I am, admittedly, a little bougie, so I go to the occasional fitness class that costs more than my weekly grocery bill. During these 45-minute sessions where I am sweating out every penny I’ve ever made, I am often asked by an instructor in a couture sports bra to set and continually revisit an “intention”. You know, the “Why the hell are you here?” portion of the experience.
It doesn’t matter the type workout, the question remains the same, “But seriously though, what are you doing in this room right now?” Usually he or she says, “Don’t even, for one minute, let your mind wander outside of where you are in this moment. Focus. Breathe. What do you want out of the next hour of your life?” Depends on the day for me, I suppose. I might just want to eat a piece of cake later. Other times, I literally tear up, getting overwhelmed with the emotions surrounding a 2-minute sprint on a bike that isn’t even moving.
All jokes aside, this question is a valid one. What are we doing right now? Today? In this lifetime? If we take this question outside of the yoga or spin studio for a change, how does it scale and impact our answer?
Like most people, I have a morning routine. Mine is a little weird, since I have to incorporate drawing blood from my finger and clipping my pump on to my bra like I’m some sort of bionic soldier or am getting dressed for a Gaga concert. But this morning, as low, early sunlight seeped into my room, I stood, coffee in hand, and had a little think to myself.
I test my blood sugar every single morning before I go anywhere. I need to know exactly where my number stands in order to begin my day. It’s like going through the scanner at the airport, I’m like, 84% confident I didn’t pack my big bottle of contact solution in my carry on, but it still feels good to know when I’m cleared.
Though it’s not as exciting as waiting for an answer from a Magic 8 ball or reading a fortune cookie, whatever number appears on my tiny little meter is going to set the tone for my whole morning whether I like it or not. Today I lucked out and got a happy little ‘130’. So, by default, I naturally felt prompted to set an intention for my day, just the way my over-enthusiastic and questionably muscular spin instructor would bark at –err I mean, encourage me to.
If I wake up soaring in the 200’s, I try not to judge myself too harshly, I quickly correct, and remind myself that I am not perfect. I tell myself I will hustle a little harder to stay on top of everything that day. I will be more modest and self-aware, and I will try to be gentle with other people since all of us wake up feeling defeated sometimes.
[My intention is to add a little extra oomph, but take time to pay attention to the details.]
Being low first thing isn’t ideal, either. I don’t exactly like panicking within 5 seconds of opening my eyes. I also get discouraged when I feel like I’m immediately scarfing down empty calories the morning after a particularly demanding workout. I feel small and weak. But know that with a little time, I’ll be back where I need to be. Set backs are not endings.
[My intention is to be tough and patient.]
When I wake up where I should be, like today, I give myself a little pat on the shoulder and a mental sticker/cookie, if you will. I try to fill my heart with gratitude that things are just as they should be and be happy I have my health and the ability to move forward with my morning without any major challenges.
[My intention is to be appreciative, honest, and give myself credit where credit is due.]
In our culture (and by “our” I mean living in NYC at age 26), we don’t take time for ourselves in the morning. In fact, we take as little time for ourselves as possible because…sleep, duh. But, if you can manage to get your ass out of bed and give yourself a 10 minute time cushion to maybe sit and eat your breakfast you’ll be shocked. No one really thinks to reflect before the day even starts, but I find that the days I really do it right, I am eternally grateful to myself for properly turning my brain on. Not only does it allow me time to set my intention more genuinely, it also narrows down my chances of showing up to work profusely sweating and hungry.
Give it a try tomorrow and let me know how it goes.