Occidental’s first Month of Intention is challenging students to set and commit to an intention for 30 days. The series of off-campus events surrounding mindfulness, purpose and gratitude was organized by Anthea Taeuber (junior), life coach and Occidental alumni Brandilyn Tebo ’15, Kundalini yoga instructor and filmmaker Kris Van Genderen and holistic dietitian Katie Reines.
The Month of Intention kicked off Sept. 11 with an early morning meditation and hike, which will be recurring every Monday throughout the event. Upcoming events include a spa outing Sept. 28 at The Langham Huntington and a yoga and vegan dinner party Oct. 3. All events are open to Occidental students and promote mental well-being while teaching participants how to form healthy habits and set goals that will reach beyond the month’s activities, according to Tauber.
The project was cultivated following a women’s empowerment retreat in Hawaii co-hosted by Van Genderen and Tebo. Throughout the course of the retreat, a small group of women, including Taeuber and Reines, focused on reinforcing healthy habits through mindful eating practices, meditation and goal setting, according to Tauber.
“When we got back we all felt like we were living life at this higher vibration because we really opened up and got to know ourselves better,” Taeuber said.
Van Genderen wants to push members of the community to become the fullest expression of themselves through intentional thought and practices.
“If there is something that has felt off, let’s examine that and decide to change it, and then hold ourselves accountable for a solid month to make decisions that feel better and more aligned,” Van Genderen said via email.
For Taeuber, mindfulness is important because of the ways it has impacted her personal life; as a practice, it has become integral to her daily routine. Taeuber also finds that writing, meditation and mindful changes to her diet have aided her on her path to a healthier lifestyle, both physically and mentally.
“Mindfulness has been a journey for me in terms of integrating it fully into my life,” Taeuber said. “Every day, from 4 a.m. to 5 a.m., I meditate. The difference I feel this semester compared to last is insane. My mind is so clear.”
Van Genderen manifests her mindfulness practice into smaller, intentional choices throughout her day to promote her personal mental stability and mood.
“Smiling at a red light in traffic, enjoying the process of cleaning dirty dishes in the sink. Mindfulness is the process of keeping our consciousness alive to our present experience and reality,” Van Genderen said.
According to Reines, she has found stability and positivity through mindfulness practices; instead of spending her time dwelling on negatives, she practices shifting her thinking to gratitude and positivity.
“Instead of having thoughts of insecurity, talking down about myself and my body and feeling jealous of others, I practice noticing those negative spirals and stopping them in their tracks. I remind myself how lucky I am, how special and unique I am,” Reines said via email.
At first, the group struggled with outreach and advertisements to involve community members. Tebo explained that she was unsure how the community would respond to an event of this kind.
“I was afraid that people would think I was weird or pushy or lame for asking them to participate,” Tebo said. “But when they understood that each person can pick his or her intention, and that we don’t have any particular agenda with this, they were quick to jump on board.”
Since then, Tebo and the other organizers have been working hard to get the word out and involve as many members of the community as possible. To stay up-to-date on the events, the Month of Intention has a Facebook page where students can find upcoming events and facilitate carpools to the off-campus events. Taeuber, Tebo, Van Genderen and Reines will all be updating their personal Instagram accounts with news, announcements and previews of the upcoming events. In addition, The Occidental Weekly will be featuring Taeuber’s journey throughout the month following her mindfulness and self-care practices in a series of diary-style posts.
“We’re going to hopefully turn it into ‘Life of Intention’ — the bigger goal. Maybe even Oxy could have their own intentional months and focus on specific intentions,” Taeuber said.