What is your intention?

In the last couple of months I have been reminded of one big question on almost a daily basis: “What is you intention?”…What do you want? What is your goal? What do you wish for?

January has been the perfect time of year to be asking and reflecting on these kinds of questions. I full-on believe in New Years resolutions, if they are thought-through, with real depth and truthful ‘umph’. The first month of the year is like a blank slate, a fresh canvas upon which colourful dreams and bold ambitions can manifest. I, like so many people, started this year with a resolution- a firm decision to do something….something good, for myself and for others. And at the threshold of the second month of 2016, with spring dawning on the horizon, this desire behind my resolution still burns bright.

My problem in the past has often been that I have wanted to do so many, many different things ALL AT ONCE. Alex affectionately calls this tendency of mine ‘dog brain’ – I’m like an excited puppy running around frantically trying to pick up a stick, a bigger stick, a ball, treat, SQUIRREL!! I want to do it all. But the danger is that I spread myself too thin, and I end up not being able to do any of the things I wanted to do. This year I can feel that this is changing. I have focus this time, and I can actually see my resolution coming true!

This is how:

newpos9I have set a clear intention:

Three books I read recently have asked me to set a new goal for myself. The Yoga Master Max Strom, in A Life Worth Breathing, urges you to reasses your health goals and make wellness your priority, whilst in Ayurvedic Welness Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar asks “What are your three main health goals?”. In Integrative Nutrition by Joshua Rosenthal the first chapter is called ‘Set an Intention’. I get it, Universe: Health should be my priority. In November I decided to enroll with Joshua’s course at The Institute of Integrative Nutrition, the New York Health Coach program that has exploded in popularity, gone purely online and is now the biggest Nutrition school in the world, teaching thousands of people every year in over 100 different countries how to inspire health and vitality in others. Since starting the course last week I have again been reminded that setting a CLEAR intention is the first step to success. So..time to share. My intention is:

To become the happiest, healthiest version of me, and to inspire others do do the same. 

It’s a big goal but not unachievable. And it is CLEAR! I totally know what I want! I 100% recommend being brave and sharing your goals with others by the way – be clear about what you want and true to your dreams, and your friends and family are more likely to respect and support your goal!

I am visualising:

First of all I have written my intention down. This is a simple step, but a powerful one! I have something I call The Dream Book, in which I like to write down all my aspirations and aims. The key is to write them as if they have already happened – and only after you have sat for a few quiet moments visualising what it will be like to achieve your dream – what does it look like and feel like? Are you grateful, relieved, blissful, proud, bouncing off the walls?! Really imagine it. Then scribble it down as IF IT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED: “I am so happy/grateful/at peace now that….”. In The Awakening Course  Joe Vitale says that it’s a little bit like going internet shopping from the Universe – ask for WHATEVER you want, it doesn’t matter how big. Just imagine you can have YOU want! This has already worked for me. Over a year ago three big things I wrote down were that I was thankful (although none of them had happened yet!) to have cleared my massive overdraft, to be studying something that could help other people and to be in a loving and supportive relationship…and a year later they have all come true. I feel truly blessed!
I also recommend writing down your intention, along with a few feelings (be picky, these are important!) and a little visual (however small and scrappy) on a piece of paper and sticking it somewhere you will see it EVERY DAY! It will remind you of your desire, evoke your passion and keep you on track.

I am creating a plan:

Deepak Chopra says in a MindBodyGreen article about how to harness the power of intention (read here) that once you established your goal in a “state of restful awareness” you should relinquish your rigid attachment to a specific outcome, live in the “wisdom of uncertainty” and let the infinite organising power of the Universe decide the details. While I’m totally down with that and am loving the thought that things will fall into place just as they should, I have also been noting down a couple of rough plans when inspiration has struck. That is not to say these plans will always remain the same – I’m leaving room for it to evolve along the way. My intention is to help and inspire people to become happy and healthy (through my own discovery of wellbeing), and there are many different ways for me to do that. Last week an IIN lecture on intentions recommended setting no more than three main goals this year – a magic number apparently, Dr Kshirsagar recommended the same amount of health goals in his book! Choosing three clear goals to achieve in a year allows you to be selective and narrow in on your intention on a more manageable timescale.

I am taking action:

So I know what I want – now it’s time to start DOING, or my intentions will forever stay as dreams! Every time I make a decision I am checking in with my three main goals for this year, which are as follows:
1. To create and maintain a healthy, strong body and a balanced, compassionate mind
2. To become a Institute of Integrative Nutrition Certified holistic Health Coach
3. To save up enough money to do a Yoga Teacher Training course with Triyoga and Personal Trainer course with EIF.

As well as sharing my aspirations I am also working towards my goal by creating balance in my life, mentally and physically, and making sure I am surrounded by a loving and encouraging support network of family, friends and colleagues.

I am prioritising:

As “Queen of FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out) it takes a lot of effort to turn down invites and opportunities that come along. But the effort is worth it! I have really noticed the amazing power of saying “Sorry, I can’t, I have to study” or “no, I can’t afford that right now”. It’s an instant stress reliever and can feel very empowering – you are being clear with yourself and people around you that your goals are important and you’re sticking to them!
It’s all about placing those big marbles into the jar first , and then all the small day-to-day bits fall neatly in place around them!

For me the most important first step is making sure that I am making choices that optimise my wellbeing. When you are in balance you are in alignment with your true self and more open to receive from the Universe – read past the hippy-dippyness of that sentence and try prioritising getting enough rest, doing regular excercise, practising a bit of mindfullness to stay centered (try a yoga class, or download the Headspace app), eating your greens, being on good terms with people around you and staying away from processed food-products – I promise you that you’ll find it easier to notice opportunities and make choices that align with your goals!

I cannot tell you how powerful these steps have been in the last few weeks. By following them I have greatly reduced my anxiety and SAD. I hope they help you too!

So…what are your intentions for 2016?!


Mental Wellbeing

Being Enough

Feeling aimless and lost is something I know I’m not alone in. It’s not a small task to figure out what you were put here to do. For a very long time now I have felt confused and frustrated, searching desperately for something to ‘stick’. Over the years I seem to have developed a habit of getting super excited about one life changing idea or another – something that’s going to improve everything, change the world, even if it’s just my own, make me happy, and important, and of value….and then…I give up.

During the summer a nagging voice at the back of my mind escalated to an ear-splittting scream that despite having a great job, awesome friends, a loving family, the best boyfriend, and living in a lush house with wicked housemates, I’m not successful, important or valuable. For years prior to this, my primary technique for attempting to achieve a feeling of being ‘good enough’ has been to create an overly complicated list of ‘shoulds’, aims and goals for myself. Trying to prioritise and organise this painfully long checklist, a colourful concoction of traditional (buy a house, travel the world) and unconventional (become a yoga teacher, create a comic) benchmarks, has been hectic and exhausting, especially as I’ve been looking sideways and feeling like everybody else has a much simpler and more eloquent answer to “What does success mean to you?”. The thought that I might fail has kept me up at night and made my chest feel like it’s constantly on fire. A big part of me has felt like I don’t really have it in me to ever achieve any of that stuff, even the basic stuff like getting 8 hours of sleep a night or remembering to pick up my bag before leaving a restaurant, and so even though I have the ability to come up with creative ideas and occasionally even make them work I’m still left with the feeling of being stuck, and unable to change…

One big excuse I have been giving myself for not achieving the things I want is “not having enough money”. To be honest I think I’d say it’s near impossible for most people in our society to not have finances popping into mind when ‘success’ is mentioned. We all rely on money to survive, it’s vital ingredient in our capitalist, profit-driven culture. Even Ayurveda talks about financial health as being a component of complete healing. Money is certainly an enabler and financial freedom is not a bad thing. But GREED is. The kind of greed that sometimes comes over me when I masochistically compare myself to all the successful people around me. I start wishing and scheming up ways to earn more, so I can ‘solve my problems’ and do all the things on my list…the worst thing is that this accelerates my anxiety and feelings of worthlessness and even guilt – I mean, for goodness sake, It’s not like I’m sleeping rough or having to escape my country because of war!!

The Dalai Lama, speaking at the O2 arena in London a month ago, hit the nail on the head when he said that the problem that can arise when wanting money is that when you get it you might realise it’s not enough. You need more, and then you need more again. If you need money, the hunger is never satisfied. Well, Buddhists say that about quite a lot of things actually…desire, grasping, needing things, apparently it doesn’t lead to lasting satisfaction.
Listening to him talk with passion, clarity and wisdom (giggling knowingly, the way he does) about developing understanding, respect and love for all people and aspects of life made me realise with sudden, immutable urgency that I hadn’t been very compassionate or kind to myself recently…at all! In fact, I’d been really fucking mean to myself! And not just recently…for a very long time.

And then I realised something else: I’d been relying on external events to be the litmus test for my feeling of personal success. I’d been going about it all wrong!! The thing is, If you don’t feel completely fulfilled and happy just being you as you are right now, if you don’t love yourself in other words, then it won’t matter how much you have or gain or achieve – it won’t be enough for you to FEEL successful . So…my final answer to my therapist’s question about what ‘success’ meant to me was:

“To feel that who I am and what I have right now is ENOUGH…just to be content, happy and at peace in each moment, no matter what is going on around me.”

OK great…so that’s a nice conclusion, right? But there’s one thing…where the duck do I start?

I have decided to give meditation a go. Seems like a small step, but after dragging a very obedient Alex along to a meditation class at Wilderness Festival three months ago, and feeling really great (I did, at least…Al was fast asleep throughout) I vowed to start and then never bothered to follow it up with the usual excuse of ‘I don’t have enough time’. But now I’ve downloaded an app called Headspace, which supposedly makes it all very simple. 10 minutes is all it takes, according to the app, so tomorrow morning a pillow on the floor at the end of my bed is dutifully waiting to be occupied by my meditating bottom.

Talking IS good. I’ve already acknowledged it as one of the first steps to healing. Voclaising your hectic, random, confused inner dialogue to an empathetic and non-judgemental listener can be incredibly powerful and a wonderful catalyst for positive change. Sharing your experience with friends is a great way to create trust and break stigma about mental health. But If you can sit with yourself in complete silence, and just let things be…if you can be aware of your pain, without having to fix it, numb it or run away….well, I’ve heard that can do wonders too. Maybe 10 minutes a day is enough to give myself a break from thinking that never-ending list of goals and will help me recognise that even if I don’t achieve all of those things I’m not failing because I what I am right now is still ENOUGH.