Embodying Intention

I rested into a quiet weekend which did my spirit good.  It is challenging to slow down after a long period of fullness and so I am being present with curiosity to all those internal judgments about the value of my downtime — where do those voices come from?  Living a contemplative life is at the heart of my call in the world and so I laugh when I am confronted again with those same voices many of us struggle with in an ongoing way.  My father was a workaholic, allowing multiple compulsions to numb him from his pain.  I live in a productivity-centered culture where our value and self-worth is focused on what we do.  And yet, everything in the core of my being relishes the gifts of slowness, presence, attention, and wonder.

I was back to my two-week yoga intensive this morning after a break for the weekend.  I could feel the way rest opened up new spaces in my poses and breathing.  We were invited as our practice began to float an intention for ourselves for this time gently on the stream of our consciousness.

In considering my intention, I asked myself: What do I want my practice to embody today?  How do I want to be in the world?  How does my true self move through each moment?

Each breath, each transition, each pose, each rest became an invitation into awareness and wholeness. I want to move through the world with grace and strength, with compassion (for myself and others), and with freedom.  When I slow down enough to hear those voices chattering in my mind, I am able to be present to them, give them care but not give them power.  I discover the old wounds and judgments which still make space for themselves in my imagination.  When I am unconscious of them they hold far more sway over my daily decisions and way of being.

Yoga, like meditation and like art-making, is a container for us to observe our internal process.  It is a time when I can nourish myself by giving myself full attention and not simply move through life allowing those voices to govern my actions.  I become more free to be who I am deeply called to be.  I begin to embody these desires in my muscles and tendons, they knit themselves into the structure of my being so that a new story can emerge woven from the moments of my own presence and wonder at the beauty of things.

As I walk home from class it is a glorious morning, the sky a pale cloudless blue, the air charged with a breeze coming off the Sound.  With each step I am present to how my body moves through the world and what I long for it to express.  A crow flies high above me and its shadow crosses my shadow, we meet for a moment in that wild, dark space where the new things have not yet come to light. I feel the promise within me, walking forward into the world.

© Christine Valters Paintner at Abbey of the Arts:
Transformative Living through Contemplative & Expressive Arts

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