For almost twenty years I’ve been getting up every Tuesday and Friday morning at 5:00 a.m. I drink a cup of tea, then head out to my 6:00 a.m. class at Two Dog Yoga. It is a five minute walk. I love, love, love this teacher and this class.
Annie often points out that it’s a select group of people who show up for an early morning yoga class. That makes us feel special—sort of chosen. Then she points out that sunrise is an auspicious time to practice. That creates excitement! What will we Chosen discover in our yoga this morning? It’s a wonderful way to start the day.
One of the things many yoga teachers suggest is to “set your intention,” for class. I always come up with things like, “I’m going to be really focused.” “I’m going to hold plank longer.” “I am going to fully relax into the hip stretch.”
But of course because of COVID I haven’t been in yoga class for months.
So recently I was watching an interview with yoga teacher Adriene Mishler. She said that setting your intention is asking yourself, “How do I want to feel?“
We are such rational, intellectual, thinking-thinky-thinkish-thinkerly people who want to take action! How do I want to feel? Not what do I want to get done? How do I want to feel seems indulgent, almost lazy. Oh—did Mary and Martha just pop into your head? Yeah, me too.
She suggested contemplating the question for a moment. Then say, “Today I choose to feel _________.” Sit with that for a moment and then—imagine that it’s already so.
So let’s say your intention is to feel calm today. Sit with that and then imagine—know—that you are already calm. Wow—that just seems like magic.
Then it dawned on me that maybe this is why all the saints begin their days with prayer—they are setting their intentions. There is a verse in Lamentations that nails this.
Lamentations 3:22-23, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; God’s mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is God’s faithfulness.”
Mercies are new every morning. You don’t have to ask for them, they already are. How do you want to feel? Forgiven? Blessed? Guided? Comforted? Choose. Now imagine that it already is.
Every morning since George Floyd died my intention has been to feel hopeful, but I’ll tell you that has been a struggle. Only just now am I really starting to feel it—and that’s only because of stories of peaceful protests, police officers taking a knee and worldwide outrage. Could it maybe, possibly be—the beginning of real change?
I tell you this because I think if at first your feeling doesn’t change, that’s okay, because your intention counts. Whatever your desired feeling is—hopefulness, courage, enthusiasm—your intention will help you see and hear in a way that feeds that desire. So my ears and eyes are open to things that feed my desire for hope.
In this same interview, Adriene is asked, “What three poses would you have the U.S. president do?”
I couldn’t wait to hear her answer! Child’s pose because he is one? Headstand to bring some blood to his brain? Cow pose—for obvious reasons.
Clearly she is much more evolved than I.
“I would like for the President of the United States to do any three poses that include namasté. I say that because namasté is an acknowledgment that we are one, that we’re all in this together, we are equal, we’re all the same and we’re all equally beloved and beautiful. Namasté also has a beautiful integrity to it that says, ‘I respect you and all that you are. I respect me and I can respect both of us.’ Or more traditionally: the Divine in me honors the Divine in you. It would be really nice for the president to practice namasté and see what happens.”
My yoga teacher here in Seattle is right: before or at sunrise is an auspicious time to practice—yoga or prayer or meditation. It’s a way to mindfully start the day. I want to start this day feeling loving. God’s mercies are new every morning. Deep breath. Long sigh. It is already so.
So let me say, “Namasté, Mr. President.”