This Spring, I am approaching my five year anniversary as a Speech Language Pathologist. I am halfway through my yoga teacher training. And I continue to learn and refine my understanding of holistic health coaching as it applies to my clients and myself every day I live it. As I journey onward with all these different endeavors, in what appears at first glance to be very different directions, a question arises over and over again in my own mind. What does this all have in common. Where are the common threads? How are all of my seemingly varied paths connected? And when I stay quiet, when I allow the bigger picture to come into focus, I get many beautiful answers to that question. One of the precious common threads in these disciplines is the crucial and sacred act of setting intentions, goals, or resolutions.
Setting goals in my speech pathology practice teaches me that the more clear we are, the better. Speech Pathologists and other rehabilitation clinicians write "measurable and functional goals" for their patients in order to create guideposts for recovery. So lets break that down. Measurable, as in: the achievements should be quantitative. Instead of saying "the patient will improve his ability to speak." We say, he "will verbally express phrases in everyday life situations in 4 out of 5 opportunities." This way the patient and the clinician can really measure when these goals are met, and when it's time to raise the bar. And these goals should be functional, or useful in real life. So, instead of working with an individual to be able to "remember a list of 5 words" we might work to "remember new information from social conversations." So the gains show up in the person's ability to get through life, not just on test scores.
Working with intentions in my health coaching practice teaches me that the road may not be straight and narrow. When I speak with my clients, or when I call my own health coach, we begin the session by setting an intention. This doesn't mean that we can only talk about the one or two things that were set as intentions, but when the conversation takes its organic route we can look back and see how something seemingly tangential is actually really related to the whole picture. So if a client sets and intention to get more organized with meal planning, and the conversation leads to a discussion of feelings of disorganization at work or home, we can begin to see the patterns and thus the answers and action steps to feel better.
My yoga practice teaches me that the truest resolution comes from within. In the practice of Yoga Nidra (a deep sleep like meditation) we are asked to set a sankalpa, a resolution that we wish to actualize in our life. During a powerful guided meditation that I practice with my fellow teachers in training, we are first brought to a deeply relaxed state, and only then are we invited to set our intention. For me, the experience is more like discovering an intention that was there all along, less like "thinking" of something. When I quiet my mind and give voice to my deepest parts, I often find a simple but powerful message.
Spring, a season of rebirth and renewal, is the perfect time to plant a seed, create a goal, set an intention, or discover a sankalpa. And like a seed, an intention should be tended to gently and daily. What are your intentions for the coming months or year. How can you be clear, open to the twists and turns it may take to get there, and listen to your deepest voice to discover them?