Holding Them Lightly: The Power of Intentions

zen candlesI’m a huge fan of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy of fantasy novels. Like many Pullman fans, I consider the first book of the trilogy (The Golden Compass) the most inspired of the three. In that novel, the protagonist (a plucky girl named Lyra) attempts to read the golden compass– a truth-telling instrument. One of the adults tells her, “Hold the question in your mind, but lightly, like it was something alive.”

This is also good advice when it comes to the intentions we set in our yoga/meditation practices. We need to hold these intentions in our minds, but lightly, as if they were living things. Overthinking them, holding them too tightly, can squeeze the life out of them.

Lightly-held intentions are what enable us to carry the energy of our practice into the day and make a positive impact on our spheres of influence. We are bombarded by so much negative energy on a daily basis–hatred, bigotry, violence both emotional and physical. We need strong intentions to counteract this energy and transform it into something life-affirming. We all have the power to change the world in ways great and small. Beginning our daily practice with an intention such as, Today, I will bring the energy of compassion to my interactions with all living things, can have a tremendous impact. It will enable us to be compassionate with ourselves first, when we encounter difficulty with asanas and find our concentration waning during meditation. It will cause us to make allowances for other people, reminding us that everyone struggles and that most people are doing the best they can. It is transformation within that feeds our ability to understand others. Lightly-held intentions can fuel that inner transformation.

Some other positive intentions:

I will be aware of the things that “hook” my anger response, and walk away from such stimuli when I can.

I will remember that I and everyone I meet are part of the intricate web of nature, and behave accordingly.

I will defend the helpless and the voiceless from those who would victimize them.

I will remember that what I call “my self” is actually part of a larger, transcendant Self.

The opportunities for creativity in the creation of positive intentions is virtually endless. We all have the power to change the world. Of course, our intentions are genuinely powerful only when we allow them to shape our habits and actions. Consider this quote from the Dalai Lama:

“I believe that every individual has a responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction. Good wishes alone are not enough; we have to assume responsibility. Large human movements spring from individual human initiatives. If you feel that you cannot have much of an effect, the next person may also become discouraged and a great opportunity will have been lost. On the other hand, each of us can inspire others simply by working to develop our own altruistic motivation.”

The light in me recognizes the light in you!

Best regards,


Image courtesy of yogaofthemind.com

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