Intention Changes Motion and Ownership

emily lola tan intentional living

You know how it takes time to warm up a conversation sometimes, especially when the topics are heavy?

There’s mindfulness in the words we choose, the tone we use, our body language congruent with our intention and even giving unplanned space where necessary. Being aware that we already know how to do this intuitively can help us applying these skills to other aspects of life.

When we know our intentions, the perception of effort changes. The term “effortless” becomes subjective depending on the individual.

Whether it’s warming up the musculoskeletal system or overcoming the psychological barriers, it takes 2 things to practice this:

  1. Slow down
  2. Listen


What is the “main event” that we are preparing for?

Are we mindful of the movement selected as preparation?

How do we feel right now?

Does the body feel as good as “the other day”?

If it feels worse, might it need more care, more time today even though we’re doing the exact same prep routine?

What do we need today and how can we address that need?

Moving from structured labels can feel restricting sometimes

My thoughts were not “I have to move like a yogi” or “I have to move like an animal flow-er” , “Am I doing this right?” , “Do I look stupid?”

I am moving the way I needed to that day, I am not moving the same way someone else moves in THEIR bodies. Maybe it looks effortless to some eyes but it certainly wasn’t effortless to me. Then again, where we perceive effort here would differ. While some predict the most effort would stem from lack of flexibility, my effort was actually in staying connected to my breath throughout the sequence. Looks can be deceiving varied through the eyes of the looker.

This could probably be applied to life (I love observing analogies) and there’s plenty to apply within the scope of physical wellbeing.

Simply put, movement preparation selection used for kickboxing are not going to be the same for powerlifting.

FUN? Yes, it needs to be fun, however fun looks like to you.

I’m a sucker for routine YET I get bored when I don’t feel challenged.  Doing the same warm up and movement prep routine for every single physical activity is absolutely not my jam.  I’d find myself checking out even before my heart rate warms up, when I really want to be checking in.

This took reflection to understand what works for me – and that is, I need to be engaged in whatever it is I am doing, and which “trick” I can use for the day. These “tricks” can be like themes but largely, they are skills.

Skills of nurturing our curious nature, broadening perspectives, training mental agility, practicing mind & body connection and accessing playfulness.

Perhaps I do the exact same movement sequence 5 days a week but my “main event” are all different (3x heavy lifting and 2x Brazilian jiu-jitsu).  During the heavy lifting days, I move with the task of slowly increasing load using tempo and range of motion.  During BJJ days, I move with the task of fluidity and breath.  

Intention changes the motion, just as it changes those conversations we need to warm up for.

We’re learning we can shape our brains in more adaptive and beneficial ways by cultivating healthy habits of mind…When given a challenging situation your brain hasn’t encountered before, it can reorganise and restructure to respond to that situation. The more often your brain is exposed to that new challenge – like learning a musical instrument, for instance – the more it reorganises and makes that path more established…Our brains are constantly being shaped wittingly or unwittingly – most of the time unwittingly….We’re raising the possibility to intentionally training our brains to improve well-being.


 (Disclaimer: I am NOT saying “forget experts”! I work with them and learn from them, they are highly valuable to me. I’m saying NOT to dump the responsibility for ourselves on someone else just because they are the experts. We have to take ownership over our own growth, which means actually seeing an expert for some folks)

We become de-conditioned, muscles atrophied.

Fortunately, if that is the case, these “muscles” can be conditioned again.

Published by Emily Lola Tan

I've been told that I'm tiny but tough, so I must have gotten SOME things right. On the inside, I feel like a mushy marshmellow who's a hopeless romantic and find corny cute. Writing "About Me" sections had evolved in the past x years of online profiles, currently, it sits at me still hungry for enlightening experiences and insightful traveling, particularly with human connections. My story at full length on the "About" page :) Thank you for poking around!

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