What Are You Watering?

Spring emerges: Trees bud, sun shines, and blades of grass burst many shades of green. ‘Tis the season for early garden planting. This time of year, it’s exciting to start fresh or plant something new. However, this endeavor may also seem daunting or overwhelming. There are all sorts of decisions to make and options to choose from. As in life, a little planning often goes a long way.

The Buddha taught that the entire world arises out of the tip of intention. So, what seeds are you throwing out? What are you growing, watering, tending to, and nourishing? On a daily basis, what are you practicing?

These questions might help shed light into the process of creating a life on purpose, nurturing passions, and blossoming into our fullest potential as human beings. Science continues to prove that our brain changes every day, based on what we do, feel, say, and think. What you feed will grow. What you practice gets stronger. What you think you become.

Interestingly, this can work for you or against you. You cannot change what you do not see. It can be easy to feed habitual limiting beliefs—stories of fear, feelings of anger, judgment, the idea that something is wrong, that you are not good enough. Fortunately, when we look through the lens of mindfulness, we begin to see more clearly what is true and real, which is referred to as insight, or vipassana. The yogic mantra Asatoma Sadgamaya, translates as, “Lead me from the unreal to the real, the darkness to the light, the unconscious to the conscious, from death to immortality.” Once we begin to see into the nature of reality, there is opportunity for choice—to choose differently, to modify, adjust, shift direction.

Intention

“The most important thing is to remember the most important thing.”
—Suzuki Roshi

When we are not clear about our intention or what we really desire, it can lead to confusion, dissatisfaction, and suffering. Honing in on our personal intention or aspiration is similar to planting a seed. The human spirit craves expansion and possibility, and summons us to flourish in new horizons. A focused intention is identifying a direction toward cultivating a more awakened heart and mind. As Mary Oliver so eloquently asks, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” What do you crave? What do you care about most? What supports the budding of your true, whole, authentic self?

These questions can be a compass to remember, clarify, and clear space for what really matters. This is the initial process of laying the fertile soil for pure potentiality to emerge. Intention becomes the lush foundation for roots to grow and, when the season is right, the fruits blossom.

To dig a layer deeper, you may begin to pinpoint what gets you most excited and why. Why do I want what I want? Why is this important to me? The question “Why?” infuses this ever-evolving process with newfound purpose. It becomes a motivating force of alignment, which ignites the mysterious organizing power of the heavens.  Ultimately, scattering seeds of intention supports the realization that you can choose who you want to be and become.

Attention

Attention is similar to fertilizer—it is the way in which we attend to and nourish our intention. We have the capacity to choose where we place our attention, what seeds we sow, the roots we water, and the fruits we harvest, savor, and enjoy. What we put our attention on will expand in our life, so it’s important to become conscious about where we are resting our attention. Are your thoughts, words, beliefs, habits, patterns, actions, aligned with your intention and nourishing your highest virtue or destiny? In Kripalu Yoga, we say, “Prana (life force) follows chitta (mind),” or “Where the mind goes, prana flows.” Where we place our attention, energy and life force go. Neuroscience might express it like this: Neurons that fire together wire together.

How do you direct your attention toward those aspects of yourself and your life that you most want to flourish, expand, and thrive? Researcher and author Joe Dispenza says that your personality is made up of what you think, act, and feel. Your personality creates your personal reality. So, if you want to create a new personal reality, you have to examine your thoughts, notice behaviors and habits you perform every day, and look at the emotions you have memorized. When we gather our attention and unite the mind and the body toward elevated thoughts and feelings, we signal new communities of neurons to fire in new ways. The neuro-patterning and chemistry of our brain, body, and heart begin to shift from old ways of being into alignment with actions directed toward our greater intention.

Meditation and mindfulness are specific ways of paying attention. Regular and repeated practices deactivate negativity and reactivity and begin to reprogram our mind, body, and nervous system. In a sense, there is a weeding and pruning out of the old, and all that we have outgrown, while purposefully training and planting our attention toward fresh new possibilities. Mindfulness is a reminder to pause. Once we’ve paused, we can call on the higher aspects of ourselves to harvest the riches of our lives.

Daily Practices to Nurture Intention and Attention

  • Setting Intention: Start each morning by setting a focused, positive intention of how you want your day to feel.
  • Five-Sense Awareness: Each day, bring your attention to the things you look at and read (news, computer, phone), listen to (radio, music, conversations with other people), touch and come into contact with, smell and taste. Are these sense experiences nourishing you, or are they depleting, limiting, and toxic?
  • Nadi Shodhana (Alternate-Nostril Breath): This pranayama helps to focus the mind and balance the right and left sides of the body and hemispheres of the brain.
  • Moments of Mindfulness: Commit to one mindful practice every day, such as meditating for 10 minutes or going for a mindful walk. The best practice is the one you do regularly and consistently, even if it is for one minute.
  • Buddy System: Check in with a friend or practice buddy to remind each other of your intentions and what you are “watering.” Share with one another what you discover in the process.
  • Self-Discovery Journaling: Explore answers to these questions: What do you care about most? What will support the awakening of your true, whole, authentic self? If you knew that whatever you chose to take on would be successful, what would you do? How do you need to reorganize your life to cultivate that which is truly calling you?

Find out about upcoming programs with Jess Frey at Kripalu.

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