I’d like to preface this post with the reassurance that it will tie back to my thesis.
I’ve been thinking a lot about intentions. Those of you who know me personally will know that yoga is an important part of my life. Yoga instructors often speak of setting an intention for your practice. For me, this often means connecting with a word, phrase or thought for the duration of the class. Setting an intention can be a way to find focus, guidance, and peace. When we greet our yoga practice with intention, we are less likely to be distracted by discomfort or uncertainty. Intentions can make you fearless, confident, or, at the very least, brave.
But intentions aren’t just for the yoga mat, they’re for much more than that. And, over the past few weeks, the idea of acting with intention in my daily life is something that has really started to sink in. Recently, I started to take note of all of my daily behaviors. I was amazed to see just how few of them I did with intention.
Checking Facebook, for example, is one behavior that often is so mindless it’s scary! I can’t make assumptions about anyone else, but for me, it seemed that I was logging into my Facebook more and more frequently, with very little purpose. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for social media. I’m a HUGE lover of Instagram. You can follow me at @laurniewilson, if you’d like 🙂 But it’s almost too easy to become addicted: to scroll forever through the seemingly endless flow of updates and articles, without absorbing a single thing. I’m certainly guilty of it. But it seemed like a habit I could break, and setting intentions seemed like the way to start. I decided to ask myself, every time I logged in, why I was logging in, in the first place. If I had a good reason, I would continue. If not, I would close the tab.
Mindfulness is another idea that goes hand-in-hand with intention. Pema Chödrön (who I mentioned in my last post), and many other teachers, write about the importance of mindfulness. The idea behind mindfulness can be summed up roughly as living in the moment. Regardless of what you’re doing, be it slicing a tomato, or taking a test, mindfulness asks us to be present in that moment. It may sound silly, but when we wander from the present, when we lose our mindfulness and become stuck in our thoughts and inhibitions, we miss out on enjoying the precious moment we are in. If we aren’t mindful, then whatever we are doing will not be as good as it could have been.
Intention and mindfulness are powerful tools when you choose to use them. They can open up so much more of life than you ever thought possible. I’ve only just begun to skim the surface of these resources and am excited about what they can bring.
With all of these thoughts simmering in my mind, I realized that my thesis needed some serious changes. I dreaded sitting down to write because I wasn’t enjoying any of the stories I was writing. I felt disconnected and uninspired. I had known for a while that I was just writing to write, regardless of how much I disliked what I was creating. I was looking for themes and squeezing them out of already parched narratives.
Then I took a step back. A huge part of my summer has been travel. Honestly, I’ve spent more time outside of Pittsburgh than I have in it. Yet, none of my travel experiences were finding their way into my work. This was clearly a problem, especially since I have felt the most inspired since I’ve been away, free to wander and roam. Why wasn’t that a part of my thesis? Why weren’t those feelings translating into what I wrote? They needed to.
And so, without any expectations or pressure, I told myself to write about sitting beside Lake Twenty-Two on that warm, Sunday afternoon in the Washington state wilderness. When I sat down to this task, determined to access that which I already possessed within, I didn’t expect myself to have a full-blown story with subplots and a sweeping arc. I didn’t ask anything more of myself than to recapture that serenity and share it in a way that others would be able to feel it, too.
And that’s exactly what I did. Then I read it to my mom. She liked it.
It was in that moment that I realized what my thesis would really be about. As I move forward, I will select feelings, experiences, and brief moments from my journeys. I will take these selections and write about them. Some entries may be longer than others. Until I have a few more, I’m unsure as to how they will take shape. But I will write what feels right, what feels like the most important take-away from that event, that emotion, that fleeting second that is now a memory. I will follow each entry with a photo story to illustrate what I’ve narrated.
In this way, my writing and my pictures, both directly influenced by my travels, will interact with each other, creating what I hope will be an impactful collection of thoughts and images. The themes that I had tried so hard to craft before will create themselves. Since all of these reflections will come from my life, my growth, and my inspiration, they should naturally link with each other.
It’s taken me over a month to get to this point. But I’m starting to understand that the journey is the most important part.
This Week’s Inspiration:
For the Eyes: Have you taken a moment to look up, recently? The sky offers so much to see, if we only take the time to appreciate it. (Especially on the 4th of July.)
For the Ears: Sizzling sauce pans, gurgling streams, all of these repetitive sounds have been really soothing, lately.
For the Soul: My most favorite yoga teacher is leading a month-long meditation challenge via her Instagram account @meghanjcharles. If you’ve been curious about starting your own meditation routine, this might be just the inspiration you need.
Til next time, friends.