In every yoga video, we mention to “set your intention” before the yoga practice. I realize that students may have no idea what the heck this means, so I explain our intention of the intention with intention below (hehe).
What is an intention?
An intention is, by definition, a purpose and/or to act with purpose. It is like drawing a map of where you would like to go. Basically, you aren’t mindlessly wandering through your day if you have an intention- your actions use this concept as a proverbial seed in which actions can “grow” from throughout the day. In this sense, your intention is the root of your actions because you are acting with purpose. You are allowing the intention to be active, and all of your actions are connected by this underlying root.
Goal setting vs. Intention setting
Are you used to setting goals? Perhaps daily goals to accomplish tasks or lists to remind you of daily and life goals (think to-do lists and bucket lists)? Most people set goals to stay on a particular path and work toward achieving something, commonly referred to as the end goal. Goal setting can definitely help you achieve results that you want, but do you always enjoy the process toward attaining the goal?
That is the primary difference between a goal and an intention. A goal is focused on the end product, while an intention is focused on a process. Focusing on the present moment can foster a new perspective and, as some research shows, even foster more satisfaction and happiness (check out Matt Killingsworth’s TED talk to explore this).
Brainstorming and Setting your intention
Setting your intention is so simple that it may seem complicated to start. As with all things, it is all about taking that first step to begin on a path (or to realize you are already on one).
Step 1. What is a characteristic you value in yourself? What actions make you feel good?
Keep the intention positive, focused on present (short-term) and make sure it can adapt to various situations.
What sucks in your life? Are you able to control it? What can you do to make it better today?
OR (we’re sticking to positive, right?) What makes your grateful in your life? How can you maximize this gratitude everyday day?
Step 2: Intend to take Action…… with your Intention!
Apply the intention. This may seem simple, but it is easy to fall into autopilot and old patterns that fling you back to being, well, without intention! Bring yourself back to the moment and remind yourself of your intention by setting an alarm on your phone as a reminder, or an old school sticky note in your wallet, fridge, or mirror.
Step 3. Keep the Intention Going and Growing.
Install the intention into your day, through reminders mentioned above. In the morning, repeat the intention out loud to yourself or meditate briefly (5-10 minutes) on it. Let your actions throughout the day to be guided by the intention, and notice how it affects your perspective and interactions with others.
Setting intentions is simple yet challenging. It is not meant to dominate your life, but rather, to guide and enhance it. Your intention should empower you to take action and be aware of your actions. Give it a go!
Need help thinking of an intention? Borrow one of these:
- Gratitude: I intend to be more grateful for what I have and to others in my life.
- Love: I intend to love fully and without judgment.
- Positive: I intend to be positive with myself, by actions and others.
- Compassion: I intend to be compassionate toward others and myself.
- Forgiveness: I intend to forgive others and myself.