Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bhavana

My bhavana for tonight: watch the Bulls and work on my to-be-felted, Malabrigo-beautiful mittens.

A bhavana is an intention or a goal. Let me state for the record that I mentally fuss when I'm told, in yoga class, to "set an intention." I'm standing there, breathing, trying to focus my mind for more than a millisecond on one thought, relaxing my stance and my muscles and maybe even my brain, and then I'm asked to figure out what my intention is? And what does it mean to "set" that intention?

Maybe it's a language problem. Instead of intention or goal, how about wish, or hope, or plan? And the teacher at the workshop that I attended today - on bhavana - kept drilling this into us. You need to be concrete. You need to be specific. You need to cast the goal in positive terms, what he called remembering into the future. Not "I'll be sorry if I don't have ice cream after dinner tonight," but "I enjoyed the ice cream that I had for desert." Not "I want to travel the world," but "I plan to celebrate my 51st birthday with seven best friends in Paris."

He also talked me down from The Secret ledge. I made a deal with my hairdresser that, if she stopped shopping at Wal-mart, that I would read The Secret. And I tried. I really did. I listened to half of a disc of the Books on CD version, with the author melodiously leading her listeners through the magic of positive thinking. But honestly, I gave up. As much as I believe in the wonders of a positive attitude and the importance of problem-solving your way out of almost any dilemna, I fall squarely in the camp of believing that there are random forces, and there is evil in the world. And no matter how much you wish for something, it may not happen. Life is not fair, as the poster in my daughter's fifth-grade classroom said.

What I did like about this workshop is that the teacher did not promise a one-to-one correspondence of intention to result. Yoga is about how you feel, and a bhavana is attained if you create more happiness and clarity in your life. Because you are more satisfied, more content, more clear about what is working and not working in your behavior and your relationships and your work.

I came home, told my husband about the workshop, then gathered my courage to tell him that I'd heard about a scuba class starting tomorrow, and that I was hoping that we both could go. Specific. Positive. Concrete. And he said that he thought it was a good idea. My bhavana for tomorrow: learn to scuba dive.

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