How do we best engage in What Matters? It all starts with Intention, that clarity of purpose to notice those things that matter and then act in a way that is consistent with what is important. Intention is course-setting, the compass that helps us navigate our ways through the challenges and complexities of our days, weeks, years, lives. Intention connects us with the core motivators of life, to offer a great contribution in service to the universe, to leave the world better than we entered, to be loving and caring friends, partners, parents, and citizens.
Taking the time to set intentions sounds simple enough, yet we tend to jump into the work day with little such thought. Instead, we usually react and respond to those immediate urgencies that call out to us from our Inbox, To-Do List, appointment calendars… we get caught in the weeds of trivial detail, and next thing we know it is well through the day. So, instead of just jumping into the day, take a few moments to set your Intention for the day. This ritual needn’t be complicated or time-consuming. It is a simple process of sitting still, breathing deeply, and noticing those things that matter to you on this day…how you wish to Be, rather than what you wish to do. This mindful process is the first step.
Exercise 1: Be seated comfortably, whether in your home or at your office. Close your eyes and breathe deeply several times. In your own words (silently or aloud), welcome the day. With each breath, notice an Intention that wants to emerge, such as to be patient, supportive, tolerant of others’ ideas, a good listener today. After a minute, restate those 2-3-4 Intentions that you will seek to fulfill on this day, reminded with each deep breath you notice throughout the day.
As I reflect on what I’ve just asked you to do, I realize how foreign it may be to do it. Many of us simply put one step in front of the other, with little time to reflect upon where we are going or why we are going there… it is simply “the ways things are” and the way they need to be… To set an Intention for the day is to pause that process, not to abandon it. It is critically necessary in order to be sure that we are actually heading in the right direction. As a practical matter, it keeps us from wasting our time and being productive. As a spiritual matter, it grounds us and fills our souls with the energy required to breathe, keep breathing, and being fully alive. So give it a try, notice how it feels, and then try it repeatedly each day for a week. I expect you will notice some things that I can’t begin to convey on these pages.