We hear a lot about mindfulness and intention within the walls of Parallel Yoga, but what do these words really mean? What do they mean to you? Living mindfully and with intent is a way to steer your daily life in the direction of your goals.
It’s also a way to be certain you’re taking full advantage of each and every day, because most of us glide through our weeks looking forward to the weekend—that is to say we “get through” things in order to appreciate what’s on the other side.
But what if the “getting through” is what we should be focusing on? We may never reach the other side, but we certainly have this moment, right here, right now.
When we choose to live with intent, we choose to slow down and consciously make decisions about our actions, and reflect on how our actions will affect other actions that take place after. We recognize that life is fleeting, and by taking the extra time to capture small moments around us, we become more attune to what we may not notice if we didn’t mindfully decide to do so.
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” –Lao Tzu
Here are some ways to help you practice living with intent:
We are all grateful for a variety of our life’s gifts, but we often forget to acknowledge this gratitude. By actively taking time each day to recognize what we have to be grateful for, it reminds us to be gentle, have patience, and appreciate life’s incredible gifts, both big and small.
Say Thank You
As with gratitude, we are all thankful. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to say aloud (to your family or just yourself) what you are thankful for. Even on our worst days, we are all thankful for much. Saying what we’re thankful for aloud on a regular basis helps to remind us that life is not a guarantee and to develop a deeper appreciation for what may seem to be mundane.
Meditate for 5 Minutes Each Day
The 5-minute meditation is practiced by more than just a handful of people—in fact, its popularity as a way to recharge and slow down has been helping people from all over the globe in all aspects of life to gain insight, develop new ideas, and flow through their days more easily and with grace.
Do us a favour: walk outside, stand in Mountain Pose, close your eyes, and just listen. Maintain this for 30 seconds, and you’ll gain a temporary appreciation for what you don’t usually notice. If you do this everyday, that temporary appreciation will become permanent.
Practice Conscious Breathing
You can do this anywhere. In the car, at your desk, in bed before you drift off to sleep, or anywhere else you can think of. Just the action of consciously breathing in deep, slow breaths and then slowly letting them out is extremely relaxing and great for your parasympathetic nervous system.
Try to practice conscious breathing for 8-10 breaths, 2-3 times per day, every day.
Make Stretching Part of Your Daily Routine
Even 5 minutes of stretching each day can help your body to release tension and assist in injury prevention. Do it alone, in a safe and quiet space. Close your eyes.
Because yoga envelops so many of the above suggestions, committing to 2-3 yoga classes a week can result in huge rewards in the long-term.
Be Kind to Nature
Remember, living with intent means making choices regarding all of our actions. The next time you go to swat a fly or kill a spider, try and direct the insect outdoors, instead. Everything created by nature has a purpose, and it’s not up to us to decide what is more valuable than another.
Pet a dog. Feed a bird. Love what nature has provided for us.
Give Yourself Time
Don’t rush—instead, give yourself the time you need to experience what you need to within your day, and not have to worry and stress. Leave for an appointment ten minutes early. Don’t wait until you feel sick to eat.
Treat yourself with the respect you deserve, and don’t rush. Slow down. Breathe consciously. Stretch. Practice yoga and meditate. Notice nature and listen to her sounds. Be thankful and grateful and love your life—it’s a gift, remember. Don’t accidentally waste it.
By choosing to live with intent, we can enrich our lives in many ways.