How to Practice Intention Setting

intention

Harness the power of intention in daily life and in practice in order to access the divine life force that exists within.

Intention setting is used in many traditions to help one come into alignment with who they really are. In the Buddhist tradition right intention is taught as the second step in the eightfold path and in the yogic tradition intention is taught as the practice of sankalpa.

Intentions are similar to goals but they have important differences. We are all familiar with some level of goal setting; goals are usually future oriented and relate to a perceived achievement. Perhaps we have goals related to our weight, productivity or finances.

To be clear - there is nothing inherently wrong with goals. Goals help us to be effective in our lives.

However, goals without an intentional grounding can come from a place of ego desire and may elicit a feeling of not being or having enough.

The practice of sankalpa and right intention is a conscious approach to goal setting which helps us to recognize that we already have everything and anything we will ever need. It helps us to connect with the sacred place within that already embodies the states we wish for ourselves. Practicing intention also helps us to find the reasons behind our goals and ensures we are acting in accordance with our deeper values while pursuing them.   

 

How to Practice Intention Setting:

Meditation

It is important to bring our intentions into our awareness when we are feeling relaxed, present and available. When our bodies and minds are calm we are more able to hear the whispering of our soul. When we rest in open awareness we are able to gain insight through reflection and open to the callings of our heart. When we hear the messages from within we can act from this knowing, channeling divine energy, therefore making our desires manifest.

Reflect on your deepest values

Chances are as you try to tune in to your intentions during meditation your conditioning will become apparent. Perhaps you want that job, that lover or those last 5 pounds off. The opportunity here is to see the deeper meaning in your desires. If you achieved those goals what would you feel? How would your life experience be different? These inquires will lead you to contemplate what really drives you.

So before jumping into goals or intentions take the time to reflect on your deepest values. What is most important to you? At the end of your life what will truly matter? Yoga and meditation can connect us with our values, and helps to inform our values, because as our practice deepens we naturally learn the importance of qualities like kindness, patience and compassion for self and other.

State your intention

"The sankalpa (intention) really describes who we are and how we move in the world when we're in harmony with ourselves." ~ Richard Miller

Once we have established our deeper motivations we are ready to state our sankalpa or focus on our intention. Stating our vow in the present tense or with the prefix "may I be" helps us to connect with our longing and embody the intended state right now. Creating an intentional vow is actually a deep recognition that the quality we seek already exists within and is immediately accessible.

May I be kind. compassionate. patient.

Balance being and becoming

There is a contradiction inherent in the practice of intention - in fact it exists within all of our practice. At any given time we have the opportunity to "be" our intention and at the same time we are constantly "becoming" it.

As we move through our life we will inevitably be reminded that we have not fully embodied our intention. Especially under challenging circumstances or when we become overly fixated on our goals.

When we recognize we are not acting from our deeper intentions we can return to the simplicity of our vow.... "May I be kind..." This returning over and over again acts as a reminder of our deepest values and guides the compass of our life. When we connect with our deeper intentions we gain access to our true nature. Our true nature exists within each one of us and it can be felt and heard if we tune in and listen. My wish for you is that you access your sankalpa and you actively embrace it in order to fulfill your hearts longing.