An Intentional Life. Wait, What?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Beginning any journey is both exciting, scary, and exhausting, especially if it's a journey that involves uprooting and changing your life completely. There's just so much to think about: itinerary, packing, finding a place to stay (or live), what to squeeze in as a "last time," what to do to introduce yourself into a new home, to make a new house a home, to make a new social circle and develop deep friendships. The list could go on and on. Living life with intention, or sankalpa, is the same, really, only it backs up a bit to the point where you just start to contemplate the "why" of the journey, the point that must needs proceed the "how."

Let's look at the "why" and the "what" of intention, the meaning behind the journey. First, what is intention? In my yoga classes, I tell practitioners it's a value or character trait of importance to them, such as courage, curiosity, kindness, or grace. It's something already of value deep inside them. It's a reason for showing up on the mat, something to focus on, to work towards, to explore. According to Merriam-Webster, it's resolve: a determination to act a certain way, or what one intends to do. Mary Oliver puts it a bit more poetically when she demands, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

Why intention? It sets a road map before us so we do not aimlessly wander through life, taking a little of everything and giving nothing, or finding ourselves staring at cacti when we'd really prefer pine trees. And yes, it makes life both a little harder and a little easier. It's a little harder because it requires soul searching, finding your core values, digging deep. It's a little harder because it means holding out for the great when the good might be right in front of you right now. It's a little harder because it requires patience, determination, and going against what many other people might want, expect, or demand of you. It's a little harder because it takes time to see effort pay off. It's a little harder because it might mean upsetting your own perception of who you think you should be based on others' feedback to discover who you really and truly are meant to be. It's hard! But it also makes life a little easier because you know what you want out of life. It's a little easier because you know exactly who you are deep down, without needing approval from anyone else. It's a little easier because you have the freedom to say, "No" when you need to, knowing that a better "Yes" is on its way. It's a little easier because you have the peace of knowing that you can enjoy your one wild and precious life, and contribute your own unique gifts to the world in the process.

We'll talk about specific intentions over the course of the life of this journal, but I am curious about your thoughts so far. Have you considered setting an intention, a sankalpa, for your life? A map for your journey? What is/was that process like for you?

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