Setting Your Intention For the Day
By Michele Rosenthal
This past weekend I read ATTITUDE RECONSTRUCTION, by Jude Bijou, which is a great book – or as Jude calls it: a blueprint – for building a better life. In it Jude discusses how to take control of and utilize emotions, thoughts, intuition, speech and actions to empower your experience. (We’ll be talking about this live on YOUR LIFE AFTER TRAUMA tomorrow.)
Yesterday I was still thinking about the book and how we can develop and build control when I met with one of the recovery support groups I run. We were talking about rituals that allow you to set your intention for the day. As you seek to balance the positive and negative thoughts, emotions, people and influences in your life and healing journey, it’s a great idea to carve out some space each day where you can get in touch with what your intention is for and with yourself as you interact with both yourself and the world at large.
In my PTSD and trauma recovery memoir I wrote extensively about my meditation practice. It was the first activity I learned that allowed me to take back control, reduce anxiety and tame the monkey mind in my own head. My first therapist taught me how to do transcendental meditation and I clung to the practice like a life raft. Almost immediately I saw the benefits of training my mind to focus in reduced anxiety, a connection to a capability for and a place of calm, and an increased ability to go with the flow, something my very rigid survivor mind had long forgotten how to do!
During our group meeting yesterday a member asked me how I learned to meditate. She doesn’t like meditation, can’t relax, doesn’t want to focus and won’t sit still.
“I feel like a failure every time I do it!” she confessed. “But I was thinking that it would be a good way to set my experience for the day.”
Indeed. The science behind the value of meditation has been well documented. You can use it as a way to set your intention for the day by implementing a simple practice. As I explained to the group, my meditation practice began and still continue to be simple:
- 8 cycles of diaphragmatic breathing (I like the 4-4-4-4 count model: inhale, hold, exhale, hold)
- Focus on a word that represents something I want in my life (my original word was ‘peace’)
- Hold this inner focus until my mind naturally brings me back to connect with the outer world
There’s no need to be perfect in this practice. I built up from 5, to 10, to eventually 60 minutes. The benefit? MUCH more peace came into my life. In addition to the science behind the effects of meditation there’s also the fact that where we spend our energy is what we purchase. The more time spent in activities designed to focus you on what you want in recovery the more you will bring those things to you. (Tomorrow you can spend some time on YOUR LIFE AFTER TRAUMA with me as my guest and I discuss immediate tools and processes you can use to bring more peace, love and joy into your life.)
The trick to finding what works for you is to be fluid. Try different activities that slow you down and allow you to focus and connect inward. Some of my clients like gardening, painting, writing and hiking, others like meditation, exercise and yoga. Try many different things and choose what feels best to you.
Have you already discovered what works? I love to hear about it!