A few weeks ago I was at yoga class. And as usual the instructor gave us some ideas to think about before class starts. Her suggestion during meditation was to choose an intention for your workout. Give it meaning and purpose. I thought about this and chose an intention for that day’s class. I wanted to achieve better balance with my poses. As the class wore on she reminded us to think of our intention again and again. For myself I mindfully moved from pose to pose with better balance in mind. This took more time, to correct my stances and slower, more controlled movements to prevent myself from falling over. At the very end she commented on how we can and should apply this to our daily lives. During the ending mediation she encouraged us to choose an intention for the day. I left the class feeling like I had accomplished something and that I yet had more to accomplish.
As I have pondered that day over and over again, I reflected back to my younger years as an athlete. Specifically as a runner. Looking back I wasn’t very fast nor did I want to be. My intention was not in my workout, I simply wanted something to do, an exercise and social outlet. Everyday I would go out and run, sort of, not really thinking about the next meet or my time. I simply wanted to be average. I never had the drive or intention. My body certainly became strong and capable, but not all that I could have been as a runner. I did posses skill as a runner, but I was more interested in how I looked in my uniform than my technique. Needless to say I never got far as a runner. (Ha I’m so punny) As I’ve grown up I’ve come to desire more from my physical pursuits than just a social venue or way to stay in shape. I’ve subconsciously desired and had intentions for my journey through martial arts. The past few weeks I’ve felt more fulfilled, because I’m not just going through the motions. My intent is clearly defined for most of the time I spend exercising and therefore more valuable to me. And being a mother to three kids I can’t afford to waste my time. I’m trying to make every workout worth my time! I can celebrate the small successes that will eventually lead to a big success.
Let’s look at this a different way. What is the point of showering? Honestly, why would I shower everyday? To get clean, obviously. Sometimes I do it to relax or let off some steam. But if I had no intentions for a shower, wouldn’t it be the same as if I never showered. If I didn’t care about getting clean, would a shower do me much good? My hair would still be greasy and I wouldn’t smell as good as if I was intending to become clean.
Another aspect of intention is goal-setting. This is critical to any kind of training, or living for that matter. Mindless repetitions will lead you no-where! This idea of goal-setting as been reinforced to me time and again, not only by my Sensei, but my religious leaders. My purpose in life is defined by me and me alone. None of us are born with a purpose, we have to define it ourselves!
Don’t wait around for someone else to define your martial arts experience or marathon for you! Take control, define an intention and give yourself a purpose.
And do not be afraid to limit this practice to just one aspect of your life. How much more fulfilling would be your job, your family-life, your relaxation, your learning, if you mindfully set an intention. I don’t think every aspect of your life needs an intention everyday, but feel free to rotate through your concerns. One day focus on treating your spouse well, above and beyond, the next set an intention to work on your cat-stance or horse-stance. (This is fun to do in a waiting line)
The beauty of setting an intention is it does not take lots of time or have to be detailed. It can be simple, like calling your mom just to let her know you love her, or going for a walk to enjoy the breeze or getting your down-dog to flip. But you can also take your intentions as far as you like. The possibilities for us as progressive individuals are endless!
Turn the mundane repetitions into something glorious, and I think you’ll be surprised.