Monday, August 12, 2013

How to Set an Intention

In my last post, I mentioned that I wanted to discuss intention setting. (In the stressful situation I wrote about, I had told my son, "I'm wanting to feel calm and spacious..." and that that was my intention for that day.)

This, intention setting, is another tool I practice to help my days feel rich and vital and blissful. Or, on days when I'm coping with something difficult, it helps my day to have the space and calm and peace I need to make room for difficult emotions or situations that I know I'll have to navigate.

It's really simple. The key is that you have to make it a habit and make room for intention setting in the beginning of your day.

On an average day, I might set an intention like this: "At the end of the day, I want to feel energetic and joyful."

Other common intentions in my household include:
  • Abundant and free
  • Calm and spacious
  • Peaceful and content
  • Patient and loving
  • Playful
  • Appreciative
  • Present and aware
  • Empathetic
  • Mindful
  • Rich and prosperous
You get the idea. Choose one, choose a few. Mix and match. Create what's relevant to you. The other thing is, you can pick whatever you want, but you can't let circumstances derail your intention. That's where the practice comes in. If you want to feel patient and loving and your child is testing your patience with huge tantrums, you have to devise some way to try and generate, authentically, the feeling of patience and lovingkindness, in the face of tests.

That's why I often like to add a strategy at the end of my intention. So, it might look like this: "At the end of the day, I want to feel patient and loving. --> Deep breaths, counting and lots of hugs!"

That way I have the intellectual touchstone--the idea about the feeling--and a roadmap for how to actually generate, in my body and brain and heart, the feeling.

My son and I have a little whiteboard we keep on the table where we write down our intentions over breakfast. You don't have to do this, but I like to model this practice for my children, so that's important to me. You can keep yours private if you want.

My family has had so much success with this practice, because it prevents us from reacting out of a more primitive and emotional place. Just by setting the intention, we have a positive, healthy direction we've placed in the front of our minds.

I don't want to be a mama who yells all the time. I don't want to be angry, impatient, frustrated, distracted, discontented, etc. I want to be rich, happy, joyful, grateful, loving, patient, kind, contented and all the other good qualities we admire. I want to live in those feelings. And, as a wise teacher says, what you appreciate, appreciates. The more you can authentically dwell in those feelings, the more good feelings come to you.

As if it weren't enough to just feel better and have happier, more spacious days, other benefits accrue from this practice: Healthier relationships. More time. An instinct toward simplicity, gratitude and kindness. Less debt. More productivity in the areas of the most meaning. Clarity of thoughts. Less time spent in regret, less time apologizing. More playfulness and creativity.

Go ahead. Give it a try. Let me know how it goes for you, or if you have any questions.


1 comment:

MaeMae said...

I just found you! There are some real gems in your blog. It looks like you no longer write here. Do you have a new blog? I feel you have too much to share to just stop!! :)