Today is a special day in Ireland. It is St. Brigid’s Day or Brigid’s Day, or if you go back even further it is Imbolc. And one of the overriding themes of this is that it is the first day of Spring.
I can remember when I first moved to Ireland and heard and experienced February 1st as the first day of Spring. I was dumbfounded. It was cold and wet and appeared no different to the days of Winter that came before it. It seemed ridiculous.
Still, people all around me showed me all of the subtle signs (soft green shoots of daffodils, full bloom snowdrops, days getting longer) while also explaining the cultural celebration of St. Brigid’s eve/ day. Or, a day where one sweeps the home and the hearth clean while weaving their intentions for the coming year into Brigid’s crosses- crosses made from rushes found in the fields and weaved into what has been called a sun wheel or sun cross.
So this morning, after I dropped the kids to school, I took to the fields to find my rushes, so that I can set my intentions and weave my cross this evening, as I light the first fire on my swept hearth.
All of this activity got me thinking of a conversation that I had with my friend and colleague Alan. Alan and I had been teaching this weekend at Samye Ling on the Level 1 Mindfulness: Being Present course. (For more information, click here)
One of the participants asked us about the importance of setting an intention at the beginning of each practice. In our own words, we shared how setting an intention has been an integral part of our practice- whether that intention be to simply be mindful or to practice noticing our distractions or even something more personal like an intention to ease an anxiety that has been plaguing the mind. We do not always arrive at our intended destination (I.E. notice those distractions or ease that anxiety); however, our intention plants a seed and helps create the conditions for a moving towards- and maybe even one day, full fruition.
Setting a intention and visiting our motivation is something we explore quite thoroughly throughout the whole of our Level 1 training, and indeed, throughout all of our trainings. Not only can setting an intention be helpful in our meditation practice, but it can be helpful in our day- to- day living. For instance, we might like to start our day with setting an intention to be more compassionate/mindful/helpful for the day; or start each season with an intention for the coming months. One thing to remember is not to get too caught up on whether we see the fruition of this intention, maybe we can just rest in the reassurance that these intentions are planting seeds and creating the conditions for the day to come.
So, on this first day of Spring, what are your own intentions? Perhaps, this week’s challenge can be to set aside some time for quiet reflection on what are your intentions for the coming year. What seeds will you plant? Hopefully, in time we might be able to reap the rewards of that harvest!
We have many Level 1: Being Present courses starting in Glasgow, Samye Ling, Birmingham, Cardiff, London and Edinburgh- we even have an online version starting in March! Make sure to check them out here
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