Thursday, January 8, 2009

Setting intentions in lieu of goals

Over the last year, I've gotten really into Iyengar yoga. For an over-acheiver like me, it's been great for cultivating patience and peace of mind. As this article about setting intentions instead of goals reminded me today, there is a lot to learn from the yogi way of life. Here's the gist:
What would it be like if you didn't measure the success of your life just by what you get and don't get, but gave equal or greater priority to how aligned you are with your deepest values? Goals are rooted in maya (illusion)—the illusionary world where what you want seems fixed and unchanging but in truth is forever changing. It is in this world that mara, the inner voice of temptation and discouragement, flourishes. Goals never fulfill you in an ongoing way; they either beget another goal or else collapse. They provide excitement—the ups and downs of life—but intention is what provides you with self-respect and peace of mind.
There's a lot more in the article about living more in the present than in an intransigent future. Good stuff. My friend, Allegra, has me testing out Bikram (hot) yoga this week. I've been twice so far and it certainly tests you in a whole new way. If your goal is just to get through the session without puking or running out for fresh air (the room is well over 100 degrees), you miss out on a big part of the experience. Luckily, I've done enough yoga that I have been able to pace myself, focus on my alignment and heartrate, and manage the 90 minute Bikram session without much discomfort. It's all about living in the moment and setting a positive intention (or attitude). Now if I could just do that in all areas of my life...

Hat tip: Amanda, fellow yogi

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