Most of us have taken atleast one plane ride during our lifetime. During safety instructions announcements we are reminded that in an emergency situation please put your oxygen mask first then help a child put on an oxygen mask. Most of us are very giving in nature and are supporting someone either emotionally or through some other means. The giving nature for human is natural but during this time we forget to take care of ourselves. If we are happy and at peace things around us will happy and at peace. We need to physically and emotionally take care of ourselves to create a balance in our lives. A simple exercise of intention setting can go a long way to take care of us.
One way that I keep my emotions in check is through a daily practice of intention setting or through Sankalpa. One of the first things I do when I wake up in the morning is to set an intention. What is an intention? An intention is a guide or support, a few positive words in present tense of reinforcement that will hep create a balance, that you can always come back to during the day. Like – my intention yesterday was , “I will find joy in little things”. If I have gone through a rough day before, I may make, “I will not fear” as my sankalpa for the day. I try and reinforce the intentions during my meditations, so they become more ingrained in my life. When part of the day becomes challenging, I try and get back to my intention by taking a few long deep breath, remembering what I really wanted during the day. The initial days of practicing uttering a few simple words are always challenging so that’s why using meditation to make intention part of my being is helpful.
Over the years I have realised that the simplest things in life are the most powerful and also the hardest. All our life we have been told that you must work hard, life is not that easy. Not everything has to be heard. Because things are simple so we take them for granted. Once I have overcome the barrier of simplicity, I realize that the result of coming back to my intention results in stability and balance of self. A few months back I was listening to Sister Shivani from the Brham Kumaris organization. She said we do a food fast to take care of our body – but how do we take care of our mind. Her suggestion was simple; fast for the mind like the way you fast for the body. Since then I have added an intention to my list – “Fast of negative thoughts, fasting of stressful thoughts, fasting for what the mind needs”. I have also tried this fast for seven days. Taking forward what my teacher Mr. AG Mohan says, “Lightness of Body, Brightness of Mind” to “Lightness of Body and Mind, Brightness of Life”. This has probably been most revealing intention till date. This is how we are able to change our life in a more positive way or get through our most darkest times.
Modern scientists have found a direct correlation between the practice of setting an intention and neuroplasticity to change our brain. Dr. David Richardson, an eminent psychologist, uses the word embodied mind, where he suggests that there is bi-directional movement between the body and the mind. What our mind thinks our body acts and vice-versa at times. We can train our minds in a way that makes our life better. Most of us can intuitively feel that our body actions are influenced by our mind. Science is only getting around to what we have already known for many centuries. These intentions can rewire parts of our brain in such a way that we are able to respond without panic, fear or judgement not only to an existing situation in a better way but also to a new and difficult situation with a calm mind.
As intentions become part of our value system and new ones can be slowly added. Keeping intentions simple is very important. Our mind has an automatic response to things that are easy so intention should be simple and can be accessed right away. So let’s keep things simple. A positive present tense statement that helps you get back your mind-body balance through breathing.
As we use the month of May to make meditation part of our daily lives to help us be more balanced in our life, let us use this week to set an intention for the day.