As we move into the second half of summer, I have caught myself questioning where the time has gone. How is it July already? There is a sense of urgency to do more and enjoy the sun and warmth while we have it, but sometimes that causes us to rush and never fully enjoy the present moment.
Then I began to think about the word intention. This is a word that we hear often. Yet what does it really mean? The dictionary defines it as: “a thing intended; an aim or plan.” I think we can all identify with this term, especially with planning. This is sometimes something we do on autopilot, without truly thinking about it at all. However, there is a way to be more mindful and purposeful with intentions. In setting intentions, it is important to stay mindful of both the resolve and the follow through. We often make our plans with the intention of following through, but there are sometimes distractions that get in the way. In order to remain focused, it can be helpful to start small and practice consistently.
- I will bring my focus to my breath when I feel overwhelmed today
- I will really look at myself in the mirror when I am getting ready
- I will drink a glass of water when I wake up in the morning
- I will write down my thoughts and fears when they are distracting me
Try replacing the word WILL with the word INTEND in the sentences above
- I intend bring my focus to my breath when I feel overwhelmed today
- I intend really look at myself in the mirror when I am getting ready
- I intend drink a glass of water when I wake up in the morning
- I intend write down my thoughts and fears when they are distracting me
Does this change the way you think or feel?
It can be helpful to set aside a few minutes each day to be more intentional with both thoughts and breath. There is a fun way you can practice meditation at home that requires minimal time or resources.
5 minutes and a candle.
- Find a quiet and cozy spot at home to sit, where you will not be distracted.
- Set the candle either on the floor or on a table in front of you, in a way that you are able to observe the flame.
- Feel free to set a timer at this point for somewhere between 3 and 5 minutes.
- After lighting the candle, the goal is to watch the flame, as it dances and sways.
- Begin to slow down your breathing, taking longer inhales and exhales.
There may be times you find your mind wandering, and when it does, have some compassion for yourself and return back to the meditation, without judging yourself or feeling discouraged.
- Once the timer goes off, you can slowly become more focused with your vision and take notice of the things around you.
How are you feeling?
How are you breathing?
This might be a time to write some things down in a journal, or it might be the time to move back into your daily life, just a little slower.
Alright, now I want to share with you my three favorite ways to be more mindful and intentional in everyday life. These can be fun to practice individually or as a family:
Household Chores (Washing dishes, folding laundry, etc.)
Do you find yourself starting this task, only to get distracted or pulled away by something on your phone?
One way to remain mindful is to focus on the task at hand and involve your 5 senses.
- What does the soap smell like?
- Is the water warm?
- Which items of clothing have a soft texture?
- Where can I be more gentle with these dishes?
- How can I slow down more while completing this task?
Meals: When eating or drinking something
Slow down and notice the food that you are eating while also thinking of the person or place that prepared the food. You can also take time to discover if your food is sweet or salty and consider which flavors you like more. This is something to practice at dinner with family, as well as on your own. It is easy to rush through a meal while attempting to go on to the next task. However, we are often in a state of stress when we are eating too quickly, and it can be good for our digestive system if we slow down.
Conversations: Do you find yourself in the middle of a conversation realizing you haven’t heard a word
It is difficult to slow down the mind enough to truly focus sometimes. Or, do you often find yourself already formulating your response while the other person is talking. One of my favorite prompts for this situation is WAIT (Why Am I Talking?). This can be helpful in identifying ways to be more present in just listening to another, with no agenda. It can be helpful to truly feel all of the feelings that arise from the conversation, and asking more clarifying questions as opposed to moving on to another topic of conversation or trying to solve the problem.
Okay, those are three suggestions for ways to integrate more mindfulness and intention into our daily lives. I am curious about other suggestions or other ways people are practicing these skills. Feel free to share those! Also, don’t forget that this is a practice, and it does not have to be perfect. We are only humans, attempting to be as aware and authentic as we can be in any situation.
- Mantra Wellness Magazine
- What’s Your Story Journal
- Breathe Mental Health Magazine
- Book: When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron
Leah Norris, LPC ~ The Cole Center