauty that we love be what we do.” I first began using this one on the mat, to encourage myself to stay dedicated to making my practice an artistic expression of divinity, and then I realized that it was equally, if not more important to do this off the mat as well. At the end of the day, the intention is to practice authenticity no matter the circumstances. It reminds me to stay true to myself in all situations and to act with strength, flexibility, grace, compassion. It amazes me that it can be such a subtle shift in my energy but it completely changes interactions with people around me. I work at a very, very busy Starbucks and sometimes when things are absolutely crazy, I can lose myself to frustration and forget that at the end of the day, my job is simply to make the cup of coffee that makes someone else’s day. When I remember this quote during these times, I can come back quickly from that edge of frustration and appreciate that it might just be a cup of coffee someone wants, but it is also that “coffee shop” interaction they are looking for. And I will quickly see that the beauty I love is that interaction, so I can let that be what sustains me. The moment I authentically connect with another person, my spirit feels completely realigned.

The second intention I set is also one that began and the mat and turns into a mantra through out my day, as well. That is, “Meet life where it is.” On the mat, it started off as, “Meet yourself where you are.” Obviously, it was a reminder that I change from day to day and that I have to use the present moment,  always, as the starting point. It doesn’t matter if yesterday my hips were more open than they are today. Today this is where I am and this is my starting point. I’m one of those yoga students who always choses the challenging variations and who is never one to back off, so this became very important for me to use on the mat so as to avoid injuring myself and so that I will not have to give up my practice to nurse any injuries. Again, this mantra is incredibly important off the mat, too. How many times in our lives do we get upset because of the way things are and because we can not change it? This intention has done wonders, for me at least, to remind me that it is not life I should wish to change, but instead I should change my reaction to life. Thich Nhat Hanh often says in his books that we have no reason to ever be upset with our circumstances, because 1) maybe we can change the circumstances and if so, we should do it and then we will not be unhappy and 2) maybe we can not change the circumstances and if this is the case, why waste time dwelling on that which can not be changed? We have to meet life where it is. Use the present moment as the starting point and work with what we are given. For me, this mantra/intention is a call to action. It’s saying, “Don’t sit there and dwell on the situation, stand up and deal with the situation.” For me, if I give myself the chance to slip into frustration, it is nearly impossible to come back from it. I use this mantra to catch myself from falling into my ego’s trap.

The power of intention is amazing. It boggles my mind sometimes how miraculously these two intentions work for me. They keep me from the depths of frustration, keep me in the present moment and keep me moving forward with grace.


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