1. a thing intended; an aim or plan.
"she was full of good intentions”
2. the action or fact of intending.
"intention is just one of the factors that will be considered”
3. Im leaving out the third definition from the online dictionary because it is patriarchal. (not sorry)
Latin- intendere, Latin- intentio (stretching purpose), Old French- entencion, English- intend.
I spend a lot of time setting intentions. I have a strong, built over time and attention, practice of setting them daily. It started on my yoga mat, I’d set an intention for that day’s practice, be it asana or meditation, I found it so supportive to get clear with myself in the moment. Maybe my intention was to breathe, or find space, or get clear. Maybe my intention had to do with getting curious about different experiences in my physical, mental, emotional or spiritual bodies. No matter what I was intending, setting those intentions brings me a grounded sense of clarity and purpose. I know that i am showing up for my self.
You see, I really love clarity. Im a pretty clear person and I seek comfort in clarity. My most challenging edges in life come up when situations, communications, others, and even myself are not clear. Clarity is my compass, if something does not feel clear I have learned to pump the breaks, to wait, this is not always easy and of course I don't listen sometimes, but those moments always bring more knowledge. So because I am so reliant on clarity, intentions play a really important role for me. They help me get clear about what I wish to give and receive, not only to myself but to those around me.
Being mindful of intentions has also positively informed my relationships and the communication within my most intimate relationships. It can be so easy to create a negative story around things that are said, to take things personally. I have been working with this for myself, and as I become less attached to the personal in all communications I find new freedom. I have a practice that I do to keep me in a responsive space vs a reactive space. I sit with the intention behind what is being communicated to me. If its not clear, I’ll ask for clarity. Ninety percent of the time when I can soften and get to the root of the intention, I can feel that harm was not intended, or that provoking was not intended, etc etc. I can see the human in front of me, the soul in front of me, the love in front of me, the mirror in front of me. There is always something to learn, a way for me to be better and my heart opens to that. To be clear, I have most certainly found myself in communications with those who intentionally do want to hurt me, but with this kind of practice, I have learned to immediately see their pain, and to remember that those who suffer and are in pain so often lash out due to their own circumstance. Its never truly personal. As hard as it can be, I try to soften even more and lend as much compassion as I can. I am open and willing to stretching my purpose.
In my work with grief and the body we always set an intention for our purpose in that moment of the day. After we have explored the body through guided meditation, we sit with anything we may have uncovered, any messages from the body, any messages from our grief. It is from that space that we offer ourselves an intention for the rest of the process to that comes. Some times the intentions jump out in a clear and very loud voice, sometimes they are harder to find, and it may take getting into our journaling, or even the asana practice. I find that on those days if we stay with ourselves, and keep listening to what is within the message will become clear. I always remind those who work with me, that there is no right or wrong, these are simply offerings to help you access your inner self, the parts of you that are there always ready to guide you, should you ask them to.
Latin- intentio (stretching purpose) wow, this really resonates with me. On or off our mats how can we stretch our purpose? As we live our lives with deeper intention what healing can we find? How might this deepen our relationships to ourselves and others?
Today, being Mother’s day felt like the right day to post my first Journal. It was my transition into Motherhood that opened my awareness to the presence of all of the grief I had been experiencing in my life. Like so many of us I have a childhood that was complicated and left me with a lot of pain and suffering. While I did experience happiness and love from my parents and those around me, I also experienced a lot of unstability and confusion. Like so many of us, I was raised by beautiful humans that had their own legacy of pain and suffering that they were working out or leaning into. Its hard for me now to speak ill of my experience, because after years of waking up to myself and my life I have done my work and continue to do my work. I regularly practice forgiveness, I have deep compassion for those who hurt me, and I can easily see the circumstances that created a lineage of suffering that is my ancestry. It is this ability to see that informs my compassion and I can also say that while things in my past were far from perfect, there was a lot of love bestowed upon me. I was loved deeply, and it is that power of love that lifted my strength and ability to change the lineage that I come from. Still, even though I have done my “work” and continue to do that work day in and day out, when i became a mother I was drowning in grief. It was like when I pushed my baby out of my body, the portal that opened set off the strongest rush of grief, like the waters of the most powerful waterfall, and I was flooded. It’s hard to explain in words even, but the grief combined with a very difficult health issue postpartum was a recipe for me to search for support, and I am so grateful that I did, because what has unfolded has changed my life path forever.
Living, at the time in the abundant town of Boulder Colorado I was so blessed to have my pick of so many different types of support for my mental health. I found an amazing therapist who specializes in working with mothers. It was in our sessions together that we started to talk about grief. First just in the context of the grief associated with my birth, because as amazing as having a child is, there is also grief that comes with the process of transition. This grief is not readily discussed, we are not prepared for it, there is no handbook. There are so many factors to this grief and it is so individual, but it is there. In my experience I was grieving the medical birth I had due to my health issues. It was not the birth I had planned, or wanted, and even though I embraced it in the moment, I still needed to grieve the unfolding for my heart and my physical body. Then as I got into my postpartum time and my health crisis got very real, I was grieving my postpartum time, the distraction of my health, the struggle and worry for myself and ultimately my baby who was not, in my mind at the time, getting the all of me that I wanted to give her because i was struggling so much with my body and the fear of this crisis. All of this while being blessed with the greatest gift of my life, witnessing the true miracle unfold in front of my eyes. i can only describe it as one of the most bitter sweet experiences I will ever encounter, the next I feel will most likely be death, as brith and death in my mind are so closely related. While we were looking at and finding ways to process this grief, my therapist gave me the gift of permission to apply grief to my past. We begin to define what loss can be besides death, and what my losses were. Looking at my past through this lens was life changing.
During all of this there was also a Big change happening in my family of origin that I was grieving as well. My Mother left a marriage of 23 years. This is her story to tell, but I do feel i can share how this change effected me. It was a very layered time. My mother was married to a very sick Man, an addict, who could only be described as a true narcissist. He came into our lives when I was 13 years old, and while at the time I knew immediately that there was something very off, I did not have the courage to protest his presence. I wanted my mother to be happy and supported, and for a little while it seemed she was. The reality for me was 23 years of losing my mother, I lost her to a controlling person who acted in all of the classic definitions of narcissistic behaviours, I, as her daughter was his competition. I witnessed his emotional abuse of not only my mother, myself, and my brother, but anyone around him who challenged him. While seemingly a “good” person on the outside, his moods would shift very quickly and we would all be swept away by his darkness, resurface through his overly elaborate gestures of grander to apologize and seek forgiveness and then the cycle would begin again. This was a very dark time for my family, one that we are very much all trying to heal from. While the decision for my Mother to leave was a true celebration for me, it was a very hard situation to be going through as a new mother. There is many layers to this story, but I share this little bit here because it was the ending of this toxic relationship that also contributed to the waterfall of grief for me. I had lost my mother, and I was finally able to grieve that loss, while gaining her back, and what timing! As a new mother to have my mother’s true presence back has been an enormous gift for me.
The recognition of grief being applied to ALL of the losses in my life has been a great gift. I, like so many of us had only every given grief permission to be applied when it was a loss of life. What a disservice I had been giving myself. Through this process I learned that so much of the anger that I was carrying around, was unprocessed grief, once I gave myself the permission to admit the things I had truly lost in my life and grieve them, I was set free. My ability to love the life I am living got very deep, and the compassion, forgiveness and oneness that has flooded into my world has been overwhelming in the best of ways. It truly has been my experience over the last four years of being a mother, and awakening to the grief inside of me that has inspired me to support others through their own processes of grief and loss. I believe that our grief can be one of our greatest gifts. I am very inspired to help to change the conversation about grief, to bring grief into he mainstream with acceptance, and to open the collective heart to what loss truly means and all of the ways we can apply it.
Motherhood is an incredible experience, while I feel the last four years has been incredibly turbulent for me, I finally feel like I am standing on solid ground. I know that being a parent will ebb and flow always, I finally have the ability to trust myself, and lean into what is. I feel more present than i have every been and I know that my daughter is having an incredible experience fo being mothered. I have broken the lineage of my ancestors, the addictions and negative behaviours have ended in my awareness and ability to make a different choice. I know how privileged I am, to have broken free of that, and to be creating a different experience for my child. I do not strive for perfection, ever. I show up every day as my most imperfect self and I do the best I can. I fail some days, we struggle, but most days I go to bed at night with a heart full of gratitude and love for it ALL.
Happy Mothers day to ALL of the women, those who have birthed, adopted, taken on children they did not birth but love unconditionally. To the women who have lost their children, chosen not to have children and terminated pregnancies, my heart is with your hearts and I bow down to the strength it has taken for you to make those decisions. To the women who are not “mothers” but who Mother, thank you thank you thank you for your service in all the ways your support and mother.
And to the GREAT MOTHER, who holds us all on her surface. I pray that we find the ways to heal you, so that you can continue to support all life on this planet.
I am grateful, I am whole, I am loving YOU all.