Thursday, September 28, 2006

Intentions: Heartfelt Thoughts Requiring Action, or Pavingstones on the Road to Hell? Discuss!

Yesterday I talked about The Schedule. It sounds like an anal thing to have, and also like a burden. I wrote that I liked The Schedule, and I do, but I didn't know why. After going to yoga class this week, I know why I like The Schedule.

The instructor talked about intentions and actions. With regard to yoga practice, she was referring to how we move our bodies. Bodies naturally move in the easiest way possible which is not necessarily the correct way. The easiest way to move could mean that the lower back is overcompensating for a lack of flexibility in the legs because the back is more flexible and giving than the hips. For me, it is my shoulders that want to come forward. She has to come over to me and push them where they should go. To force ourselves to do a pose the correct way when our bodies aren't doing it naturally could cause injury. Whatever the reason why the body isn't moving the way it's intended to, the answer is to carefully correct the movement; feel it and practice it until it becomes natural.

This means you have to be aware; aware of what your body is doing and feeling. In yoga, you have to move consciously in order to move correctly.

That's when my jaw dropped open because I had the thought, and so it is in life!

I started thinking about it more and I noticed that when I do not pay attention to make sure my intentions match my actions, it caused disappointment and sometimes aggravation for my family and friends. Following through with action feels a lot better than saying, "Oh, I meant to do that." Those are empty words whereas actions are tangible and harder to miss.

I realized that when I matched my action with my intention I have found balance and satisfaction. I like feeling that way, and I like bringing those emotions forth in other people. It's very satisfying to know that I am having a positive effect on people that I care about.

I learned something new: this is the time to seek the truth. Remembering that truth is a muddy, murky place, yet it is vitally important. I learned to look at the situations in my life again and question them. Intentions might be present but that is not enough when the action is not. Is my intention unrealistic? Why put it out there if I don't have the energy to follow through? If my intention is reasonable, what immediate action can I take? It makes sense to me to ask these kinds of questions. I can see where there is imbalance in my life.

I have intentions galore; very, very good intentions that are heartfelt and evident when I write long To Do lists or when I tell a friend I want to do one thing or another. The intentions are feelings and they go unexpressed unless action is taken. This disconnect frustrates me and those around me when after listening to me they don't see me follow through. In this way they don't understand my feelings because I am not making the effort to convey them in a meaningful way. I get it now; I know that thinking about something is not good enough.

BIG realization.

What I understand now is that action is just as valuable as intention. I have to look at my intentions and see if they are unrealistic. Maybe there are too many. I am limited in my capacity to follow through with every intention I have, as I am human and there are 24 hours in a day. I realize I need to shift my focus and set clear goals, prioritize, and then set about to accomplish them thoroughly and deliberately. This is a new to me. I hadn't thought of modifying the intentions, which to me meant modifying my feelings. That seemed counterintuitive and more than a little impossible. When I initially thought about taking more actions, I felt overwhelmed and defeated from the start because I have so many intentions. It doesn't have to be this way, I see that now. This new way of thinking places more emphasis on the entire equation which serves the valuable goal of expressing myself to others, and can only forge closeness in my relationships. (Or, annoy people to the point of severing all ties with me. Either way, at least it's honest.)

How does this fit in with The Schedule? I know now that my attempt to schedule myself down to what time I wash the dishes was a way to match action with intention, albeit in a very basic way. It sounds ridiculous to write down simple tasks to do at certain times, but it actually does make sense for me. It makes sense, because it works for me. Some people can do this naturally. I cannot. That is my limitation. I will learn because it is important to me, and because I am paying attention. I hope that is enough.

By making this small change, I hope to learn a practice for the larger areas in my life, like with the people in my life. This feels like a very important shift in thinking.

This yoga instructor is pretty awesome. I'm getting my money's worth, thinking more deeply about life and the lessons therein. Not to mention stretching my shoulders to get them to be where they should be.


kate said...

this was awesome . . . so freakin well put . . . but oh my gosh - how do you make yourself do it in the moment??? how do you get yourself to wash those dishes at That Particular time? I am hemorrhaging intention, but action is so hard to find these days . . . :)

M J said...

Enlightenment thru yoga.

I'm sure it's not the first time, and won't be the last.

Sounds to me like you are getting your money's worth.. and then some.

Occidental Girl said...

To answer your question, I wash dishes or whatever at the time allotted knowing that I don't have to do it later. It's motivating that way.

If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. There are days like that.