A caution for everyone setting an intention word this year.

My intention word last year was Deepen.
Specifically, in my spiritual practice, I wanted to go deeper. Uncover more. Expand my capacity. Open my heart. Wider, wider, wider.

And I knew exactly what deepening would look like. International travel, pre-dawn meditations (every day of the year, of course), silent retreats and hundreds of hours in downward dog, were just some of my expectations.

Yup, that’s what deepening looks like. That’s how Deep people live. Yup.

So you can imagine my bummer when the end of the year rolled around and I had not checked off any of the items on my so-called ‘Deepening’ list.

My word had failed (apparently), so I had not deepened.

**Cue the sad trombone.

On the chance that I might be able to spare you that, I have a small caution sign for any intention word setting you might be doing:

When we set intention words, we often expect the word to unfold such monumental, wide-scale transformation, that we overlook or minimize the more subtle and intangible ways that it shows up.

What really matters more? That I meditate every day or that a few days ago, I didn’t hesitate when the lady in the hospital bed I was passing called out to me because she thought I was a nurse?

There was a time when I would have pretended that I did not hear her. Or I would have said “Sorry, I’m not a nurse” and walked on by. There was a time when I was far more selective with my kindness.

But in the Year of Deepen, the love that I have often withheld was freely and readily available for this woman, even when she was just a raspy voice behind a curtain.

That is what last year’s deepening looked like for me:

Deepening into love.
Deepening into humanity.

I’ll take that over a stack of mala beads any day.

So if you also started 2013 thinking about deepening your own spiritual practice, instead of strictly evaluating whether you’re now a bendier yogi, or you’ve been meditating regularly, try these questions on:

Are you kinder? Softer?

Are you jumping to conclusions a millisecond more slowly?

Are you forgiving a little more quickly?

Are you telling the truth about that subject you usually lie about?

If you answered yes to any one of those questions, darling, you’ve gone deep.

Sometimes, the miracle your soul wants you to pay attention to is not the week-long yoga retreat or losing the weight or meeting the guy.

Sometimes the miracle is in the little things, the subtleties that no one (but you) notices.


The miracle is deleting the email you just wrote and composing a new version that ends with ‘Love, Me’ instead.

The miracle is waking up one day and finally believing (REALLY believing) that even with your cellulite, you are damn sexy.

When you relax your attachment to how an intention word will show up in your life, all kinds of miracles become possible.

Intention words have surprises for you. Open up to them.

If intention words feel good to you, pick one. Plaster it all over your office. Set reminders in your phone to keep the word fresh and present for you throughout the year.

But don’t box yourself into believing that only one very narrow set of outcomes will ‘prove’ that your intention word did its job.

Be soft with it – I bet you’ll like it better that way. ; )