Lenten Intentions: Setting Daily Intentions
For the record, I’m not great about Lent but I do try to give something up or fast as it were. When I was 10 I tried to give up math homework but the priest said that wasn’t really fasting. I was foiled. One year in high school I gave up eyeshadow because I looked forward to it every day and no one really noticed but I did. One year I gave up self-doubt and promptly failed. This year I’m doing daily intentions as you do with yoga and secular saint Dolly Parton does something similar every day. It’s been really nice.
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The past few weeks have been very busy and I’ve written about my sleep issues before. I decided to do some things to help me relax. I started doing yoga for sleep and it was really beneficial. I also attempted to meditate but I made a point to take better care of myself and tune out things that weren’t benefiting me. I have a tendency to obsess about things that have gone wrong or things I said that could hurt people or things I’ve done that weren’t perfect. It sometimes can keep me from enjoying my daily activities. That being said, as I’ve gotten older and experienced things….I’ve gotten better. I think sometimes when you have a personality like that you attract people who Oprah calls “energy vampires.” One perk of being a working mom, you only have so much energy to give. I’m getting better about letting go of things. However, I have always had problems sleeping. Even as a kid, I used to have comic books to read for after I was supposed to be asleep. Since my mind races, it can be hard to meditate and to carve out time for meditation on top of everything else. I’m not a morning person so I generally have to plan out my days the night before. I pick out my outfit, pack my breakfast and lunch, and it’s that problem of things that should take 10 minutes so you put it off but then it’s 10:45 and you don’t get to bed until 11:15 because it takes longer than you think. Anyway, after watching a very “woo” meditation video I did decide to get an anxiety relief essential oil which has been surprisingly great. It smells really woodsy like 80% of the smells are woods. However, it reminds me of camping in the mountains as a kid with my family. It reminds me of a time when my Dad was still alive and I felt completely safe. Over the summers when we lived in Colorado, we used to camp at Rocky Mountain National Park every weekend. When I was in grad school they suggested aromatherapy as a way to calm down and it does snap you into focus. It’s been nice to just relax and calm down.
So far my intentions have been calm, patience, gratitude, focus, and savor. The patience one came in handy as someone would not let me merge into the lane I needed for my exit and I handled it well-ish because I wasn’t as late as I thought. I could still take the next exit. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. I mean in the scheme of things and of the countless times I’ve made that commute that was the first time that has happened. So it’s been nice to try to focus my day around an idea. It’s that basic idea of theory into practice. I love hearing about theory. I mean it informs so much. I also work in education and I know that people hate it because it is so abstract but honestly acknowledging why you do things is important as well. Here are my tips for setting intentions:
I read all the time and I remember in grad school one of my fave professors would make us choose a “most interesting sentence.” Sometimes you read things that are just the truth. The patience intention came from Tolstoy’s words about the greatest warriors being “patience and time.” If I’m inspired by something it’s been nice trying to think about it.
I’m trying to keep it simple. As someone who overthinks, I think setting a word intention makes things concise and clear. Is it easy? No. Have I had to check Pinterest for inspiration? Yes. But it’s reminding me to be more focused and driven on one thing.
Much like Hamilton, I write everything down. I have literally hundreds of pages of journals that are straight up mortifying but it helps me understand everything I’m feeling. When you write things down you get to focus on what is truly on your mind. I read something I wrote after I lost my father and it was so incredibly honest but it was really funny. I realized that I lost a lot of my sense of humor in the past few years due to outside circumstances. Also, you know having a kid and being tired and experiencing the world in a more vulnerable place. I’m trying to get that humor back. I found this intentional journal and I love guided writing. Sometimes when your mind goes everywhere you need that focus.
I’m a part of a program called The Fit here in Columbus. So on top of my morning workouts, it did occur to me I am a person who consistently works out so I should just own it, I have started practicing yoga again. Basically, I feel a million times better-like I always do when I consistently do yoga. My body feels great but when I move I can’t overthink. When I focus on my physical being, it allows me to tap into spaces I don’t even think about. I love following my breath in yoga. I didn’t realize you could breathe in different places in your body. I didn’t realize how much tension I was carrying in my jaw. I love this new consciousness. Movement is a great way to focus and reset. Do what you love. But as someone who loves to read and binge TV-it’s something I need to remind myself to do. Before I worked out, I didn’t have any workout clothes. They are worth investing in. I like colorful stuff myself.
I’m a huge music fan as you may have gathered. Now that I have some agency over the music I listen to in my car, it’s been revelatory and reflective on my commutes. I love music that makes you think or just makes you happy. I worked at my college radio station and met a bunch of people who loved music as much as I did. So it’s been fun listening to music that reminds me of certain people that I haven’t thought about in years. Again, sometimes listening to music sets my intentions as well. I mean we are talking old TV on the Radio cuts and memories about talking about them with people I love and respect. Listening to Guided by Voices and remembering really intimate moments with people I love. Here’s an oldie but goodie that came up and it reminded me of the first time I heard the song. I was wearing a crushes jacket and I was at a bonfire. Even though I grew up in the burbs, there was still some more rural parts of the burb and we were at a friends house who could have bonfires. It was just a moment that I realized was kind of peak 17-year-old happy right? You have the future ahead of you and you are with your favorite people. But the line “this can’t last forever” is a good way of kind of thinking about fortune’s wheel (as they called it in the Middle Ages) but enjoying the moment. That’s thinking with intentions.
Do you have a way of setting intentions?
How do you do it? Feel free to share. It’s been incredibly enjoyable to create these ideas and it’s been beneficial. Love to you all. How do you stay in the present? Do you struggle like Virginia Woolf with the idea of “There was a spectator in me who, even while I squirmed and obeyed, remained observant, note taking for some future revision.” I struggle with that as well. Trying to focus on the present. I love you all.
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