Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Living with intention, on and off the mat
Like I said in the last post my Spring has flown by and the summer-like weather outside has made me feel like I should update this blog a bit.
I was doing yoga today and it got me thinking. In both online videos and live classes most of the time I am asked to set an intention for the length of the practice. It can be one word or it can be a thought-anything that I want to dedicate my practice to. It gives me the opportunity to focus on what is happening on the mat and nothing else. It also allows me to have a tighter grip on what I want to do, how I want to feel and who I want to be when I leave the mat.
We were asked at the beginning of our service year what we wanted to accomplish. Why we were here, what we wanted to get out of it-our intention. At the start, I was focused on everyone else. I wanted to serve the poor and build community-like a good Augustinian. I thought it would be the perfect way to put my needs and life on hold and focus on others.
At mid-year, I came back to 'my mat' and realized my intention had changed. While living as a good Augustinian made me feel accomplished, I wasn't recognizing my own needs. Thinking I could put my life on hold for a year while I served others was a crazy thought. Life has been moving at lightning speed and there are days I wish I were anywhere but serving in Philadelphia but I try to still live with intention. I'm leaning into the vulnerability of being on my own.
I came back to my mat for grad school applications. That became my main focus for months. It was really hard not to base my worth on the potential outcomes of my applications. My intention for that time period was to believe in myself. To believe that whatever the outcome, I was moving in the right direction. I was good enough. Boy, was it a surprise to read "Congratulations, Abigail..." in an email from all 5 schools. Choosing Washington University in Saint Louis was a very hard decision. One that I spent a lot of time praying about and discussing with friends, family and roommates. Leaving the mat, I am able to rest comfortably knowing it is where I really want to be.
One of the hardest days of this year was May 1st. It was the day I lost my sweet Grandma Janet. It was also the hardest time I've had trying to set and keep an intention for yoga. As I did the different poses with tears in my eyes I kept repeating, "May she rest peacefully in the arms of the Lord. May she be at peace." And you know what? It worked for me. It has been so comforting to know she is free and at peace. So while it was the hardest day yet for me to return to my mat, and stay focused on my intention, I am a firm believer in the power of yoga. I am confident that the focus it allows for is beneficial to the mind and heart.
I believe with all that I am that my Grandmother lived with intention. Everything she did, she believed had meaning behind it. Everything mattered to her. She listened to the sounds of nature because wanted the birds to know they were heard. She painted portraits of her children and grandchildren so they knew they were seen. She held my grandfather's hand so he knew he was loved. She left her mat, this world, living out her intention. In the words of one of my friends, I believe now she is 'painting a mural on the walls of heaven'. She accomplished what she was here to do and I can only hope to do the same.
I came back to the mat today with the intention of "letting it be". One that I often return to. My anxious mind has had a hard time lately with the idea that in one month I am essentially starting over. I am moving back home, starting graduate school, diving into a new job. I am returning to the ever changing world I thought I could put on hold a year ago. While my mind constantly wants to move forward, I cherish those 45 minute to an hour times that I get to sit on the mat, take deep breaths in and out and focus on calming my mind and heart. While I am far from being an expert in yoga, I have fully embraced the mindset.