GUEST BLOG BY LAUREN ZINN BUCK – YOGA COACH FOR RESET RETREAT
On the last night of Reset Retreat, we hold a closing ceremony where each guest gets to share her biggest take-away — a little nugget of insight or experience that changed her on some level.
One guest shared something on the last retreat that’s still making me smile.
It’s a knowing smile. Because I’ve been there — I know exactly what she’s talking about.
To paraphrase, she said she was surprised by how powerful the intention-setting we did each morning was. (In yoga, there’s a specific methodology to making a really effective intention. I’ll break it down for you in a minute.)
“Normally I don’t buy into that kind of stuff — it all seems kinda hokey to me,” she’d said with a small laugh. “But it really seemed to work, and I was surprised.”
Like I said, I get that. I’m skeptical about anything that feels too new agey or hoodily doodily too — and this is actually one of the reasons I love yoga so much. Because yoga bases everything on your experience, not your buy-in.
Just try it, yoga says. And if you feel a benefit, keep doing it.
It’s true for practicing the poses, it’s true for practicing the breathwork and meditations, and it’s true for setting intentions too.
Here’s a quick primer.
How to set an intention the yogic way
There’s a difference between making a wish and setting an intention. Making a wish means you don’t have a role in whether or not it comes true — and it implies that either way, it will happen in the future.
With intention-setting, however, you do have a role. And it starts with getting yourself into the present moment.
1. State your intention in the present tense.
Phrase it to yourself as if it’s already happened. If your goal is to lose weight, you wouldn’t say, “I want to lose weight.” That statement puts you and the manifestation of your intention in the future.
“I take care of myself and have a healthy body.”
See the difference? This statement is happening now.
Or let’s say you want to drastically cut down on stress. Instead of saying, “I need to relax more,” try:
“I make time for relaxation in my daily or weekly routine.”
Every time you invoke your intention, phrase it to yourself in the present tense, as if it’s already happening.
2. Feel gratitude for all that’s happened up to this point.
The best soil you can plant your intention in is gratitude.
But not gratitude as we normally think of it — feeling thankful for all the good things, the “blessings” in our lives.
Instead, try feeling gratitude — or cultivate the feeling, if it’s not there at first — for ALL events, things and people in your life. Don’t parse out the good from the bad. Include it all.
Then feel how all of those events, things and people have led you to this moment — right now, right here. This is where you are, and it’s perfect. It’s real. It’s happening. The more you have gratitude for all things that led you here, the more present you will feel here.
Your intention has nothing to do with what led you here, or wanting to change the past. You can’t do that, so don’t waste your effort.
It has everything to do with you in this moment. Feeling gratitude in this way — all-inclusive — puts the past behind you and allows you exit the cycle of negativity.
3. Set daily morning intentions.
The days my husband and I remember to do this with each other are the best ones. We state out loud what our intention is for the day.
If his job has been challenging lately, his intention might be: “I am having fun today.”
A favorite of mine, being the primary caretaker of my son, is: “I find many ways — large and small — to fill my own cup today.”
Of course, it’s no secret that breaking big goals down into smaller goals is a great way to tackle something big. Same idea here. Set daily morning intentions. They can address challenges as they arise for you, or chip away at your larger intentions for the year.
4. Each evening, review what you’re grateful for.
I do this every night before I go to bed. It’s great to write down what I’m grateful for (which I do in this nice little journal I use just for that purpose), but sometimes I barely have enough energy to review it mentally as I’m drifting off to sleep.
Naming what you’re grateful for does two HUGE things:
- It keeps you focused and positive, instead of woe-is-me about what might not be so great in your life.
- It shows you how deep the well actually is. You’d be surprised at how you keep coming up with new stuff. At first, it seems like you’ll be repeating yourself every night. But this practice really has a way of highlighting amazingness you didn’t even know was there.
Give it a try, and let me know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love hearing from people and respond to every email.
Or for a daily dose of this kind of intention-setting — coupled with a morning yoga practice to firmly set it — join us on the next Reset Retreat in Belize from November 1 to 6. Book using code ‘YOGATIME’ for a private yoga session with Lauren and a bonus spa treatment!
Lauren Zinn Buck teaches yoga + meditation in Austin, Texas. Also a professional improviser and improv teacher, she is the creator of YogaPlay, a popular workshop and yoga teacher training that combines basic improv games with powerful yoga techniques to elevate presence + creativity. She creates free yoga videos and audio practices to help you start or deepen your practice — sign up at yogathroughlauren.com.