When it comes down to it, making change in life is driven by our intentions. Read over the following progression from "A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook" a couple of times:
- Intention shapes our thoughts and words.
- Thoughts and words mold our actions.
- Thoughts, words, and actions shape our behaviors.
- Behaviors sculpt our bodily expressions.
- Bodily expressions fashion our character.
- Our character hardens into what we look like.
There's simply so much truth to this. There's a reason that the Dalai Lama looks happy. However, most of the time we live without intentionality, and that's when we look back many years later and say, "Where did it all go?" It's time to live as if it mattered.
We can think of mindfulness, the act of paying attention on purpose and without judgment, as a kind of mental training to be more intentional with our lives. Think about how the act of priming works: If the morning starts out with worries about all the work to do that day and the mind keeps practicing worrying, then when you get to work, everything you see will be regarded through an anxious lens. If you get some bad news and feel bummed out and practice rehearsing the difficulties of your situation, those are the glasses of perception that you wear. I'm not judging this process of perception as good or bad; I'm just pointing out the reality of how this works.
If we intentionally set time aside to bring more mindfulness into our lives, we'll start priming our minds to see from a greater place of balance, flexibility and compassion. Of course, this is if you're practicing mindfulness without any hidden agenda of going along with a trend to look good in others' eyes.
Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." That starts with intention. Consider, in this moment, how you want to be in this world. How might you remind yourself to be more intentional about that? You might practice this: "Breathing in, I open to my intention; breathing out, I let it be."
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
A version of this piece was originally published on Elisha's blog on Psychcentral.com, "Mindfulness and Psychotherapy." To read more of Elisha, visit his blog, or subscribe. You may also find him at www.drsgoldstein.com.
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