At the beginning of the yoga class, the teacher led us through a short meditation, with a focus on the breath: “Take a long, slow inhale through the nose, and a long, slow exhale through the nose.” We did several rounds of breathing before pausing to feel the energy in our bodies. We were then invited to “set an intention” for the class.
When I was new to yoga, this request seemed odd; I was there for all the benefits of yoga in mind, body and spirit, so wasn’t the intention implied?
But as I grew in my practice, the options for setting intentions expanded. I could set an intention for
- being gentle
- being compassionate
- focusing on alignment
- focusing on my feet, hips or shoulders
- being loving
- moving as prayer …
Throughout the class, the teacher would ask us to remember our intentions, and bring it into the pose, into the moment. As I engaged in remembering my intention for class, whether focused on the more physical or emotional, the entire experience of the posture would shift. The experience of the moment would change.
To remember an intention is to reengage with purpose; and connecting with purpose changes one’s experience.
Micro-intentions are those we set or reinforce before engaging in a task, and bring alive in the moment the intentions we might set at the beginning of the day. They enable us to align with purpose, pivoting perception from action to experience.
Another example of micro-intentions in action is mindful eating. When we sit down to eat, if we set the intention of being mindful, we become more aware of the experience of eating; the tastes, the smells, the environment and our satiation — not just going through the motions. For me, this changes the emphasis from just eating something to nurturing myself, which in turn helps me make better decisions.
Micro-intentions also work great at the office: as I sit down to do a task, setting an intention fundamentally changes the experience. For example, I can set the intention to be
- creative and open
- productive …
But now I am asking myself, What if I set the intention to be playful? That could revolutionize my work life! Spending the day with the intention of being playful would be fundamentally different than a day spent with the intention of being productive (though I don’t think they are mutually exclusive). I love this idea!
What intentions can you set that will fundamentally change your experience? I’d love to know if you try this and what happens. Give it a go. 🙂