"SET YOUR INTENTION"
It's a phrase that's at the tip of the tongue in Yoga and meditation settings, but the concept has quickly become more mainstream than ever - and for good reason.
While the motivating force behind the word is easy enough to understand, the desired outcome feels a bit far-fetched. What gives intentions power, and how do we get the most out of them?
You bring forth your future through your thoughts, actions, feelings, beliefs, values, goals and dreams. However, you do this regardless of the level of your conscious awareness. Your present moment awareness coupled with the future that you create is a deeper reflection of your subconscious programming. Read on for insight on how intention setting can support meaningful and impactful actions.
WHAT IS AN INTENTION An intention ignites every action, whether or not we are conscious of it is another story.
Renowned spiritual leader, Deepak Chopra says, "Everything that happens in the universe begins with intention ... The sages of India observed thousands of years ago that our destiny is ultimately shaped by our deepest intentions and desires. The classic Vedic text known as the Upanishads declares, “You are what your deepest desire is. As your desire is, so is your intention. As your intention is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”
When we start our days, our months, our quarters, our plans without setting an intention to fuel the actions then we are more easily trapped to move from a place of reactivity. The undercurrent of our habituations can more easily override any goals we may have. This is not to say that moving freely without any prior analysis is bad. Allowing for spacious waves to roll through life can be a pleasant trip. But, when we have specific goals in mind, it's helpful to have picture in mind of where we want to go.
WHY IS INTENTION IMPORTANT
As leaders in the mind-body connection are understanding more deeply through research, our brain is always working behind the scenes to create our future, and most often it is moving in a direction to minimize known threats.
All of your future goals and dreams are not only a reflection of your subconscious thinking, they are also mediated by your Reticular Activating System (RAS). If you buy a red car, the color red becomes important to you. You need to be able to find that car in a crowded parking lot, or notice if that car is missing from your driveway. Suddenly your RAS is allowing red cars to stay in your more present awareness, and you see them everywhere. The RAS is the part of your brain that serves as a filter between your conscious mind and your subconscious mind.
Knowing that our brain is wired with a threat-bias or negativity bias as a default function (and a very purposeful and important function for safety and health) it is makes sense why we might need to spend some time priming ourselves to look for opportunity and tune our filter to glean for what's important for us to notice and act upon.
If you're stumped on what your intention should be, start by working with your three most foundational life aspects and consider how they operate together:
This is where a theme can be helpful. And selecting one per month is a great start!
1) Grab a piece of paper and draw two lines down it to create three columns.
2) Above the three columns write your theme.
Here are a few example themes to choose from.
3) Inside each column turn your theme into an action statement, transforming it into a mantra you can repeat in meditation
"This month I will bring more [THEME] into my [Body/Mind/Spirit]."
4) Once you have your intention in mind, it's time to put it into action by priming yourself for opportunities. In each column write down simple ways you can put your intention into action. Keep these line-items brief and attainable.
For example, if you chose "self-care" as your theme for the month, you might write in the body column: incorporate at least 30 minute of movement every day. Under the mind column you might write: set-up a daily to-do list to help me stay organized and less stressed. Under the spirit column you might right: set a daily timer for a 5 minute meditation break every morning with my cup of coffee.
5) Meditate with gratitude and your mantra. Part of that ritual is finding a few moments of gratitude for things that have happened in the month you're completing. Gratitude is a very important part of the intention-setting process because it keeps you aware of what already IS available and occurring in your life. Gratitude helps prevent grasping, frustration, and a feeling of scarcity. KEEPING YOUR INTENTION While setting monthly intentions sounds doable enough, it's also important to remind yourself of them. Revisit your Body/Mind/Spirit line items daily. Set the piece of paper on your fridge or desk or nightstand. Look for the simplest item that you can implement on days that feel full and tough. Look for more challenging items on days that you feel more energized and motivated.
And most importantly practice centering with love. The process of setting intentions and taking action upon them can take practice and there may be moments that feel defeating. Every morning when you wake up place your hand on your heart. Take a few deep breaths, and linger in a present moment allowing it to give you peace and fuel for the moments to come.
Interested in making an Intention-Setting Practice a powerful life-changing ritual?
Join Honest Soul Yoga San Antonio for a monthly New Moon Ceremony led by Molly Hall-Harvey. Each workshop includes gentle yoga, guided meditation, and a guided intention-setting practice. You will leave with a small gift as a token to help you remember your intention all month long and take meaningful action.
Find upcoming New Moon Intention Setting Ceremonies Here.