10 Unusual Ways to Cultivate Gratitude

10 unusual ways to cultivate gratitude, text on top of a photo of pinecones, feathers, and greenery.10 non-traditional ways to cultivate gratitude that feel authentic, sincere, and meaningful, without turning into a game of show-and-tell.

Around this time of year, there are lots of gratitude challenges going on, where people post about something they are thankful for each day. For some, this is a great way to re-focus on the things that matter most to them. For others, it becomes overwhelming, invites comparison, and causes guilt because there is so much heartache in the world and it feels insensitive, or just impossible to focus on gratitude. It can feel like humblebragging. It can look like toxic positivity. Ew, that’s the opposite of what we want, correct?!

Don’t get me wrong; I am deeply committed to gratitude as a practice. It truly can be life- changing, in the right circumstances. A couple years ago, I wanted to come up with a mindful gratitude challenge for myself that went a little deeper, and didn’t feel like playing show-and-tell. You’re welcome to use it like a personal daily challenge, as a conversational springboard for your family, or any way that feels inspiring to you.

  1. Simple Pleasures: Learning to identify and relish the simple pleasures in life is a key step in overcoming ennui, emotional pain, and even trauma, and also in increasing happiness. Cultivating this habit helps to shed the numbness we sometimes embrace to deal with the pain we feel (either physical or emotional). Do something intentionally, and relish the moment.
    Some ideas:

    • Peel and eat an orange -section by section
    • Immerse yourself in nature
    • Read a book next to the fireplace
    • Do some stargazing
    • Make (or listen to) lovely music
    • soak in the tub with yummy oils or salts
    • Put on a pair of fuzzy socks
    • Savor a cup of tea or hot chocolate
    • Watch a sunrise or sunset
    • Light candles at dinner time
    • Mindfully eat Cheetos. I’m not going to judge you.

Check in: Journal about your simple pleasure, including how you experienced it with each of your senses.

  1. First thought of the day: What is the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you grab your phone and start scrolling? Roll out of bed and go brush your teeth? Whatever you do, I’m sure the thought of adding another ‘thing’ to your morning routine doesn’t thrill you…But what if you knew that just 10 seconds (or less) a day had the potential to significantly change your outlook over time? This is one of those habits that is a very small shift in your radius, but those few degrees over time have the power to put you in a very different frame of mind. This is all it is: Encourage your first waking thought of the day be one of gratitude. To help you remember to do this, try putting a sticky note that says “Thank You” on your phone, or the light switch. Some people even tape a picture of a smiley face up on the ceiling above where they sleep. Put up some kind of reminder that you’re sure to see tomorrow, first thing, and then think of something you’re thankful for.Check in: Take a picture of your “reminder”, or what the first thing you see when you wake up is. Is there anything you would change about what you see first thing, to help cultivate a gratitude mindset?
  2. What is not wrong? If you cannot see what is going right in your life, or in the world, start with what is NOT wrong.Thich Nhat Hanh (poet, monk, and peace activist) said, “When we have a toothache, we know that not having a toothache is happiness. But later, when we don’t have a toothache, we don’t treasure our non-toothache.” I can totally relate to this, can you?!So, be as ridiculous or as serious as you like for this challenge. List everything you can think of that is not wrong. A few things on my list: Not thirsty. Not in danger. No hiccups. No broken fingernails. No power outage. Not injured. Not late. Not cold. No migraine. No illness. No broken bones. No hunger. No nausea. No asteroid headed towards me. Not lost. In a social media age where it’s so tempting to compare my gratitude list with the Joneses (aka influencers) and come up short, start with what is not wrong. Build on that. It will help you gain perspective and feel more gratitude for what already IS, in this moment.Check in: In your journal, answer the question: “What is not wrong in my life?”
  3. Take a mindful drink of water: This is a simple exercise in which an everyday practice becomes a restorative anchor of mindfulness and gratitude. You can keep it super simple or fancy it up to become a personal ritual.*Fill a glass with clean water. Watch the water as it trickles into your cup. Note the movement and flow of the water. Feel the weight and heft of the full glass of water held in your hand. Appreciate the clarity and stillness of the water.
    *Drink the water, slowly. Sip it. Savor it. Pause, and take a breath between sips. Note the temperature of the water. Notice how it feels in your mouth and in your throat.
    *Do you notice how drinking water is a sensory experience even though it has no taste or smell? It is a reset. It is the universal palate cleanser. Drinking water reminds us of how mindfulness is like a palate cleanser for our minds. We let thoughts flow past, we savor the stillness.
    *Drinking water reminds us that we are all connected. We are made primarily of water. When we drink water, we become part of the water cycle, and the ocean, the clouds, the trees, and the sun are all in us. (This concept is called inter-being, or non- duality). Cool, right?!Check in: What other lessons does water teach you?
  4. Body appreciation: Think of something about your body (that has nothing to do with how other people visually experience you) that you are grateful for. This could include your physical strength, your ability to use one of your senses, or the joy you feel when you engage in a favorite activity. When I was in nursing school, we got really nerdy and specific about this. (I.e. thankful for my parathyroid gland, my metacarpals, my internal anal sphincter, my digestive enzymes etc.) There are so many things that have to work properly in order to be alive, so many things going right that are too easy to take for granted. You probably already know how easy it is to be critical about your appearance. Those with chronic illness know how easy it is to become frustrated at the functions our bodies can’t reliably perform. (Check out this post on handling body shaming comments from others.) But there is SOMETHING that your body is doing just right. Think about it, and let yourself be thankful for that thing!Check in: Journal or post about something your body can do that you are grateful for.
  5. Put a pencil in your mouth: Ok, I’m kidding, kind of. This challenge is about the power of humor (it is the best medicine, after all). Let me explain: A study from 1988 had participants hold a pencil between their teeth (which forced the individuals to smile) and rate the degree of humor in various cartoons. Other participants were led to frown while watching the same clips. The hypothesis was that participants who smiled would judge the cartoons funnier than the frowning participants, and that’s exactly what happened. A more recent study from 2012 had the participants hold chopsticks between their teeth in a similar manner, and found similar results. They also found that induced smiling may reduce the risk of heart disease. The researchers went on to say that “findings suggest smiling during brief periods of stress may help reduce the body’s stress response, regardless of whether the person actually feels happy or not.” It’s worth mentioning that they also found that the more genuine the smile (i.e. “smiling with your eyes”), the more dramatic the mood change. So what does this have to do with gratitude? Laughter and gratitude go hand in hand when it comes to reducing stress, boosting the immune system, and changing your brain chemistry in ways that increase happiness. While gratitude must be learned and practiced, laughter is innate. Even babies can laugh. Find something that made you genuinely laugh. This can be a story, a photo, a meme, whatever tickles your funny bone or delights you, as long as it is feel- good material.Check in: Now share your funny stuff with a friend who could use a laugh. Enjoy it together. Preferably with a pencil between your teeth.
  6. Recognize your privilege: This one may be uncomfortable, but it is well worth it. Before I go further, I want to say that recognizing your own privilege (that is, the unearned advantages you enjoy, or rather, the oppression you do NOT face) does not equate with saying you are somehow a bad person. Avoid the urge to deny that you have privilege. Pretty much everyone has SOME form of privilege. This really requires some deep reflection. The thing about privilege is it is often invisible to those who have it.Again, acknowledging your privilege is not meant to cause guilt. It is meant to be a catalyst so that you can see more clearly what you can do to level the playing field, to enact social change. Privilege can be present in areas of race, class, gender, ability, sexual orientation, body size and appearance, religion, age, education, physical and mental health, language spoken, and more.When we practice gratitude, we first have to notice what we have. Then, the question “So, what?” arises.Now that we know what we have in our lives, what are we going to do about it? How are we going to improve the world? So this challenge has 2 parts. 1. Try to identify at least 2 ways you are privileged. 2. Think of ways you can equalize privilege (could include sharing your time, money, energy, connections, mobility, etc.). You could donate to a local food pantry or shelter. Or raise awareness for causes that you think are really great. Use your privilege to amplify the voices of marginalized people who are already using their voice. Follow diverse people on social media.

    Check in: If you have read an impactful book, or you follow someone on social media that has helped you in this area, how about sharing some of their content with a friend, or on social media?

  7. Feel- Good Playlist: Music has the power to evoke memories, shift emotions, and change our whole vibration.Think of a song that makes you happy when you listen to it. It could be a song that changed your life, one that gives you warm fuzzies, or one that gets you pumped up for the day. Listen to it and do what your heart wants you to do– dance to it, sing along, put earbuds in, turn it up, close your eyes and sway, or whatever makes your heart light. If you don’t already have a playlist of music that makes you feel hopeful, joyful, or excited, consider making one to listen to whenever you need a pick-me-up.*Here’s a link to the collaborative playlist I made with people’s suggestions on Spotify when I posed this challenge on social media a while back.Check in: Find out what the go-to songs are in your loved ones’ lives are and ask them what they appreciate about them.
  8. Identify a flower/compost/flower cycle in your life: There is a parable about a wise farmer and a foolish farmer. The foolish farmer wants their farm to be “clean” and look pristine. This farmer works hard to remove all the piles of rotten, stinky compost. Then, at planting time, the farmer goes out and buys someone else’s compost and lays it down in the fields. On the other hand, the wise farmer takes in their piles of stinky compost and works with it, raking it into piles and letting it sit in the sun. This farmer recognizes the seed of creation inside the pungent smell, and doesn’t feel shame about the decomposition happening all around their farm. When the time is right, the farmer will spread it in the fields, and grow beautiful plants with it. This farmer also knows that once the crops are spent, they will be added back into the compost piles and contribute to the cycle of decomposition, creating rich soil for the next generation of crops to grow.*The creation of beautiful crops was in the “disgusting” compost… and those beautiful plants will return to being compost. Creation and destruction are part of one whole. If we can have the courage to recognize this cycle in ourselves, it allows us to be curious and non-judgemental with ourselves and eventually grow into exactly who we are.*When we dislike something in ourselves, and we bury, hide, or displace it, we begin to judge ourselves harshly. Eventually that judgement extends to others. We go to extreme measures to keep from seeing our own “messy”, and we get super uncomfortable with vulnerability in ourselves and those around us.*When we have the commitment and compassion to sit with the difficult things in ourselves, we may find that what is “disgusting” in us holds the fertile soil to allow what is beautiful to grow.Consider how the metaphor of this field, with its crops and compost, show up in your life.

    Check in: Answer these questions for yourself- Are there any changes you would like to make? How can you show yourself more compassion? Are there any “compost” things in your life that you can look back and feel grateful for?

  9. Reflect Back: Sometimes we view gratitude as being almost self- serving. As in an attitude of “it doesn’t matter what sad things are happening in the world, I’m just going to focus on my blessings and what’s good for me”. But that attitude clearly lacks real thankfulness and empathy.Gratitude researcher Robert Emmons of UC Davis said, “True gratefulness rejoices in the other. Its ultimate goal is to reflect back the goodness that one has received by creatively seeking opportunities for giving.”Reflect back the goodness in your life. How can you share it, and rejoice in goodness in other’s lives?Check in: If you are food secure, can you donate some food or money to a food bank or shelter? If you enjoy good health, can you donate to cancer research, a children’s hospital, or mental health non-profits? You could leave an anonymous gift for someone in need, or participate in an art abandonment group. Maybe your “reflecting” looks like spending time in person or on the phone with someone who might need some extra love during this time of year.

I hope this list gives you some ideas of different ways to cultivate gratitude that feel authentic, sincere, and meaningful. I encourage you to come up with other creative ways to find joy in the good things that already exist in your life.

Migraine Checklist: Options for a mindful approach

Migraines- ugh. Anyone else out there regularly deal with these joy- sucking neurological events? If so, you truly have my sympathy. Like so many migraine- experiencers, I have done hours of research, spent so many dollars, and tried so many therapies to rid myself of migraines. I have created a migraine checklist that is a compilation of the things I have tried that have helped, and a few that I haven’t tried but personally know people who have with good results.

Disclosure: Wild Goose Meditation is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, and we may earn a small commission on items you purchase using our links, at no additional cost to you.

I should note that while I have had a measure of success with many remedies I have tried, I haven’t yet found any treatment that is 100% foolproof. When I feel one of these headaches coming on, I try to use my intuition to select a treatment, or multiple treatments. Sometimes I can nip it in the bud, sometimes it takes a few hours, and sometimes I just have to accept that today I am going to experience this and go to bed for the day.

I am lucky enough to have a prescription that works for me most of the time, but it does have side effects, and I am not always willing to trade discomforts. Other people I know can’t take prescription medication because it doesn’t work for their particular migraines, or they are pregnant, or have medication interactions. It’s good to have options that are alternatives to medication. So, most of these therapies are non- pharmaceutical, with a few exceptions.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and I cannot diagnose, prescribe or treat any conditions. Feel free to peruse my list, but do consult your physician and do your own research about treatment options- you use them at your own risk.

First things first

Before anything else, ask yourself these questions and address them if needed:

  • How is my hydration? Do I need to drink?
  • How are my electrolytes? Do I need salt? Potassium? Magnesium?
  • Where is my blood sugar at? Do I need to eat?
  • How is my stress level?

It seems basic, but it’s worth saying. Consider your hydration and electrolyte balance. This probably won’t treat your migraine by itself, but dehydration and low electrolytes will make your migraine worse. Make sure you’re getting enough clean water each day. At minimum, your weight in pounds divided by 2 is the number of ounces of water you should be drinking every day. As for electrolytes, you could definitely drink a sports drink or use an oral rehydration solution, but you can easily replenish your electrolytes with food, or by drinking an electrolyte drink called solé that you can make yourself.  Beyond that, just try to make sure your needs as outlined in the bullet points are being met.

Migraine checklist: first line treatments

It’s also important to act as soon as you become aware of your migraine. Early treatment is key. If you have an aura before your migraine, start right then, or at the first sign of pain. Some first- line treatments include:

  • Hot/ cold therapy- Depends on the person; some people get relief with hot packs on their heads/ necks. Others prefer cold packs, and still others swear by using a combination of heat and cold on various parts of their body. For me, heat on my neck with my heating pad is usually the most successful option (This is the one I have).
  • Acupressure- stuff you can try on your own, like ear seeds (tiny seed on an adhesive patch that you put in a specific place on your ear depending on what you want to treat), wearable acupressure devices (like this one that you wear on the webbing between your thumb and index finger). 
  • Aromatherapy- as long as you’re not smell sensitive. If scents worsen your headache or cause nausea, skip this. Otherwise, peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus essential oils are great options to quell nausea, tension, and sinus pressure, which sometimes contribute to migraines.
  • Breathwork- The breath is an under-appreciated yet powerful tool in your arsenal! Changing your breath can slightly alter the acid/ base balance in your blood. It also has the power to release tension you hold in your body, so don’t overlook this option. There are two main breath exercises I use when I have a headache.
    • Balanced breath: this exercise is about as easy as it gets! Just breathe in to a slow count of four, and breathe out to a slow count of four. Continue as long as it feels good, but try for a minimum of a minute.
    • Sitali Pranayama: this is a traditional cooling yoga breath. Roll your tongue into a ‘U’ shape, with the tip of your tongue just past your lips. Inhale deeply through your mouth, through the rolled tongue. Exhale through your nose. (If you can’t roll your tongue, just breathe over a flat tongue.) Repeat for 8-12 breaths, or up to 3 minutes at a time. I have tried this with good results, especially when paired with other approaches.
  • Body scan- Some migraines are triggered by tension held in the body. Assess your musculoskeletal system, and focus on letting tension drain from your body. Check out this body scan script if you need ideas.

Nutritional supplements

Consider taking vitamins and supplements that may help with migraines. Keep in mind that while there is anecdotal evidence for these options, the research is ongoing and in some cases inconclusive. I recommend that you do your own research and consider checking with your doctor or pharmacist before starting a new supplement, especially if you’re already taking medication. Here are the supplements that have helped me to some degree:

  • Magnesium
  • B-vitamin complex
  • Feverfew
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
  • Omega-3s
  • CBD oil
  • Natural caffeine
  • Ginger/ Turmeric

This is by no means an exhaustive list. On the subject of nutrition, however, it’s worth pointing out that there are foods you may need to eliminate from your diet. Some people find that their migraines are triggered by wheat/ gluten, alcohol, chocolate, dairy, caffeine, or sugar. Many people experience a fewer migraines when they adhere to the ketogenic diet.

Know your triggers

Prevention is, of course, best. Knowing what things tend to trigger migraines (even if you can’t always pinpoint it) is an essential strategy. So, do what you can to understand your migraine triggers. These things might help:

  • Keep a migraine journal
  • Use a migraine tracking app (like Migraine Buddy)
  • Chart your menstrual cycle (if applicable)
  • Consider: Am I light sensitive? (Make sure you have good sunglasses to wear outside, and an eye mask to wear during a migraine.) Motion sensitive? Sound sensitive? (I have worn noise dampening earplugs with good results when I am in noisy crowds.) Weather sensitive? Smell sensitive?
  • Are you getting enough good quality sleep? (If not, and especially if you have neck or shoulder pain, reevaluate the pillow you are sleeping on! There is no pillow that is perfect for everyone. Some people love memory foam contoured pillows, others love buckwheat filled pillows, etc. Find the one that feels best.)

It might be worth visiting your physician and getting lab tests done to rule out allergies, nutrient deficiencies, or an autoimmune condition. If you often have neck, shoulder, or back pain that precludes a migraine, it would definitely be a good idea to visit a chiropractor or physical therapist. Things like poor posture and pinched nerves are very treatable causes of headaches. When I went to my chiropractor, I got X-rays done that showed a congenital abnormality in my spine around my neck, and knowing that definitely affects what I do to prevent and treat my migraines.

If you can afford to get regular massages, or you have a friend or partner who is willing to work on your neck and shoulders consistently, this can help prevent tension from building up, which can sometimes trigger a migraine. Even if it doesn’t prevent every migraine, it’s a pretty pleasant form of self- care! I regularly use this neck and shoulder massager during the winter, which is migraine season for me. 

Speaking of triggers… If your migraines are related to muscle tension at all, you should know about trigger point therapy. This therapy goes along with massage, but it is not so pleasant, at least not for me! This involves the masseuse putting firm pressure on your muscle knots until they release. Painful, but effective. I also have a trigger point device that I can use on myself.

Get creative

If you’re willing to try some non- traditional forms of treatment, there are even more options available to you for treating migraines.

  • Binaural beats- “A binaural beat is an illusion created by the brain when you listen to two tones with slightly different frequencies at the same time.”- Source: WebMD. Basically you listen to these tracks (often paired with music) through headphones so that each ear receives a slightly different frequency, and your brain perceives a third frequency that isn’t really being played, but is the result of your brain trying to incorporate the different frequencies into one unified frequency. This is called brain wave entrainment, and depending on the sound frequencies played, it induces different brain wave states. Brain waves in the delta range are associated with deep sleep, pain relief, cortisol reduction, and deep meditation. Migraine relief is not a sure thing, but it helps some people, some times. Research at least agrees that it can’t hurt, although you may want to steer clear if sound sensitivity is a thing for you during a migraine. Search “binaural beats for migraine” on YouTube or Spotify, and look for tracks that use low (delta) frequency, under 4 Hz. Read more about binaural beats for migraine here.
  • Green light therapy– there is some research out there about using green LED light to alleviate migraine pain, and even decrease the frequency of migraine headaches (after months of use). I have not personally tried this, but it might be worth looking into.
  • Biofeedback- This amazing therapy has been extensively studied and found to be very helpful for sufferers of both migraines and tension headaches, along with a host of other issues. This therapy teaches you to control some of your body’s functions that are normally beyond your control. Electrodes connected to your skin measure things like heart rate, breathing, muscle contraction, skin temperature, and even brain waves. Then you undergo training to learn to control those things. This training can take place in a therapist’s office, but there are some options becoming available for home practice as well. This is definitely worth looking into if you haven’t tried it already!
  • EFT/ tapping- This is a highly studied modality based on Chinese medicine. (Seriously, there is tons of reputably published research. My child’s therapist even uses this with her patients.) Basically, you use your fingers to gently tap on specific areas on the body that are energy centers, while repeating certain phrases. This helps “dislodge” stuck emotions, and sends signals to the part of the brain that controls stress. The result is that negative emotions are neutralized, stress is reduced, and physical healing can begin. Read more about it here. Use the setup phrase “Even though I have this _______________, I deeply and completely accept myself”. You can fill in the blank generically with “migraine”, but it is more helpful to be specific, i.e. “shooting pain behind my eyes” or “vise around my temples” etc.

A little more extreme

These last few options are a little more extreme, and none of them are a silver bullet, but they might be worth researching and considering if they might offer you some relief:

  • Daith piercing- this is an ear piercing that goes through the ear’s innermost cartilage fold. It is placed over an acupuncture point that is supposed to relieve headache pain. The research is very mixed about whether it is helpful or not. I personally have a daith piercing on each ear. My experience was that it was more painful than a regular earlobe piercing, and that it took nearly a year to be fully healed. During that time, I did experience fewer migraines. Now that they’re healed, I do think fiddling with them or changing out the earrings- anything that causes slight inflammation- helps slightly. That is just my opinion. The TLDR is a daith piercing might help, a little. I really like my piercings anyway, but it might not be worth it if you don’t want the look as well.
  • Botox injections- I have not tried this, but I personally know people who swear by it. Basically, botox is injected into one of several muscle groups around the face, head, neck, or shoulders. Whatever your trigger area is that holds tension. This needs to be repeated about every 3 months, and it is not cheap. This treatment definitely isn’t for everyone, and it is only FDA-approved for those who experience migraines more than 15 days out of a month. It’s good to know what the options are, however.
  • Acupuncture- Another one that I have not tried, but does help some who can handle dealing with needles. It is also based on Chinese medicine and meridians (energy pathways in the body). The American Migraine Foundation states “It’s not completely clear how acupuncture eases pain or decreases migraine. The overarching belief is that it activates pathways in the brain that are responsible for turning pain off.”

Practice mindfulness.

This is really important, both when you are in the midst of a migraine, and when all is well! When you don’t have a migraine, try to note it. “Noticing what is not wrong” is one method of practicing mindfulness. Obviously, it is so much easier to identify what is going wrong. As human beings, we are hardwired to do so- it is an evolutionary survival mechanism. Find the thing that isn’t right, fix it, survive another day. It becomes less helpful in these modern times where our survival isn’t at stake, but those mental pathways remain. Now we’re stressed because of it! So we purposefully try to do the opposite. We identify the non-toothache, non-migraine, non-hunger, non-embarrassment, and this is a practice of mindfulness. It is also, as you might guess, a practice of gratitude.

When you do have a migraine, instead of panicking, try to bring that same quality of noticing and identifying. Note the location, quality, and movement of the pain. Be curious, and follow it. It is sometimes (though not always) possible to halt a headache just by paying attention to it and not fighting it. But if not, learning about where and how you feel your headache pain can help strengthen your intuition about how to treat it, or at least give clues about what triggered it.

Last but not least, a word about acceptance and expectations. This post is all about trying different things to find relief from migraine pain. I hope if you try some of the things on this list that they will help you. In fact, during the course of writing this article I had a migraine come on, and I hit it with half a dozen of the things I mention in the post. Luckily, my migraine abated without me needing to take my prescription. I wish that for you, too. But here’s the thing: when we become too attached to an outcome, or we refuse to accept what IS, we create more suffering for ourselves. I’m not saying don’t try to relieve and prevent pain. Of course not. But try to approach whatever is happening at the moment with equanimity. Try not to attach negative meaning to your migraines. I promise that will help you see the situation with more clarity.

I wish you the best on your mindful migraine healing journey. <3

 

Setting an intention for meditation and yoga

Do you set an intention for your personal meditation and/or yoga practice? Or, do you wonder if there’s a point? Is it just a new age-y way to say you’re setting a goal? And what should your intention be, anyway???!!! If you’ve ever been stressed during yoga or meditation class about what this whole intention thing is, keep reading!

Setting an intention is a powerful way to align your head, your heart, and your body and attract positive energy into your life. It is a bit like making a goal, but there are some important differences. Understanding these differences between a goal and an intention might point you in the right direction.

Imagine that you’re planning a hike up to a beautiful vista- you’re not there yet, but you can clearly see where you want to end up when all is said and done. A goal has to do with reaching this *future* destination. An intention has to do with the journey you are currently on toward that destination, whether you arrive at the top or not. It has to do with being immersed in the *present* moment.

If you just love making goals, there’s nothing wrong with that! So go ahead and picture where you’d like to see yourself at a specific, later date- this is your destination, your goal for the future.

Now let’s focus on the journey- this is how you’re going to get there, starting right this minute. What do you want the journey to be like? Is there a feeling or quality that you would like to cultivate- in life in general, the next month, the next minute? Keep in mind that your intention is something you can attain, moment by moment, regardless of whether you reach a future goal- or not.

For clarity, you might want to ask yourself:

  • Who/ what matters most to me?
  • What am I most thankful for?
  • How do I feel when I am my happiest self?
  • What words resonate with me?

Examples of possible intentions include: peace, unconditional love (giving or receiving), balance, equanimity, optimism, forgiving self or others, courage, focus, patience, flexibility, faith, connection, embracing change, soft/open heart, resilience, etc.)

Once you have an impression of what your intention should be, try to distill it down to as few words as possible- focusing on what you want, rather than what you want to avoid. This is the feeling you want to come away with, after your practice. It is the quality you would like to color your life, your goals, your successes and your struggles with.​

You might find it helpful to write this word or phrase somewhere you’ll see it often, or create a “trigger” by associating your intention with an object you see or handle fairly often, like a piece of jewelry or a pocket stone, etc. For me, the wrist mala (meditation bracelet) I wear daily reminds me of my personal intention. Do whatever works for you!

These instructions can help you identify your intention for your life right now. However, you can always set a time- specific intention that is just for the duration of a yoga class, a difficult conversation, or some other short- term activity.

Now that you have identified your intention, you have a couple of options. First, you can just mentally set it aside. Yep! Your subconscious mind will remember it and help you create the connections you need. Second, you could use that word or short phrase of your intention as a personal mantra to repeat with each breath you take while you sit in meditation or do your yoga set. It’s totally up to you and what feels natural in the moment.

Got a question about setting an intention that we didn’t cover? Feel free to leave a comment, or send us a DM on Instagram. <3

No Mud, No Lotus -Thich Nhat Hanh

Book Info:

No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering, by Thich Nhat Hanh. Available as eBook or paperback (128 pages).

“The main affliction of our modern civilization is that we don’t know how to handle the suffering inside us and we try to cover it up with all kinds of consumption.”

Summary:

Most people don’t like to be with pain or suffering – especially not their own. We may talk about topics such as grief, sorrow, and pain, but it is rare that a book will help us learn to first sit with the suffering and understand it – and then even transform it. Often meditation books address the positive feelings and benefits that come from a meditative practice. These books may also address philosophy. But few books so specifically guide the reader to find the peace, beauty, and transformation through sitting with our pain, sorrow, and fear. A wonderful introduction to understanding our difficult emotions, it also helps us understand our selves better in the process.

Things to Know:

  • Written in Thich Nhat Hanh’s signature gentle style, this book has many deep concepts that are written in an understandable way.
  • This books explores difficult human emotions and experiences. While it is powerful, at its core, this book is an introduction. If implemented, this book will guide the reader to sit with, understand, and transform emotions and feelings the reader may not have known how to explore in the past.
  • If you are looking for a deep exploration of sorrow, transformation, and meditation, this is a good starting point. Other books you may be interested in are: Radical Acceptance, and Solve for Happy.

The Bottom Line:

This book will help the reader release past grievances and work through sorrow. Self discovery and healing await those who practice the exercises and teachings in this book.

The Verdict:

Check out more of our “short and sweet” book reviews HERE.

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The End of Your World – Adyashanti

Book Info:

The End of Your World: Uncensored Straight Talk on the Nature of Enlightenment, by Adyashanti. Available as eBook, paperback (240 pages), or audiobook (7 hours, 33 minutes).

“When you get out of the driver’s seat, you find that life can drive itself, that actually life has always been driving itself. When you get out of the driver’s seat, it can drive itself so much easier—it can flow in ways you never imagined. Life becomes almost magical. The illusion of the “me” is no longer in the way. Life begins to flow, and you never know where it will take you.”

Summary:

This book is a breath of fresh air and came at the right time for me. Written in both a gentle and bold tone, it embodies wisdom and compassion at the same time. For those meditators who have felt a level of transformation and are wondering “…What now?”, this book refreshingly comes with clear insights and answers. The writing is clear about finding enlightenment, the nature of enlightenment, and losing enlightenment. It defines aspects of compassion, growth and change, and the human condition that are often over-looked, and is delivered in Adyashanti’s signature understanding and clear style.

Things to Know:

  • This book assumes a familiarity and/or experience with meditative terms.
  • This book has many life-changing and profound concepts, however, it will not probably not appeal to those interested in meditation as a means to an end. If you are seeking out meditation for insomnia or reduced stress this book may not interest you.

The Bottom Line:

This book is aimed at the meditator interested in the topic of enlightenment. Learning to find greater clarity and peace in one’s own life is the journey of a lifetime, and this book addresses all of these topics and more like few books before it have.

The Verdict:

Check out more of our “short and sweet” book reviews HERE.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you if you purchase using our link.