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Setting Intentions for Positive Change
By Ashleigh Beyer, Vapour BlogGirl
12/8/2014  
Vapour Blog

The Milky Way from Taos, courtesy @taosimagery

With the New Year just around the corner, it’s easy to put the cart before the horse when it comes to goals. At Vapour, we prefer the word “intention” to the word “resolution.” Resolution is defined as: “A formal expression of intention and a determination; a resolve.” Here in Taos we don’t get down with formal too much. Authority on learning, Annie Murphy Paul, defines intention as: “The purpose and awareness with which we approach the occasion.” That sounds more like it to me. Being present and aware of ‘What Is’ rather than making a decision to stick to.

Krysia Boinis, Vapour’s co-founder and CEO, lived a highly intentional year when she was healing from breast cancer. For a whole year, each month, she added one positive element to her life and eliminated one negative. One month, she cut refined sugar and added yoga, another month she was mindful about thinking negative things about herself and started meditating. Another month, she stopped using technology an hour before bed and started drinking 2 liters of water a day. Talking about that year fondly, Krysia says, “At the end of that year, I had 24 positive changes in my life.” 

While Krysia thrived during her year of 24 personal and professional advances, this kind of goal setting might overwhelm some of us. Jonathan Mead suggests being present with yourself and how your objectives might change. “What’s most important is to remember that I create intentions to be happy. If I cling too much, something needs to change.” A friend of mine has a new “theme” every year. And Mead agrees that having a theme can help you stay focused when things become challenging. 

When looking at the year ahead, first be present with the moment you’re in. Be with the changes that have happened in this last year. Some will be easy to define and positive, some will be easy to define but hard to look at. Perhaps you got a promotion or moved into a new home. Some of the adjustments will be less tangible; maybe you grew emotionally or deepened a special relationship. Be there for yourself, acknowledge growth, however small or large; take a moment to be still with your troubles and your triumphs. 

From your place of presence, on your walk or at your altar, make a list of intentions, not shoulds. Even start your sentences with “I desire to...” or “I want to...”

Innovative fitness coach Mindith Rahmat suggests asking yourself, “Are these focused, realistic, positive and healthy intentions?” You may have just a few or you may have many. 

More and more my desires have to do with how I want to feel. Sometimes it’s my intention “to have fun,” and often, I set the intention to “be relaxed and present.” This last year, on my birthday, I decided that my own personal New Year’s intention was to be more confident. When teaching about manifesting, miracles expert Gabrielle Bernstein says, “It’s the feeling more than the thought that creates the form.” 

As you spend time with yourself and your New Year's Intentions, remember that you’ll have each new day within your new year to set a whole new intention. Jack Kornfield says, “Each day we are born again, what we do today is what matters most.” 

How do you want to feel? What are your routines around setting intentions? Do you have any specific intentions for the next year you want to share with us? We’re all ears, or eyes, as it were.

—ASHLEIGH BEYER




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Categories: Practice
Happy Thanks, Happy Giving
By Ashleigh Beyer, Vapour BlogGirl
11/25/2013  
Vapour Blog

The magic sky of Taos, courtesy @taosimagery

My favorite way of learning is through feeling, which is how I learned about the practice of gratitude. One night, I went to a class on gratitude, and after discussing research findings, the teacher had us pair up with a partner for an exercise. First, Partner A complained to Partner B for five minutes, and then Partner B did the same. After a totally un-fun 10 minutes, the teacher stopped us to notice the general feel of the room, which was, yep, bleak. Then he had Partner A talk for five minutes about what they were thankful for, then ditto for Partner B. Again, he had us notice the feeling in the room and this time, the place felt great; as Ocean Robbins says “positive vibes aren’t just for hippies.”

Speaking of hippies, I’m pretty sure I live in a social network and real life bubble of them. My friends and I look on the bright side and we don’t care if it’s nerdy. Almost everyone I know practices yoga or meditation and being a healthy and good person is on the top of our to-do lists. My homies and I talk about gratitude often, and we do our best to practice it too, with good cause.

Research shows that practicing gratitude reduces nervousness and stress, it increases a sense of well-being, generosity and reciprocity, it engenders altruistic love and fosters happiness.

Dr. Robert Emmons of U.C. Davis is an expert on gratitude. Dr. Emmons and his colleague Michael McCullough of the University of Miami did a study involving three groups of participants. The first group kept weekly journals highlighting five things they were grateful for about the past week. The second group kept a journal listing five things that inconvenienced them during the week. The third group just reported on the events of their lives, not focusing on positive or negative. After 10 weeks, the researchers disclosed that the gratitude seeking participants were 25% happier than their friends in the other groups and they: “slept better, exercised more, had an increase in positive emotions, had more rhythmic heartbeats, progressed towards personal goals more quickly and helped others more often.”

But why do you suppose gratitude has such a positive impact? Gratitude is a major component of my work as a B.E.S.T. practitioner. In B.E.S.T., we believe that if we can’t be grateful for the message that our body is giving us, or for the difficult situation we might find ourselves in, then we can’t move past it. Physiologically speaking, not being able to move past it means not healing.

There’s no better time to start this practice than now, during this month of Thanksgiving. As poet Edwin Arlington Robinson says, “There are two kinds of gratitude: the sudden kind we feel for what we receive, and the larger kind we feel for what we give.” Happy thanks and happy giving.

There are many ways to practice gratitude and there are so many reasons to be thankful. Author and teacher Angeles Arrien suggests these five ways: 
1. Start a gratitude journal
2. Call, visit or send notes to those you are grateful for 
3. Anticipate the unexpected blessings that are already on their way 
4. Hold a monthly gratitude circle 
5. Remember times of deep challenge or hardship and be grateful to have moved beyond those afflictions

—ASHLEIGH BEYER




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Categories: Practice
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