We talk about intention in yoga, about how doing a pose is not as important as the intention to do it, and how intention can go a long way toward improving the practice of yoga. And it is indeed a powerful thing. When I focus my intention on a pose, I do in fact achieve greater balance, experience a deeper twist, feel longer and taller. It works.
And it works in other areas of my life too.
Sometimes I get emails that upset me. Emails that have to do with insisting on keeping the Christ in Christmas, or asserting that foreigners are taking away Canadian jobs, or a myriad of other subjects that, through a thin veil of comraderie, essentially serve to push a belief as fact and tear down the opposition. I get upset because Why Can't We All Just Get Along??!, and because someone out there thinks that this is a message that I might want to receive and might agree with.
I don't believe in God, but I celebrate Christmas because why not celebrate? It's pure joy and happiness, if you let it just be, without worrying about who started it and who can celebrate it and what to call it. My husband cleared the whole Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays conundrum up for me quite nicely. A couple of years ago he said to me, without any prior discussion of "intention": "My intention is to wish someone well. So if I know that they will be offended by my saying 'Merry Christmas', then I'll just say 'Happy Holidays', because I'm not trying to offend anyone, I'm just trying to be nice."
So what is your intention during the holidays? To spread the Word of God and convince people to believe in Christ and Christmas? That's fine with me. Go to it. And I wish you a Merry Christmas. Is it to put a smile on the face of friends and strangers, regardless of their faith? Then Happy Holidays may be a better choice, or you may want to go one better and determine which holiday each person you meet observes before offering your greeting. Also great, if you have the time. Either way, all I want for Christmas this year is not to get another one of those emails, if you don't mind.
Also, "foreigners". Here's my foreign policy: I like variety. In my diet, in my wardrobe, and in my people. But more than that, I hate hate hate the idea of someone being treated badly or made to feel badly because of circumstances they can't control. I'm Canadian, that's where I was born. I love Canada. And I like to travel. And I like the idea of finding a country that suits me and where I might want to live for a while, and I don't like the idea of being made to feel badly in that country because I'm different and somehow not as good as the people who live there. Now imagine if the country where I was born is dangerous and scary and I don't feel safe there. Being rejected from this great new place would be infinitely worse. And I don't like that. It makes me feel bad. So please, no more of the "pro-Canadian" (read: anti-not-Canadian) emails either. Please. And thank you.
Now, going back to intention, I know that the people who send me these emails don't intend to upset me. They just think that they are commiserating with like-minded people, and I don't much like confrontation or to in turn offend someone by telling them that their messages are not welcome. So generally I just delete and move on. But it nags at me. It nags at me because I feel that by failing to respond I am condoning and perpetuating the message.
I had an orientation leader in my first year of University who responded to someone telling a racist joke with "Not in my house". We were newbies and we looked up to him and the guy who told the joke apologized and that was the end of it. I looked up to my orientation leader even more after that, because he simply would not tolerate having someone potentially offend someone that belonged to his "family", and he wasn't afraid to stand up and say so. I've never had that kind of gumption (yes, gumption), but I admire it.
I'm not perfect...I can be a gossip and I hate it and I try continually to curb the tendency...but I think it's important to speak up when you're uncomfortable with something, and I'm uncomfortable. Of course, not everyone who sends me these emails reads my blog, so perhaps this isn't the most effective tactic, but it's a step in the right direction.
In short, I like everyone and I'm just trying to be happy and be nice to people. If you've got something to say to/send me that doesn't really align with that, then I would be much happier if you didn't say/send it, and instead think of something lovely to say. Like "Hope you're having a good day!", or "You are even more gorgeous than I remember!" That kind of thing is always welcome.