I first started the practice of setting intentions when I took a yoga class more than 30 years ago. The instructor compared it to something we felt strongly about, or as setting a goal for our life. This resonated strongly with my ENFJ strong « goal-oriented » personality (Myers Briggs) and setting daily intentions became almost a daily morning meditation practice.
Full disclosure: in the beginning, a morning mediation practice for me was loosely defined as the brief period of time in my day, generally morning, where I was alone with my own thoughts, and had the ability to breathe, and have a quiet moment to reflect on how I wanted my day to go. It helped to set the tone for the day. (On the days where I didn’t have time to do a 20-minute guided meditation, then sometimes it was that 1-minute in the car, without radio, where I focused on gratitude and the most positive outcome for my morning, or my day. )
Setting intentions is actually a powerful tool used in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) because when you do so, you’re creating within yourself a new and specific frame of reference for your purpose in life. You’re sending a message to the Universe, to the world and to yourself about…
- Who you want to be.
- What you wish to contribute.
- How you choose to touch the lives of others.
They can be both large (lifelong) and small (for the next day or even the next hour) and are created to foster focus and motivation, and strengthen your determination.
A good first intention for meditation beginners might be to meditate daily or to take 10 one-minute meditation breaks throughout the day, regardless of your state of mind or the length of your to-do list.
The point is to discover and affirm the intentions that are right for you. Here are some more examples of clear intentions you can set:
Genuine intentions arise from within. Take time with the exercise below to discover your genuine intentions, write them down, and engage them for your practice. It is suggested that this be done when you first start a meditation practice, but also any time you lose focus along your meditation journey.
1. Write down words or phrases that best describe your answers to these questions: What is my deepest desire for this meditation ? What am I trying to cultivate in my life, day?
3. Re-read your responses and pay attention to how true each feels on an intuitive level in your body. Does it feel “right” in your gut or heart.
4. Express each intention as a concise statement of fact in the present tense, as if it’s already true. This enables your subconscious mind to register your intentions as actualities instead of possibilities.
5. Pick one, two, or even three intentions and shorten them into simple, easily remembered phrases.
6. Repeat your intentions internally to yourself with deep feeling and certainty, with your entire body and mind.
Try replacing resolutions with intentions next year and see if it makes a difference. Often it’s not the resolution that’s the problem. It’s that the intention behind the resolution wasn’t powerful enough.
Today’s journal prompt: I like Sundays because…
Intention for today’s meditation: Today, I intend to be happy from the inside out.