Good Intentions

ART-OF-DRAWINGIt’s always good to take stock from time to time, and think about what you might like to release, and what you’d like to cultivate. Sometimes we weigh ourselves down carrying around really old stuff; ideas we have that don’t fit anymore, stories about ourselves or other people that used to be true, limiting beliefs about who we are and what we can or cannot do to effect change in our lives. You can pile a whole bunch of that on top of your hope, your potential, your dreams and your possibilities; people do it all the time and keep themselves stuck, but that’s not a fun place to be.

It’s possible you developed coping mechanisms at some point that you needed at the time, but maybe you don’t need them now, maybe you’re safe but still on the run. You could be stoking a fire it would be better to extinguish, keeping yourself angry, because the alternative is to allow yourself to be vulnerable, and that seems like a reckless idea. You can fight it all you like, and the reality will still remain that you are vulnerable, that’s an inherent part of this experience of being human. There are certain things in life that will break your heart wide open, that will never fall into the category of, “thank you for that experience”; there are losses you’ll carry like scars on your heart that mark the places where you learned you were not and are not in control of circumstances. Devastating heartbreaks may shape you, but they don’t have to define you, or the amount of joy that’s possible in your future.

You can only be where you are. You move through your healing process in your own way, and in your own time. The best thing is to face reality as it is; that’s hugely liberating. Life may not unfold like the picture you have in your head of “how things should be”; in fact, it probably won’t. The more you resist, the more you suffer, and a large part of our suffering comes from our own thoughts. (Not all of it.) You can’t control what other people will want or do or say. You can’t make another person be something they aren’t, or want something they do not want. You can’t control what life will put in your path, but you do have the power to choose the way you respond to what it is you’re given. You can work on how you show up, how you proceed.

The mind is a funny thing; it’s obsessive and redundant and very fond of time-travel. It loves to head into the past and cling to those places where things went wrong, or where they were right, but aren’t any longer, or race into the future and imagine how things could go wrong. So we have waves of depression about the past, and waves of anxiety about the future. Who wants to swim in that ocean? Those are waters with relentless currents, and sharp rocks that scrape open those old wounds. If you can pick your mind up and bring it back to the Sea of Now, you’ll find it’s sunny and calm with a beautiful breeze, and that you can see all the way down to the smooth ocean floor. You can actually chill out. Float on your back and feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Take a deep breath full of gratitude. That feels so much better than treading water, going under, feeling the sting of salt in your eyes. You don’t have to stay in the ocean where you swim with the sharks.

You can work on where you place your attention. Sad stories about your past don’t serve your future, or your now. It’s painful enough that these things happened. You don’t want to feed those feelings forever so that there’s no hope for peace. Of course you mourn and you grieve when you’re suffering huge losses, but after you’ve allowed yourself to feel all your feelings and to take whatever time you need to feel like you can allow for the possibility of joy again, then it’s useful to direct your energy, to choose one thought over another. Whatever you feed will grow and strengthen. You are free to water the plant of life sucks, and I suck and people suck and you can’t trust anyone. Or you can water the plant of life is gorgeous even though it breaks your heart sometimes. Some people are damaged and have a hard time loving, but other people are so open and warm and kind it makes your eyes well up and your heart expand. There’s love in this world that is so profound it takes your breath away and the only words you have are, “thank you” and “yes”, the only feelings you have are relief and gratitude. I’d really water that plant, and let the other one starve to death. It’s roots are shot, anyway. The soil they grew in has turned to dust, so nothing new can blossom on those branches.

If you’re inclined, you might make a list of things you don’t want to feed anymore. Habits that undermine you, relationships that drain you and rob you of your power. Anything that makes you feel the life-force is being sucked out of you, thoughts that weaken you, old stories that aren’t serving you. Put all that stuff in a glass bowl or find a fireplace and burn it, and then go buy a plant that requires the right amount of light and water for your particular environment. Grab a marker, and on the ceramic planter, write down the words of things you want to feed. Ideas that strengthen you. People that see you and love you and understand you. Things that inspire you. Feelings you want to cultivate. Put it somewhere prominent, so you can never start the day without taking it in. Setting intentions once a year is fine, but if you really want to see a shift, you have to align yourself with those intentions every day. Feed that, and see what happens.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

7 thoughts on “Good Intentions”

  1. Dear Ally,

    I am new to your blog but would like to thank you for your amazing insight into human behaviour, feelings and life’s pains.
    I am recently heartbroken and have found Christmas, New Year and a recent Birthday very difficult to say the least.
    You are so spot on about the need to feel these awful feelings in order to move on and feel the joy and amazing value of being alive. I cried as i read your Good Intentions piece, it feels so true and on the mark and although i am sobbing it helps to hear such wise words in my journey to get through my heartbreak.
    I remind myself that i allowed myself to be vulnerable in a relationship and although it didnt work out at least i gave it a good crack and do not have any regrets.
    I also feel grateful that i have the opportunity to take life risks because i am alive, healthy and lucky. I remind myself of this blessing often because i had a close friend who passed away and who was not afforded this luxury by living.
    Thank you for taking all the feelings and thoughts that have been bouncing around my head for the last few weeks and put them into profound words of wisdom, hope and inspiration for me.

    1. Oh, Dee. It’s SO hard when heartbreak falls around the holidays. And I’m sorry you’ve been hurt, but as you say, there’s beauty in having opened yourself that way. It takes courage to do that, and trust and hope, and the desire for connection. All beautiful. That doesn’t make it easier when you’re hurting, but it’s good to know you’re capable of love like that. I hope 2014 is a great year for you. And I wish you healing and support and kindness and hugs and good surprises. Sending love, Ally

  2. Thank you Ally, 🙂 I love the New Years Resolution idea. I bought a plant today. 🙂 I have a question about your on line classes…which classes do you stream live? Thank you for shining your bright light. 🙂

    1. Hey! You got an “Intention Plant”!? Awesome. And yes, I’ve been teaching yoga for almost 20 years which seems impossible, but there you have it. I incorporate all these ideas as I’m teaching. Just go to
      and fill in your info. Where it says “coupon code”, use Ally10. You’ll have ten free days to do as much yoga as you like. If you love the site and do nothing, it will automatically roll into a recurring $15/month for unlimited yoga. Or you can cancel before the 10nth day for no charge at all. If you need help picking classes, let me know! Sending love, and wishes for an awesome 2014. Water that plant 😉

      1. Good Morning Ally, 🙂 Thank you for your response and THANK YOU for the 10 day offer…What a great gift!!!!! I will dive in and enjoy all you have to offer. HAPPY DAY to You. 🙂

  3. Just another question…Ally, where does your on line community chat, find accountability, be a class? 🙂 Thanks

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