Intention as a Seed for Action

It takes action to make meaningful change in our lives. And in order to make change in the direction we’d prefer, we have to water the seeds of the actions we want to practice. It’s been said that without a cause there is no result. But what is the cause of action? What is the seed of action?

Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying, “Thought is the seed of action.”

For some of us, if any and every thought leads to the seed of and action from that thought, it could be an unfortunate thing! I have had thought seeds I surely wouldn’t want to water and have them grow up into being real actions. You probably have too. I would venture to say we all have.

We have lots of thoughts of many kinds. In fact, our minds are continuously producing them without any help from us. We learn that well when we sit to meditate. It can feel like an avalanche of thoughts was unleashed as soon as we settled in. We have unintentional thoughts, but we can also direct our thoughts intentionally.

What is key is to recognize that actions that come from unintentional thoughts don’t always work out so well, unless we’ve cultivated really good habits of thought. Actions that come from intentional thoughts tend to be the kinds of actions that align more with our preferences and even our values.

What’s the use of intention without action? Or action without clear intention? Action without intention is like a ship without a caption. It’ll just be luck if it makes it to a safe harbor. Intention without action is a good first step, but doesn’t get us too far nor does it make an impact in our lives or the lives of others.

You may have heard the riddle that if there are three birds sitting on a fence and one decides to fly away, how many are left? Most people seem to quickly answer that there’s two birds left. But does just deciding to fly away make it happen? Just like deciding to get out and exercise more, or just deciding to be less reactive with a person you have difficulty with? It’s a good riddle for illustrating the fact that just deciding, or just setting an intention doesn’t insure follow through. It’s just a seed, and it may be a seed for something very beneficial. But a seed needs the right conditions and care to grow. And it needs to be watered regularly. Intention is surely a first step and a key factor. But action is where the rubber meets the road.

Intentions are also a wonderful and very useful way to check in on our actions. We can look back on our earlier intention and see how we’re doing, and see if we need a gentle course correction, or we could put some energy into renewing our intention. For example, when you first learned about mindfulness or the Mindful Life Program, did you have an intention for some kind of change? Were you looking to cultivate certain qualities, make a shift in how you live, or grow in some particular area? Were you looking to suffer a little less from an unruly and busy mind, or respond to challenges in your life in a healthier way? How can you water these intentions and have them lead to wise action and meaningful change?

Another useful way to look at intentions is with the lens of our values. Are our intentions aligned with our values? Or have we set some intentions to do some things or achieve some things that really, after some thoughtful reflection, don’t align when we really think about what a meaningful life is to us.

At the Mindful Life Program, we say often that a meaningful life is lived with attention and intention. Tied together with intention is attention. If we don’t cultivate attention, good luck staying focused on your intention, remembering it, and calling it to mind. Just as intention without action doesn’t get us far, having an intention, but not being able to attend to it, call it to mind, have the presence of mind to act on it also does not get us too far. One of the best ways to cultivate attention is shamatha or mindfulness of breath meditation, as it gives us practice in creating attentional balance and the ability to choose one thought over another.

I invite you to call to mind the aspirations, qualities or habits that you would like to develop in your life and choose one that you can take action on today. What action will plant a seed for that today? Set the intention to do what it takes to plant that seed today. Remember that while seeds are small, with good and regular care and conditions, they can become mighty. How can you take steps to nurture that seed today and over time?

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
Mahatma Gandhi

© 2016 Mindful Life Program Inc

Mindfulness Presentations for Mental Health Professionals, Veterinarians and More – February, 2016

We were delighted when cofounder John Bruna was selected to present at the annual conference for the Florida Mental Health Counselors Association. The conference took place earlier this month, and his presentation, The Myths and Benefits of Mindfulness in a Therapeutic Setting: An Integrated Approach, was extremely well received. Many of those in attendance have now joined our Mindful Life Community and John is still receiving requests for further collaboration.

In March, Dr. Derralyn Rennix, DVM & Brad LaRoche, both Mindful Life Program Certified Teachers, will be sharing the lessons from MLP with veterinarians at a conference held at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Caregivers suffer from a high level of emotional stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue which can lead to serious negative affects on health, career, and ability to care for others. Veterinarians and students of veterinary medicine are not immune to these negative effects and may even be at increased risk. Mindfulness is one technique that has proven benefits to promote self-care and methods to deal with stress and compassion fatigue. Derralyn and Brad will offer a presentation to allow participants to explore how mindfulness can help them become better, more resilient veterinarians and place them on a path towards a meaningful life. More info can be found here

More custom presentations are on the calendar, with audiences ranging from business executives to educators and the recovery community. If you are interested in a presentation for a group or specific audience, we’re happy to talk with you. Feel free to contact us.

Reviews for The Wisdom of a Meaningful Life: The Essence of Mindfulness – February, 2016

John’s new book, The Wisdom of a Meaningful Life: The Essence of Mindfulness, is due to be released this summer and we are already receiving wonderful reviews! Here are just a couple:

“In his timely and insightful book The Wisdom of a Meaningful Life: The Essence of Mindfulness John Bruna sheds clear light on the difference between hedonic pleasure and genuine well-being. While Albert Einstein compares the pursuit of the former to the ambitions of a pig, the Dalai Lama suggests that the cultivation of the latter is the very meaning of life itself. On this basis, the author brings a rich ethical and transformative context to mindfulness meditation, couching it within the framework of a meaningful worldview, set of values, and way of life. I highly recommend this book.”  – B. Alan Wallace, Buddhist teacher, scholar, Director of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies, author of The Attention Revolution, and Mind in the Balance.

“This book is an absolute treasure and a life changer. John Bruna has a gift for taking potentially complex and weighty material and presenting it in a manner that is both profound and engaging. The Wisdom of a Meaningful Life is so clear and crisp and fun to read that it is difficult to put down. At the same time, as a therapist who is very familiar with the topic, I found myself grasping it in new ways and at a deeper level than ever before. I will be recommending this book to friends, clients and colleagues. It holds timeless truths and the wisdom of an author who has true range and embodies the compassion he describes.”  – Melissa Mose, MA, LMFT, Calabasas Counseling Center

To learn more about the book, visit

Mindfulness for Teachers Takes New Steps Forward  – February, 2016

( Photo: The Viewbank College teachers getting in the right frame of mind.)

While we’ve been offering various programs and presentations for teachers in the past and in a variety of locations, both our Colorado and Melbourne locations have begun providing professional development programs for teachers. In Melbourne, the second group of teachers from Viewbank College, a secondary level college are working with cofounder Mark Molony in the MLP Foundations course curriculum. The group will explore and practice the foundations of mindfulness practices and how they can be used to support themselves, their colleagues and their students.

In Colorado, cofounder John Bruna has been teaching professional development courses for the Roaring Fork RE1 School District since the fall of 2015 and the response has been very positive.

In addition, more teachers are taking advantage of the daily support offered through the Mindful Life Community. In fact, we are very excited that the staff at two different public schools have chosen MLC as a way to support all their teachers and administrators and have signed them all up for year long memberships. We are currently expanding the Mindful Life Community resources for members, and soon there will be resources specifically designed for educators. If you are an educator and would like to learn more about the support of the Mindful Life Community, please see and feel free to contact us about group rates.

Mindfulness in Recovery

New Mindfulness in Recovery Program Launched – February, 2016

We are very excited to launch our new Mindfulness in Recovery program!  This has been a vision of our co-founder, John Bruna, for many years and it has come to fruition. Drawing upon his 31 years in recovery, experience as a substance abuse counselor, educator, Buddhist monastic, and mindfulness teacher, we have integrated the tools and resources of our mindfulness community with specific meditations and resources for people in recovery.

We are already working on our vision to grow our Mindfulness in Recovery component to be integrated into treatment programs, aftercare, and continued support. Soon, we’ll be offering a workbook and encourage weekly support groups in communities. Currently we have our first weekly group that meets on Thursday evenings at our center in Carbondale.

The Mindfulness in Recovery group is an inclusive recovery support program, open to anyone with a sincere desire for recovery. Our goal is to provide daily mindfulness activities and support that enhance our members current 12 Step program and to provide mindfulness tools and resources for those not in 12 Step programs. This is part of our Mindful Life Community. Members join the Community, receiving all of the members’ resources, and have access additionally to meditations and support materials specific to recovery. So far the results have been wonderful. Members with years of recovery have found new inspiration and a burst of inner growth.