Wishes rarely come true.
Wishes aren’t the same as intentions. Think about it: can you even remember half the wishes you made as you blew out the candles on your numerous birthday cakes? Did you think about them much after the moment of wishing?
A wish has very little energy behind it. It’s a thought on the wind, a vague hope.
But an intention? Now that’s another story. Or at least it should be.
Let’s start with the basics:
An intention is not the same thing as a wish.
If a wish is a vague hope, an intention is an expertly shot arrow.
Sure, every once in a while a complete neophyte hits the target (and a random wish might, too), but if you want to have any degree of success at this whole intending thing, you need to treat it like art… or like archery: you must hone your craft and become one hell of a marksman.
The best way to do this?
It’s pretty tough to hear the small, still voice of your inner divinity while juggling a job, two kids, and a mortgage.
That’s why my first spiritual teacher— who insisted that I was a modern-day priestess— admonished me never to get married or have kids or dogs or even fish!
Okay, I’m exaggerating on the fish; I’m sure she thought some koi in the pond would be good for meditation. My point is she felt pretty strongly that I should avoid decisions which tempted the noise of everyday life to pull me off my center.
And let’s face it: even for the most grounded of us, the ups and downs of daily living exert their own gravitational force.
As modern-day wisdom-warriors, our primary fight is with our own wandering attention, keeping it focused so that our energy goes where we want it to and not to the gazillion other places that are happy to have an infusion of our light.
“Listen to your inner voice.”
Easily instituted advice if you’re on a silent retreat or doing a weekend of journeywork, but harder in the midst of daily life when you’re not sure you can hear your own thoughts—let alone the voice of your heart.
I have a secret for you:
Your biggest hurdle to hearing your inner truth is getting out of reaction mode.
When you’re in fight-or-flight response and can’t hear the voice of your heart, you’re actually not supposed to; our bodies are hardwired to get us out of danger.
(If neolithic woman hung around wondering if it was her dharma to get eaten by the saber-toothed tiger, our species would have died off long ago. Which I’m sure some would argue would’ve been a good thing.)
Your hair-trigger fight-or-flight reflex works great for tigers of the saber-toothed variety but not so well for daily modern life…
…. which admittedly sometimes leaves you feeling like you’re being chased by a whole streak of tigers (yes, that’s really what a group of tigers is called—a streak. Thus giving us a moment when humans—and human language—are sooooo cool).
The most important thing to know about being in constant, low-grade reaction: you don’t realize you’re in it.
So you think you’re being ridiculously rational, but you’re behaving more like a drunk driver who’s sure she’s road-safe.
In order to break the cycle, you’ve got to build some calming into your day, whether you think you need it or not.
My daily ritual?
(It only works if you stay off social media while you’re sipping.)
Turn the process into ritual:
- As you boil the water, notice the interaction of fire and water.
- Listen to your favorite song while your tea steeps (tea = water and earth).
- Breathe in the steam (water and air) before your first sip.
- Taste your tea. Roll it on your tongue before swallowing.
- Remember this is your time. I don’t answer the phone or finish the laundry. I sit and sip and breathe.
I’m a black tea drinker myself—a holdover from my time in Ireland—but milky oats, holy basil, a little chamomile or lemon balm will all help you calm the heck down. I sometimes add cinnamon or roses to my assam, both of which work wonders for my stress levels.
(The cinnamon is more personal than medicinal. My Aunt Ceil would make cinnamon tea and it’s atavistically soothing for me.)
Tea not your thing? No worries: it doesn’t much matter what you do (as long as it calms you). It matters that it’s daily. The dailyness is what lets you break out of fight or flight mode (’cause remember you might not realize you’re in it).
The other day whilst sipping tea, I listened to FDR’s “there is nothing to fear but fear itself” speech.
Roosevelt knew the power of fear. He knew a bunch of humans in reaction mode was truly something scary.
You are beautiful and strong and full of purpose. Find your daily check-in, whatever it is that lets you come back to center and share the power of your heart.
Tell me in the comments below how you will be finding some quiet in these overly loud times.
Some people are grateful all the time.
I’m not one of them.
I tend to be a striver, an achiever, a “what’s next?” kinda gal.
For me, gratitude has to be a ritual, otherwise it only happens on the rare occasion when something completely out of the ordinary whacks me over the head with the wonderfulness of this world.
So, as a Thanksgiving treat, I thought I’d share my super-easy gratitude practices (the ones I actually do.) (more…)
This is the time of year when I often see clients spiral down the rabbit hole, drop their daily habits, and land in a state of either despair or bizarre holiday mania.
(You know those wild-eyed women running through HomeGoods, gathering up every last beeswax candle? Yeah. You so don’t want to be that person.)
So let’s start OM-ing now as a preventative measure.
As the days get darker, we naturally turn inward and become more introspective.
Add to that the mild depression of less sunlight, throw in a pinch of holiday stress and, suddenly, this can become a pretty unsettled time of the year.
Instead of dreading the darker days to come, think of this window before Thanksgiving as a time to realign and get into solid daily habits that support you, body and soul.
Get these habits for the darkest days going now so that guests, travels, and cooking for twenty don’t throw you off!
#1 Carve Out Time for Yourself
It doesn’t take much. A 20-minute tech-free zone, where you don’t have to worry about anyone but yourself, is heaven. So on the way home from work or from the supermarket, stop at a park, turn off your phone, or go for a short walk.
(And let me know if you don’t feel better for it!)
#2 Remember to Breathe
First notice how often you hold your breath.
Yup, me too. It’s kind of shocking, all the breath-holding we do. You’d think we would have asphyxiated by now.
Okay, now for the remedy:
Actually make time to breathe.
Five minutes when you are lying in bed trying to convince yourself to wake up.
Another five minutes before you eat lunch.
(5 minutes is not that long, people! You can do this—it’s breathing, for heaven’s sake! It’s the first thing you did on the way in and the last thing you’ll do on the way out.)
#3 See the Sunrise
When you’re done lying in bed breathing, throw your coat over your jammies and go watch the sun rise.
A 7AM sunrise is one of the gifts of these longer nights—in the summer you can sleep ‘til seven or watch the sun come up. In the winter, you get to do both!
Andrew and I have gotten into the habit of standing in the street to watch the sun rise over the mountains (we have tall pines on the east side of our house, so there’s no view that way).
As the sun comes up, for just a few moments I feel myself as a part of the larger doings of this great big world and my own concerns get a little smaller.
#4 Check out Mama Moon
The moon reminds us of cycles.
The earth is on a cycle around the sun, too, but it’s a long haul around the galaxy. By the time we come back around, we lose the sense of cyclicality.
A moon cycle, however, is 28 days.
Every 28 days you get to start a new cycle: you get a do-over.
How cool is that?
#5 Don’t Forget the D
Scientists now tell us that D3 is a hormone, not a vitamin, and one in which we are almost all deficient. Because you get your D from the sun, the winter months mean diving D levels.
This is one to supplement; there are no herbs that are high in D.
I like a liquid D3 in an olive oil base so I can just mix it with my food.
#6 Sip Some Herbal Happiness
Sipping herbal teas in winter reminds me of summer, and gardens, and bumblebees.
Plus some herbs have chemical constituents that actually help the happy.
Lemon Balm, St. John’s Wort, Milky Oats, Hibiscus, and/or Linden.
I got a gorgeous white tea call Ya Bao and I am already planning my winter mix: Ya Bao, Linden, and Milky Oats. With a smidge of honey, I’ll be tasting sunlight all winter long!
And we all want that, right?
Now it’s your turn: share your habits for staying aligned through these longest nights!