In any given moment, we can increase our awareness of our direct experience by directing our attention to what is being received by our senses, be it touch, taste, sights, sounds, and fragrances. Bringing our attention to what is present brings a greater aliveness to our experience which creates a space of openness to the unfolding. This openness to possibility creates a sense of ease not only for ourselves, but for those around us.
So, this simple act of bringing our attention more fully to the moment creates the container of the moment for ourselves and whoever is in our presence. Our quality of attention affects our immediate surroundings, which also sets the tone and the stage for the container of the next moment—and so on, and so on. When we bring this heightened awareness to each moment, our lives unfold more naturally, without force and constraint. This allows for a deepening of connection with the moment and others that are present.
The intention we bring to each moment sets the stage for what we will receive from the moment. Is our intention to create a particular outcome? Are we showing up with an expectation from the moment? You can imagine how showing up with an intention for an expected outcome would make a moment much different than say showing up with an intention of receiving whatever is present.
I do most of my shopping for non-food items in thrift shops. I’ve learned over the years that if I go into a second hand store with an expectation of finding something in particular—say a pair of jeans—I will most likely be disappointed. If I show up with a loose idea of the things I need/want and set the intention of staying open to what is present, I may find what I’m looking for—eventually I do—but I may also be surprised to find that perfect something that I didn’t even know I was looking for. If I am only focused on the desired outcome, a particular pair of jeans, I will only be looking for that item and may not see the lovely basket that is sturdy enough to hold kindling and wood that would fit perfectly next to the wood stove.
One of the fun things I like about thrift shopping is the fact that I don’t know what will be there. That I may not get what I want. That I may find some treasure that I didn’t even know existed. That is how each moment can be when my intention is to forget what I think I’m looking for and discover what is present.
Interestingly enough, what I’ve discovered is that I may be attracted to something, though don’t have a need for it, but when I bring it home, discover it is perfect for something I wasn’t aware of. Sometimes, I don’t discover this perfect fit until many months after, as happened when I shopped for furniture for my current home. I bought a large awkward bookcase at a moving sale, almost gave it away, and it ended up fitting perfectly in my foyer of the house I eventually settled in.
If my intention is to lovingly receive whatever each moment offers, the container and those present with me are affected by that. If my intention is to be fully present with each moment as it unfolds, each moment is affected by that intention.
As we create the container for the course, I ask the students to set certain intentions that help keep the space a safe, kind and compassionate container for all, as well as increase the potential for a transformational experience for each of us from the course. One is an intention of openness and possibility for a far grander outcome than they can imagine. To let go of any expected outcome to the course and discover as we go what presents itself.
Others include to arrive on time and stay for the full session; maintain confidentiality; set aside distractions; use direct communication; tell the truth as best we know it; honor our bodies; get vulnerable; trust our intuition; be open to having fun; keep our word and commitments to ourselves and others; let go of right and wrong or black and white thinking; stay current with the sessions and homework; be gentle with ourselves; keep the focus on ourselves and our process; be willing to take risks; and take responsibility for engagement with the material and the ultimate success of the course for us.
JoAnn Saccato, MA is a mindfulness teacher, author, life coach, educator, and consultant in Northern California. She is author of Companioning the Sacred Journey and the forthcoming Mindful and Intentional Living: A Path to Peace, Clarity and Freedom