Spiritual Warm-up: Setting Intentions

(Part 2 of 3)

Last month’s musings talked about the importance of warm-ups – whether for sports, music, oratory, or worship. And I tried to make the case that we ought to take equally seriously warm-ups for the most important activity of the day – being the human being we aspire to be. Most of us are committed to dental care each morning. What are we prepared to do as heart, mind, and soul care as we get ready to interact with friends, with co-workers, with the community? What best serves us will depend on our goals, so we need to be clear about our aspirations. Who exactly do we aspire to be? What are the qualities we most want to prioritize and nurture? This is personal even if it isn’t unique or original. Like a mission statement, only for us as individuals.

Let me illustrate what I mean by offering a summary of my own goals. Yours will differ, yet I encourage you to be explicit about them and share them with others. It helps us stay accountable. Please hold me accountable. Here is my current, evolving, incomplete list:

I aspire to let kindness be at the core of every interaction. I want compassion to guide me, translating empathy into caring action. I wish for generosity to come easily and readily allowing me to share what I have with joy. I hope to rejoice in the good fortunes of others even when it affects my own fortunes. I want to be at ease and remain non-anxious, so I can respond intentionally, non-defensively, and help de-escalate spirals of violence.

I intend to leave places or situations in a better state than when I first encountered them. I aim to stay curious about friends and strangers alike, so I can see the world from more than my own perspective. When someone is doing something that is hurting me, I aspire to reframe as: How must the other person be suffering to do such a thing and how can I help?

I want gratitude to be at the center of my heart as I notice and appreciate the unearned gifts that make my life possible and delightful. I hope to allow space for awe and wonder, and various forms of creativity. I strive to not take myself too seriously. I seek to maintain a healthy body to be a source of strength for my other aspirations.  I seek to maintain a healthy body to be a source of strength for my other aspirations. And finally, I wish to be happy and content.

Clearly, these are aspirations, just like the vows in a marriage or the covenant of a faith community. I know I will never fully embody these aspirations. Yet I also know from experience that my chances to be and act in a way that reflect these goals are noticeably greater the more I engage in practices designed to develop the qualities I listed.

So what can that heart, mind, and soul care look like in practice? It appears, I will need to add Part 3 of 2 to complete my thoughts. 🙂 Thank you for listening as I wrestle with my own attempts to bridge the gap between who I am and who I aspire to be. To be continued in February.