Do you have goals in life? Or do you pretty much wing it each day, waiting to see what will happen? If you’re a yogi, you probably hear a lot about the power and beauty of living in the moment, but does that mean you don’t need to have plans for the future? The truth is, we’re always planning for the future, even if that future is only five minutes from now. We move forward in life by setting intentions.
The great yogic trick, at least in my view, is to experience the moment while moving toward a future goal. And keep in mind that the journey, not the destination, is the important thing. That means not focusing on the outcome of a goal we’re trying to reach, but staying focused on the journey itself.
For example, a few years ago, my goal was to learn to play golf. I took some lessons and practiced a bit, always with awareness of each step in the process. (Golf is a great tool for staying in the moment.) I even envisioned myself playing a full 18 holes with my husband, enjoying beautiful weather and sparkling conversion together. But it turns out that golf is not my game.
My new goal is to ride my bike more.
My bike has been sitting in the garage with flat tires for a few years. My fitness routine—walks, time on the treadmill, and lots of yoga—has been going along fine without it. But a recent conversation with a woman who is a bicycle racer reminded me that I once enjoyed riding that bike.
In order to get back on my bike with any kind of frequency—that is, in order to make riding it part of my routine—I’ll need to start with small steps. Here’s were setting intentions comes into play. Step one (my first intention), for example, will be to fill the tires! I can do that. Then, maybe I’ll give it a test ride around the block, just to be sure I remember how it works. Soon, I may be riding for twenty minutes or more. Then perhaps I can find trails through local parks and before I know it, I’ll be doing cross country bike tours.
Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. I don’t need to focus on bike tours yet. I just need to get started with presence.
Doron Hanoch, author of The Yoga Lifestyle: Using the Flexitarian Method to Ease Stress, Find Balance, and Create a Healthy Life, tells us that the road to a new goal starts with a simple intention. Rather than feeling overwhelmed and trying to set up a plan for everything we need to do to making lasting changes in our lives, all we need to do in the beginning is show up, even if it’s just for five minutes. He also suggests creating simple rituals whenever possible, such as lighting a candle before meditation, saying a simple prayer before a meal or bowing in gratitude to the shower before you use it.
Doron reminds us to do something every day, no matter how simple. When we live in this way with intention, our practice will take shape. If your goal is to develop a yoga practice, just stepping onto your yoga mat and bringing your hands into prayer pose for two minutes is a step in the right direction.
While we do need to stay in the moment, we also need to act in order to live fully. Our intentions lie at the point where the “here and now” meets moving forward.