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Fharma- Setting the compass

Fharma- Setting the compass

I’ve been thinking a lot about Intention lately.

How powerful it is.

And how often I can live my days on automatic pilot- the opposite of intentional.

This week, in the new Mindfulness class I am teaching in the cottage, I shared my favorite Zen saying:

The most important thing is to remember the most important thing”.

We explored this week how our Intention is the cornerstone of our meditation practice. Beginning each meditation by quieting the mind and internally asking, “What matters most?  What really matters to me?”,  sets the heart’s compass and allows everything to unfold naturally from there.

During this exercise, we realized we can go days, even weeks without checking in with our heart’s intention.

One young woman confided, “When I asked myself that question and didn’t hear an answer, I panicked a little.  What if I don’t know what matters most?”

Bless her heart. I know that feeling.

Yes, we can get so lost in the static of our busy-ness that we forget what our own voice sounds like. But, in my experience, the more we practice quieting the mind and relaxing the body, the clearer our own voice becomes. It’s as if meditation helps us tune to a different channel- off of the static-filled “talk radio” of the busy, outside world and on to the clear, calm music of our inner wisdom.

And, when this happens, the answer is always there.  Always.

I promised her that by the end of our 6-week class, she’ll hear what matters most.

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Intention, to me, is very different than goal-setting.

Reaching goals is often a linear process- getting from point A to point B. And usually has a time frame to it – a deadline. It is mostly about “doing” not being. And has the flavor of “fixing” something- fixing me, fixing you, fixing the situation.  Goals are helpful and necessary. But they are not foundational like Intention.

Intention, on the other hand, is about settling back into our center point. Instead of trying to get somewhere else, we are returning … to the starting point. When we ask ourselves some version of the question “what matters most to me- right now, today, in my life?”- it is as if we are being called back home after being lost in the woods.

Sometimes, only when we stop our frantic, noisy, forward motion- and actually stand still and listen- can we hear that voice calling us back. Home.

So, for me and many others, the path toward real happiness began when I finally stopped moving, turned my attention inward, asked and listened.   What began as simply the first step of my meditation practice, turned into the cornerstone of an intentional life.

Many people ask Tim and me how we knew we wanted to farm. The answer is “oh, we didn’t!”

Even 5 years ago, if you had said I’d be breeding sheep, collecting eggs and driving a tractor, I probably would have laughed.

But about 7 years ago, tired and a little lost, we did begin to ask ourselves questions. Big ones. “What does happiness feel like for me? For you? What matters most? And, am I willing to create a life that nurtures what matters most… even if it means letting go of what is familiar?”

To be honest, it was a little scary. We didn’t know what answers we would hear. And what if we heard different answers? But we trusted the process. We knew what we found would be the truth, and we were each dedicated to living this “next chapter” from the truth of what matters ( I mean, what’s the alternative?! We certainly knew what that felt like.)

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The beauty of asking questions about Intention is that the answers come from within. They are individual. Non-controversial. Clear. Certain. And, at the same time, amazingly universal.

For us, words like: health, happiness, peace, connection, family, creativity and freedom came up for us in different forms.

And over the next few years, we let our intentions lead us into our version of “the good life”. It was almost as if those answers formed the “footers” and we built this farm life up from there. Never really knowing what the whole structure of our life will look like from year to year, we try to take time every season to check in and make sure that what we are doing is still tied into “what matters most”.

I gotta say, it still blows me away when I look out my window at animals grazing in the sun and chickens roosting in the trees. My heart swells with gratitude for this life- one I couldn’t have fabricated by just “thinking” it up.  This crazy, wonderful farm life is rooted deep in my intention to be happy, and free and peaceful. And it is a creative work in progress, for sure.

Yet, even with all this beauty and healthy living, I still lose my way. I get busy. I forget. I get obsessed (oh yes, I do have an obsessive mind. Bless it’s spinning-hamster-wheel self !)

So I need my meditation practice to re-set my inner compass. Daily.

I invite you to try it.

Take a break each day to Pause, Breathe deeply, and Ask the heart “so… what do I really care about? What matters most… in this moment, in my life?”  Repeat it slowly if necessary until you can feel your own sincerity.     And then listen for the answer.

And let the answer guide you through the day… informing your actions, enriching your relationships, inspiring your goal-setting.

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May you be happy.

May you be healthy.

May your life be guided by your own true north.

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“ The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”                     - Michael Altshuler

 

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