Intention: The Small Act of Rebellion

Dushka Zapata, Guest Writer

I went to a really difficult yoga class today. It wasn’t about elaborate poses. It was about bringing your full intention to the poses you would consider the simplest.

Take Mountain Pose.

It looks like you’re just standing, but done right every muscle in your body should be active, alive.

It’s tragically easy to let your feet relax, a hip jut out, your back slump. All it takes is an instant of distraction.

If you get distracted, your mind wanders.

If your mind wanders, the effect yoga has on you — the centering, the calming, the grounding, the muscle strength, the fitness — is impacted.

Which of course applies to everything.

How many times am I getting ready to go to work and forget — with the chatter in my head, the messages in my phone, the running check list of things I have to do — if I brushed my teeth or not?

How often do we go to work to collect a paycheck in return for minimal effort?

How often do we feel our jobs bore us, that we are disengaged, unfulfilled, feel no passion, that we can do everything “with a hand tied behind our back”?

Take presentation skills, which we use for clients, for each other, for the industry.

How can we present well if the content of our presentation is disconnected from what we believe, from what we are interested in, from what we care about; if it’s a slide we have presented a thousand times before?

You can’t be a good presenter for something you are not fully present for.

You can’t connect with your audience if you are unplugged.

This sense of “minimal effort”, instead of scaring us becomes our prison.

God forbid we end up somewhere that requires effort.

And what about our relationships? Are we there when our family arrives, or do we sit down on the couch, our attention on surfing through channels of bad TV we don’t even want to watch instead of each other?

Letting our brain switch to automatic mode is easy and tempting but instead of refreshing us or providing solace it’s sucking the vitality out of us.

Sleepwalking through life is an epidemic.

We think we are so shrewd, getting away with coasting, but what we are doing with each hour we are not engaged is what we are doing with our life.

Then we wonder: why do I feel lost? Why can’t I find my passion? Why is opportunity so scarce? Why don’t I know where I’m going or what I want to do next?

How on Earth did I end up here?

Which is akin to wondering why we have trouble following a class we seldom bother to attend.

It is so very difficult to be present in Mountain Pose. Sometimes I tell myself so fervently that I need to pay attention that I realize trying to pay attention has distracted me.

Often I am convinced I am absolutely focused, standing straight, feet rooted, and the teacher asks if our core is engaged and I realize mine is not. And once it is, I have completely forgotten about firing up my legs.

Life is the arduous exercise of remaining present, and doing so is an intimate act of rebellion.

The price of not making this effort is to miss everything.

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