The Practice of Intentional Living

Intentional Living

One of the aspects of Mindfulness practice is that of “paying attention on purpose”.  So, mindfulness is not just about staying present but really about taking our awareness and placing it/putting it on something that we can stay present with.

Setting an intention is the practice of presenting to oneself the fundamental motivation for doing something and remembering this fundamental motivation as we do this something. For instance, over the last few weeks I have set an intention to eat my lunch mindfully, engaging my five primary senses. When I get distracted by thoughts, I remember the fundamental motivation for my practice during lunch and come back to engaging my senses.

But that’s not all; the practice of living intentionally wakes me up in times of emotional distress. When I am wallowing in pain, when I am restless and want to so badly be somewhere else but here, intentionally revisiting this pain and restlessness, with curiosity (rather than resistance) steadies me, awakens me to the richness of my experience.

Yesterday was a rather long day at work for me. I ended up working from 10 to 7pm which is not my usual timing or pace. I had set up to rush from the moment I realised it was 9:15am and I hadn’t yet gotten anything in place to leave-shower, lunch, client prep, workshop prep,etc. That was enough to put me on a rush and resistance mode. I was snarly with people at home, wanting them to work faster, get things going, at the pace I realised I needed to move on this day. The day ended with a very hangry (hungry + angry) me yelling at my husband (who was home all day) for not having dinner ready before I arrived.

The past week actually had been a steady one. I had spent several moments of my days intentionally, pausing to breathe, meditate and stay present. But that’s the thing about switching back into auto-mode though right? It is easy to just set ourselves up to believe that all our moments and routine actually replicate one another, that we can go on doing the same things everyday and we will not miss a thing. Life though is dynamic, every moment is different from the other, every pain is another fresh one to meet with. But that is not how my auto-pilot mode perceived this day.

We set ourselves up for intense emotional strain on rush days when we fail to take note of the resistance with which we begin our day, the resistance with which we meet our difficult moments. If we can meet our day, our lives, with more intention- awareness (with a good measure of curiosity) of rush, resistance, pain and joy we can perhaps shift the way we meet our life from moment to moment.

One of the things I have been learning in the 8 week Mindfulness program I am part of right now is to shine a good measure of intention upon the micro-moments of my day. So as I walk, really being with the practice of walking, as I well up with what I call “anger” to really be with that experience of anger, and as I find myself in an emotional whirlwind that has been acted out, to really ask myself what was the intention that led to the action. These have been some of the ways I have been practicing living intentionally. What would living intentionally look like for you? And what practice might you like to incorporate in your week to live more intentionally?

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