I’ve lost interest in New Year’s resolutions. I’ve long since lost the “rah-rah-rah” energy for deciding something, trying to be a new kind of me, with better results in the world out there — thinner, kinder, richer, organized, highly successful, time for everyone and never missing a yoga class.
And yet, it seems New Year’s resolutions haven’t finished with me yet. Driving along, following the river one afternoon, I was musing on the word “intention.” In-tend. Tend-in.
In my work as a therapist I sometimes see people put great energy into an intention, goal or aim, without really understanding the need they are seeking to meet through it or the most effective and fastest way of getting that need met. Some common mistakes or missed opportunities I see people make are:
- Being unclear about the real drive behind their intention and so creating more of the same, using an ineffective strategy to get an important need met. This is the territory of “I’m going to lose weight, fit into a size x dress, so that I will be popular and feel loved.”The real goal here is not the weight loss, it’s to acknowledge the parts that feel unloved and begin to respond to them with love, right here, right now. And in the greater peace that follows inside your body, watch it come into better balance, while you are feeling happier in yourself along the way. Your unacknowledged parts can sabotage all your best efforts.
- Being caught in an ideal future and missing what’s already here, the seeds of it and the way the desire is already real on some level, within. This is the territory of “when I move into a bigger place in the country, away from all these people I will be able to breathe and feel at peace.”Yep, one of mine. Until I remember I can drink a glass of water and be really present as it quenches my parched throat or I can take just one deep, conscious breath and enjoy how that opens my body and breaks down tension. People can get caught up in constant striving without realizing that the “making real” has already happened.
Whatever your New Year’s resolution is, get very clear on what you are seeking through it — the health kick, the savings plan, the overseas holiday, the new job.
Start with the sense of lack of what you desire. Notice any judgments you are holding about that. For example. “I’m such a loser; I haven’t been more successful in life.”
Acknowledge the emotions that go with poor health, lack of vitality, financial stress, feeling stuck in a rut in your life or your job. Accept the reality and the emotions. Notice the response in your body and as you bring your awareness fully inward, notice what evolves, what reveals itself under all of this. For example, you might find a desire to feel more safe or successful or vibrant or activated in your purpose.
Now breathing in, follow that feeling of desire for safety or success or well-being to the place in you that already knows what that feels like, that already knows it. This is the place where it is already real, right here, right now.
Intention is a trick of a word.
Let’s look again at this concept of intention, of having a goal or aim or mental choosing about how something will be different in the future.
There’s a wonderful secret inside this word if you slow down and look. The word is inviting us, not to rush forward and make something different, but to slow down and tend inward, to bring your attention to what is right here, right now.
As I do that now I start with “busy and annoyed” and under that I find an anger at some Christmas circumstances softens quickly into sadness and acceptance. Breathing low into my belly and noticing how the breath has its own pace and rhythm now, holding space for me through this, I feel the invitation for the rest of my body to soften and connect and come online. And here is the spaciousness, the seeing, the little circles of life coming into completion, the knowledge that there is a freshness coming, and that it’s not time yet. A sense of appreciation for the tender perfection of this moment, with its tiny wobbles and deep truth.
So this is my place of truth and power right now.
It’s not a time for rushing or driving or pushing. It’s a right here right now experience of the spaciousness I desire more of in my life. I won’t rush straight home after work and get stuck into my online marketing plans, as the “driver” in me would have me do. I will likely stop a while at the beach, on this summer afternoon and let the wind blow through me and the sun warm me and allow this process its own right timing.
I am tending in. And as I do this I discover that the intention for spaciousness is already here, real, right here, right now within me.
So before that bright and busy mind of your runs away with your plans for the year ahead, the things you will bring your focus and will and all of your strengths to, take a moment to tend-in before you in-tend and you might discover, as I did, that they are one and the same thing!