Sometime last week, I was going around telling friends I needed a detox and I started what was supposedly a 10-day program called the Master Cleanse. I have done this successfully a few years ago as a new vegan, when a fellow vegan told me that the meat we ate years ago are still stuck in our colons. Disgusted by the idea, I finished the cleanse at that time with much ease. This time around, though, I quit. After just one day, I threw in the towel for Master Cleanse.
You see, even though I have been telling everyone that I was doing a detox because of consuming too much processed food, that is not completely true. My true motivations- my honest intentions- for wanting to do it was because I was feeling insecure with how I look lately. My skin has been breaking out and I have been gaining weight. In other words, I wanted to do it for vanity's sake.
I quit after one day when I caught myself being inconsistent with my beliefs. I realized that as a yoga teacher, I go to class teaching what I truly believe in, that this body is just a vehicle, that images are merely images and no more than that, that we do not have to look a certain way or earn a certain amount of money or have a certain relationship to be happy. I believe with all of my heart for those to be true, and yet I fell victim to my own insecurity and set out intentions that were in contradiction to my ideals and beliefs. How can I not practice what I preach? And that is why I stopped.
The thing with intentions is that it is very personal. Actions themselves are empty. Actions are public while intentions are private. We can tell the world one thing while secretly thinking something completely different. But because intentions are personal, we find that we can lie to the whole world but we cannot lie to ourselves.
The intentions we set are extremely important. It spells the difference between staying stuck and freeing ourselves. Had I continued to lie to everyone about my intentions, I would likely address my vanity and lose some weight. What then? I would reinforce in myself the habit of pursuing external "goals" as a way to achieve some superficial pretense of happiness. I would be ridden with guilt when I promote positive body image when I myself have such a negative attitude about my own. My actions will not match my beliefs. My intentions would be a complete sham. So, no.
When we examine our intentions and do the difficult work of being honest, it may not make us look perfect. It may not necessarily look good to the rest of the world, but we free ourselves from the friction of our inconsistencies and inauthenticity. We liberate ourselves from a cycle of self-inflicted suffering. We give ourselves a shot at true happiness.
Let us choose our intentions well- for happiness, for freedom, for liberation.