Meditation, Intention, & Other Things That I Suck At

(aka Yoga Journal Week 4)

levitating boy

Image by Salima Pirani

In the beginning of every class, Sonya gives us the opportunity to reset our minds and establish an intention for the practice. At first I was like, “Grr, lady! Let’s get to the bendy stuff!” It was so hard to even think about meditating because I felt like such a…poser. It’s an old school word, I know, but I can’t think of a better one. Sitting cross-legged, meditating, just seemed like I was pretending to be something I’m not, feigning a spirituality that wasn’t mine.

You think this next paragraph is going to be the intro to my mental breakthrough. It’s not. I still suck at meditating. I can’t levitate or anything. I certainly don’t see images of Buddha under a tree. Trying to focus on any one thing in my mind is like herding feral cats covered in fleas. My mind skips around. I begin to breathe so shallowly, so unevenly, I’m surprised that I’m even alive.  After about five or six classes, I started to feel like a meditating failure. I ordered a Thich Nhat Hanh book on Amazon to abate my depression.

Then one morning while I was watering the grass seeds in my lawn, it hit me–start small. I can approach meditation like I do everything else in life: set small goals and try to enjoy the journey. The thought came just as I was getting irritated with the grass seeds. Even after warm weather and religious watering they were still just sad-looking little seeds. Only a few seeds showed some spunk. A few is better than none. My consistency and patience was paying off…at glacial speeds, nonetheless, but progress is progress.

Likewise, I’m not going to achieve transcendence so quickly. But what I can do is set small goals. I can breathe each breath like it’s the power of life, not just a tool for survival. I can set an intention for each practice.

I see the practicality, the power, of setting an intention before a practice. I’m sure that it’s different for everyone but for me, setting an intention is the first small step of turning my mind inward and ultimately reaping the benefits of this meditation stuff:

  • What emotions am I bringing to the mat this morning? How can I use those to help my practice? Is there anything pinned up that could hinder me?
  • How’s my body feeling this morning? Is it in dominator-beast-mode or do I just need to zen-out today?
  • What am I grateful for? How can I express that in the next hour?

The last point is the newest addition. The #blossomingyogis challenge on Tumblr made me think of something that I’m grateful for everyday. I usually do that through prayer but now it’s automatically associated with my practice, too. (See, social media can instill good habits!)

Those three points help me set my intention. They help me focus my mind, turn inward, and find some good stuff that will help me through the day. Yep. I should be levitating in no time!



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