This past Spring I was excited to hear that the Dali Lama was coming to the Chicagoland area to lecture on non-violence. With all the bullying going on in the schools, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to pull my two teenage daughters out of school and introduce them to the teachings of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and spiritual leader of Tibet. I asked myself, really, when would an opportunity like this come again in my daughters teenage years?
Strangely enough while attending the lecture, the gentleman introducing him was so excited he exclaimed, “I guess we can all knock this off our Bucket List!” This term, Bucket List, is getting a lot of attention lately. You know, a Bucket List, things you have on a written or mental list that you want to accomplish before you die? In fact, there is even a television show on MTV called the Buried Life. The premise is following around four young guys as they knock things off their Bucket List.
It's a nice idea right? Having a list of things you hope to accomplish in this lifetime. But having a Bucket List, is not enough. It is easy to rattle off things you want to do before you “die” while having beers with a couple of buddies. But are you really going to do them? Will you put your attention towards doing them?
As a yoga teacher for more than 10 years now, I am well aware of the power of intention. Deepak Chopra describes in his book Seven Spiritual Laws of Success as law number five: The Law of Intention and Desire. He explains, “Inherent in every intention and desire is the mechanics for its fulfillment. And when we introduce an intention in our pure potentiality, we put this infinite organizing power to work for us.” Huh? Simply put, if you want something to grow stronger in your life, you have to direct more attention to it. If you want something to diminish in your life, Deepak says, withdraw your attention from it.
When beginning a yoga class, I begin students in meditation. Students are asked to take a scan of their Physical Self. From the tips of their toes to the crown of their heads, they check in to see where, in this moment, they may be feeling physical discomfort. For some students it may be in the lower back for others perhaps the knees or neck. At this time we acknowledge this discomfort but students are asked not to place too much attention on this discomfort as they move into their practice. Do not dwell on it, i.e., diminish it in the practice.
Then we move on to the Emotional Self and students are asked to acknowledge any emotions they may be feeling in that moment; fear, excitement, anxiety, etc. Again we acknowledge, this time the emotion, but we do not dwell i.e., diminish it in the practice.
Finally we come to what I call, our Spiritual Self. This is our Self of non-judgement and all-knowing. From this place we ask ourselves what it is we need from our practice on this day. As this comes up, we set out intention for our practice. We direct our attention towards what we want to grow stronger in our lives. So as the poses become more challenging, as our mind wanders off the mat, we can bring ourselves back into the practice through our intention.
Here is what I find. You must put your Attention on your Intention be it on your yoga mat or in your life.
Like intentions in a yoga practice, a Bucket List in life, needs to be grounded in the truth of who we are and what we want to do.
We have to have a clear path to our intentions so when barriers show up like unforeseen circumstances, lack of resources, illness, baggage from the past, we can still keep ourselves on our path to our true intentions, our Bucket List.
You have to be clear about your intentions. Like a Bucket List, take time to write down a list of things you would like to manifest in your life. Places to go, people to see, ideas to accomplish, barriers to remove.
In class I describe my “truth” as, “Understanding why this (my) soul dropped into this (my) vessel.” As I personally go full throttle with this, I can barely keep up. I am still completely amazed at how many seeds are growing. How many doors are opening. How many barriers are breaking down. I no longer look for outside validation to do what it is that I want to do. I get on my path and I go.
Now, when I get angry or frustrated, I can immediately recognize that someone or something is putting a road block up on my path to achieving my Bucket List. The path is not always easy, but at least I'm on it.
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