The Power of Setting Intentions

With the April Full Moon shining brightly on top of the Steel Bridge, an iconic landmark in Portland, Oregon, my best friend and I headed down the concrete stairs that jutted from the sidewalk in front of my apartment to the rocky alcove that faced the Willamette River. The air had a simultaneous smell of recent rain and fresh magnolia flower. Each of us held a scrap of paper in our hands which had a list of all things we intended to rid ourselves of in the coming month. I lit a candle and we burned our lists into the candle fire, watching as our lists turned into ashes and flew with the wind into the river. That marked the completion of our first homemade, totally improvised Full Moon Ceremony.

I started practicing intentional ceremonies on my own just a couple months prior to this. I first became interested in intentional setting practices after researching and learning more about it over the rainy Portland winter. Linking my intention settings with the moon cycle is something a bit more new to me, but I have found it to be a very powerful practice. After having had a few ceremonies now with my best friend, I am feeling inspired to share how this practice has helped me. I intend to incorporate more of these types of ceremonies into my life and hope to inspire others to do the same.

This prior winter, my life was a bit of a dark carousel, going round and round in a cycle that wasn’t healthy for my mind, body, or soul. I had just moved back to Portland, Oregon after having moved away for about five months and had lost connection with a lot of my old friends. Going against my own morals and being misguided while on the search for trying to feel less alone, I had a couple different relationships in my life that were unhealthy. I was also living downtown in an isolated area entrenched with lots of sadness; it was not uncommon to see people dealing or shooting up drugs at the light rail stop that I waited at for my daily commute. It made me feel sad and helpless to see all of the addiction, it reminded me of how much suffering there was in the world and in my own life. The discomfort of my outer world seemed to be reflecting my inner world.

I was watching a lot of self-help videos on YouTube during the winter and in one video someone spoke of intention setting practices and how much it helped them to shift a few things in their life to more of their liking. Every night I started writing an intentional list in my journal. The list consisted of three things I intended to do the next day (e.g. tomorrow, I intend to run 3 miles along the river without stopping, I intend to stay focused with each patient I am helping at work, and I intend to meditate for 20 minutes in the morning). My nightly lists became a fun, easy opportunity to see how I could reach small feats on a daily basis. If I didn’t end up meeting one of my intentions, I wouldn’t beat myself up too much because it would always feel good that I had met the other two intentions. The “next day” lists soon turned into me listing weekly three things that I intended for the week ahead and monthly three things I intended for the month ahead.

My intention setting lists for the day, week and month ahead soon transformed. I have always been fascinated with the cycle of the moon and started collaborating my intention setting lists with moon phases. I would do a New Moon intention setting and then a Full Moon intention setting. Coordinating intention settings with the moon phases seemed to come really naturally and conveniently given that there is always one new moon and one full moon every month. In my research on intention setting ceremonies, I discovered that the New Moon is a powerful time to write out what you would like to attract since it marks the beginning of a new cycle and the Full Moon is a time to write out what you would like to release yourself from because it marks the completion of a cycle. These practices using the moon cycle have been around for ages, taken from Pagan and indigenous cultures.

I have watched a multitude of things shift and shed in my life in the last five months since starting this practice and I know that most have resulted from the power of intention setting ceremonies. I let go of the two unhealthy relationships that were in my life and am enjoying my single life, finding beauty in self-love. I have been making very healthy decisions on a daily basis due to living more intentionally. I had wrote down an intention about how I wanted to stay in and cook more in order to save more money, I have been sticking to this pretty well. I have also been good about reaching intentions of staying vigilant in my daily meditation practice, one week I reached my intention of meditating twice a day instead of once a day for one whole week.

I would love to start a community of like-minded people that participate in intentional living practices. I would be more interested in hearing from anyone that has read this far. Do you participate in any moon calendar rituals or ceremonies? Do you practice intentional-based living in your own way? Please comment below or send me a message and let me know!

Reflecting

IMG_6499[1]Recently taken at the beautiful Bryce Canyon National Park just a couple hours from where I now live!

I didn’t intend to write a blog post today.  I actually haven’t been writing a whole lot lately, besides in my journal.  I just had a really intense moment as I hoofed it by foot over to the library this morning (I have been trying to do 1-2 days per week of no driving) and I got inspired.  The moment made me want to write it down as soon as possible before I forgot it.  I thought that this would be the perfect place to share it because I feel like someone out there needs to read it and I haven’t written a post in a while.

Lately I have been stressing out about many different things and it has no doubt been manifesting out into my physical reality.  Just lots of tough, dense, life darkness and yet on the other hand, I know that I have had so many blessings as well.  It’s just that, my monkey mind has been on full-swing and I haven’t been sticking with my meditation practice as strongly as I used to….it truly is amazing to see the difference which occurs when I don’t stick with it.  I don’t want to delve into too many of the details of what is going on in my life, but the best way to put it is that I am finally facing a ton of my crap that I can no longer run away from.

So, as I am walking to the library, with cars whizzing by me, loud sirens and car alarms going off…my mind was doing it’s wandering.  As it was wandering, it was playing out all of these different scenarios, such as “Ohhhh, maybe if I decide to take that path, that will create happiness and peace in my life, ohhhh maybe I shouldn’t have done that and then I wouldn’t have found myself in this situation, etc. etc. etc…” It was creating straight up novels based upon a future that hasn’t happened yet and the past that is no longer.  As the stories built up, the anxiety in my chest got stronger.

I turned the corner to head down the main street that gets me to the library.  Everything went quiet since it’s a residential street and it doesn’t have much traffic usually. All of a sudden, my anxiety dissipated and everything felt just like pure peace.  I looked over to my right and in someone’s house window was a message that simply stated “Enjoy the journey.”  All of my worries, all of my planning just dropped like a giant Jenga tower and again, I just felt the pure peace of the moment.  Not one minute later, I noticed a cemetery to the right of the house that I had never noticed before since I always drive to the library.

As I passed by all the tombstones, the wind gently pushed in the direction towards the library causing a chill up and down my spine. I started reading the messages on the tombstones, one in particular was a man that passed away in 2008, he was almost the exact same age as me. Further on, I kept noticing how unique and personal each tombstone was and how there were so many different ages, from a baby that had only lived a week to a man in his late 90s.  I started nearing towards the end and there was a sign that had a message on it, but it was bent and blocked by a big bush, so the only word that was visible on it was bright lettering that stated:

“NOW.”

It just seemed like a pretty clear message to me, as I was worrying the whole morning and night before. It can all end at any moment, truly, so to stay present with wherever you are is the most important.  I no longer want to dwell on past regrets as there isn’t anything that I can do regarding it, except to accept them as lessons.  I also don’t want to keep projecting a future that is yet to be, as Doris Day sang “whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see.”  While it’s good to do a little bit of planning, it’s also best to adjust to the flow and appreciate what is happening now.  I dunno, just a little musing for this Thursday morning, thanks for reading if ya have thus far.  Peace out!  🙂

Gratitude in Action

“I am so incredibly grateful that you and your car got us from Portland to this trailhead safely,” my friend Mary stated.

And now it was my turn...”I am so incredibly grateful that I have a refrigerator and cupboard stocked full of healthy foods.”

Another steep part of the hike was upon us, we both went back into the solitude of our minds until we reached flat land again.

I am so grateful for the household that I live in,” Mary said.

I am so grateful that I have my health to be able to do this awesome hike,” I said.

My friend Mary and I have been on many hikes throughout the Pacific Northwest together since I started hanging out with her almost three years ago.  A few weeks ago we ventured on a hike and came up with a new way of hiking. Each time we came upon a new incline to hike up, we had to each think of something near and dear to our heart that we were grateful for and then once we reached flat land again, we’d share with each other what we were thinking. We did it in some back lands behind Silver Falls in Silverton, Oregon.  The trail had many inclinations and there were no other souls around.  I felt so light and as if my body was buzzing throughout the hike.

I have always known the power of gratitude as I have seen it work wonders in others’ lives and my own.  Meditation has helped me to further integrate into the wonderful energy of gratitude. By being so completely present in the moment, everything seems like a miracle.  Of course, the monkey mind comes back quite often (dang it, I’m still human!) But for the most part, ever since starting my meditation practice half a decade ago, everything…a spoonful of delicious soup, resting my body on a comfortable bed, or having a meaningful conversation with a dear friend  have all become moments of gold.

A couple different spiritual teachers that I have been listening to lately have inspired me to start a new daily practice, I made up my own term for it, I call it “3 and 3.”  It’s super easy, doesn’t take a lot of time and is incredibly powerful.  I either do it at night or in the morning when I’m having my coffee.  Basically, I list three things in which I am grateful for, but honestly it’s more than just listing them…I actually try to really feel how deep my gratitude is for them.  Then I list three intentions that I have for that day (or if I’m doing this at night, I list three intentions for the next day.) I have found this to be a very powerful practice because more often than not I reach almost all of those intentions that day.

If that seems like a lot of extra activity to your already packed world, maybe just try to do it for the week.  So before the week starts, list three things you intend to get done that week and three things that you are in gratitude of from the last week.  I have found that actually writing them out, with pen and paper really seems to make it happen.  Do whatever works for you yo, I just hope you do give it a shot and see for yourself!

Peace out!