To focus on your intention, you can practice any of the core mindfulness practices or any of the specific practices offered for that intention. These options are meant to give you exposure and flexibility in your daily practice to choose what resonates with you on a certain day or a certain intention.
Deep breathing has incredible benefits that most of us do not appreciate. It helps calm your mind, warm your body, increase your lung capacity, and even burn more calories! When you are focused on your breath, you open up channels of energy to stay present and more relaxed, not only during the practice, but also throughout the rest of your day when you are stuck in traffic, anxious in the dentist chair, or engaged in a difficult conversation.
Many Eastern cultures have long recognized the importance of deep breathing to cultivate a positive relationship between the body and the mind, one that results in a more tranquil state of being and a more resilient physiology. Your nose is directly linked to your brain and nervous system, and the Indian yogis believe that many diseases are linked to disturbed nasal breathing. Yoga, qi gong, and tai chi are such healthy practices in large part because they combine deep breathing and movement to support a steady central nervous response.
The yoga poses are a big part of the daily practice because physical movement is another way we focus on our intention. When you engage your muscles and hug the midline for stability, you fuel your intention with determination and courage. When you extend your arms and legs out, you are reaching for what is most important to you with enthusiasm and trust.
All yoga poses can be modified to decrease or increase the intensity or can be eliminated completely, according to your current level of practice or physical injuries or challenges. Tightness or discomfort in your muscles is normal, but pain, especially in your joints, is a warning sign to back off immediately.
Meditation is something of a mystery to most of us. We don’t quite know how to do it or understand why we need to do it. Meditation has great value, especially in today’s busy, frenetic, and multitasking world.
Meditation typically involves focusing inward. There are many different forms of meditative practice from lying to seated to walking, and the technique itself is less important than the act of inward attention. It is the inward attention that calls forth the meditative state.
John Kabit Zin, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are, says “Meditation is stopping and being present, that is all.” He teaches meditation is feeling the way you feel. It’s not about making the mind empty or still; it’s about letting the mind be as it is and knowing it in this moment. That is possible for us all.
In walking meditation we use the experience of walking as our focus. We become mindful of our experience while walking, and try to keep our awareness involved with the experience of walking. The simple experience of alternating steps with the left and right foot and paying attention to those steps naturally helps create a meditative state. We are usually so caught up in getting there when we are walking that to focus on the action of actually getting there offers a mindfully rich experience.
Journaling is one more important way to focus on and express your intention. It is so valuable because you access different information in your subconscious mind when you commit something to the page, as opposed to thinking about it and processing it in your breathing, movement, and meditation.
If you don’t consider yourself to be a “writer,” it doesn’t matter because you are not really writing; you are journaling, and it’s only for you. There are no rules or formalities followed in journaling. It is writing as a stream of consciousness, with whatever comes up for you at the time.
The body scan is a way to connect with your body by focusing on different body parts without judging or doing anything differently. It is a nourishing time for you to be by yourself and with yourself fully. As you are guided to each body part, you just become aware, moment to moment and accept what is happening in your body and in your mind.
Let go of the tendency to want things to be different as they are right now and judgmental and critical thoughts. Breathing in and breathing out and being aware of any sensations in your whole body will lead to deep relaxation.
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