Many of us wander through our lives rather aimlessly, like walking through a gallery when we have some time to kill. I am certainly guilty of this. Sure, there are people who make lists and strike off the tasks as they get accomplished. On the face of it, one would think they are leading very intentional lives. They make plans and accomplish their goals with military precision. They almost glow with pride and look down with pity at the rest of us.
But is that really intentionality? Have they looked at the bigger picture? Have they done the “inner work”, so to speak, to know in their bones who they are?
Sure, the tasks of daily living need to get done and the list makers are efficient at it. But what about setting aside time to figure out who we really are, what we desire and most importantly, what is our role on this planet? I don’t know many people who are that tuned in.
With the advent and universality of technology at our fingertips, it seems more of as are on auto-pilot. Being lost in whatever images we stare at on our screens all day long, is not very conducive to introspection. Introspection is uncomfortable, not fun and sometimes downright painful! Who wants to do that when we can be steadily and reliably entertained by the latest celebrity gossip or funny cat videos?
But, I think we may wake up someday and realize that we were not present for our lives as it unfolded, that we have strayed down a rogue path that we didn’t even realize we were on. That would just feel so awful!
The good news is that, luckily it is never too late to course correct. Even though we all know that our time here is limited, we still behave like we have all the time in the world! It is the ultimate paradox.
One of the greatest tools that we have is easily accessible, free and very effective. It is our breath. For centuries, across cultures, meditative practices have been in use. Our ancestors were smart…or we wouldn’t be here!! Modern life is not unlike the savanna. There are stressors and distractors around every corner.
We need to be in charge of our own lives. We need to prioritize what is important, what deserves our attention and focus. I have found that taking just ten to fifteen minutes a day, in the morning to focus on my breathing, without necessarily trying to “empty my mind”, makes my day flow better. I am less stressed and distracted and am able to step back and look at the bigger picture. This allows me to be less reactive and more responsive.
At the end of my life, I think I would like to know that I was in charge of my life, that it was my own and not hijacked by anyone or anything else.
Do you feel like you are able to live an intentional life, on your terms? If so, can you share some tips? And if not, has this post given you some inspiration to change?