The Art of Setting Intentions
Setting intentions is a powerful tool for helping us achieve happiness and fulfillment as well as walking with consciousness and purpose. The intention setting process provides us with greater insight to our values, aspirations, and purpose and allows us to live in the present moment while still aiming towards new growth and achievements. While our goals are the desired outcome, setting an intention is an important step that allows us to experience contentment and peace, even if the goal/outcome is never completely reached.
There are many different types of intentions, depending on your aim/goal. There are daily intentions, ceremonial/healing intentions and long-term intentions designed to support life changes or specific times of the year (intentions designed to support New Year’s Resolutions is a good example).
When you are setting daily intentions, and you speak your intention out loud – often as a positive affirmation – out loud, it aligns your heart and mind and creates a meaningful purpose to fill your day. Choosing an intention each morning will help you stay focused and centered, even if there is chaos around you. Start each morning by energizing your intention with supporting sacred items that compliment your intention as well as meditation or another daily conscious practice. This will ensure you’ve created the space to manifest your intention. You can also use your intention as a daily mantra that you repeat throughout the day to stay focused on your goals even as you go about your daily routine.
Crafting powerful intentions starts by setting goals that align with your life’s values, aspirations, and purpose. An intention holds little power if there isn’t a valuable reason for why you want to achieve it. Be sure to write down your thoughts as you follow these steps for creating goals that will add meaning to your life.
How to Set Intentions:
- Decide what truly matters to you. Your values drive the actions in your life and recognizing what those values are will help you find fulfillment. This is where the power of intention lies. Write down at least five things that truly matter to you. Some examples may be spirituality, happiness, kindness, wisdom, or health.
- Explore the many areas of your life that need an upgrade. Goals should encompass more than one aspect of life, to ensure personal growth reaches its full potential. Consider how you can improve your inner joy, relationships, career, social life, spirituality, health, and community. Using your core values to guide you, think about goals you want to set for each of these areas.
- Be specific and thoughtful. When you are setting an intention for each of your goals, be specific about what you want to achieve, by when, and why you want to achieve it. Be sure to think about what you need to do to accomplish these goals and what might prevent you from achieving them.
Each month, focus on one of the bigger goals that you’d like to work on. Set a positive intention that will help you achieve this goal. For example, if your goal is to develop a deeper meditation practice, you may set the intention of “I live in the present moment,” to help you practice freeing your mind of the past and future. Keeping your daily intentions simple will keep you centered and foster change. If you’ve had success with your intention after a few days, try a new one with the same goal in mind.
When you are setting your intentions, you can incorporate healing stones, crystal, mala beads, or other sacred items into the process. Wearing a crystal energy bracelet or other sacred item that is aligned with your intention serves as a constant reminder of your intention. Every time you look down at your wrist, you will be reminded of the intentions and goals you set for yourself that day. If you are placing an energy crystal atop your written intention, every time you see it in your space, you will think about your intention and live with that intention. Healing crystals also help to magnify your intentions and goals, constantly putting them out into the universe so they can manifest themselves much quicker.
The important thing to remember when setting intentions is that they help create the present moment. Regardless of if you ever achieve your goal or not, intentions bring you in line with the reason why you want to accomplish those goals. They help create value in your daily life by providing motivation to achieve something in the moment rather than in the future. Your success simply relies on doing one thing a day that supports your intention. Don’t get frustrated if you need to adjust your intention or break it up into smaller, bite-sized pieces. This is part of the learning process and letting go of ego to reach the attainable shows wisdom.
Healing or ceremonial intentions are specific to healing work or ceremonies. These are the intentions we set when attending Sacred Ceremony or when doing our own transformational inner-healing work. Therapists and mental health professionals are good at helping clients/patients set intentions for their therapy. Medicine People do the same and help ceremony participants set specific intentions for ceremony with the goal being profound transformation with the support of Great Spirit and Plant Medicines. Self-love is one of the most important attributes needed for growth and healing. Of course, having self-love supports our inner growth and inner growth supports having self-love.
Sitting in ceremony with or without an intention can be compared to sailing across the ocean with or without a compass. Without a compass you may be lost at sea but with a compass you have a sense of direction and clarity of what is happening in your ceremony. Without a healing intention, people often don’t know what it is they are purging/experiencing, so their ceremony may be experienced as an incoherent swirl of information and emotions. More importantly, integrating such a ceremony may be difficult because the mind fails to understand what happened, which may leave you in a state of confusion. This does not mean that ceremonies with a healing intention are always crystal clear to the mind, but at least you’re able to surrender and trust that whatever happens in your ceremony is for your highest and greatest good and most likely related to your intention.
Ultimately, your intention is the answer to the question: “Why have I decided to attend Ceremony?” It may seem like a simple question, but upon further contemplation, you will find that it calls for some serious inquiry into your life, your habits, your healthy versus unhealthy ego, your personality and your psyche. It takes great courage to step outside your comfort zone and trust the healing power of Plant Medicines and Medicine People, so I encourage you to make the most of this opportunity and set your healing intention.
Long-term Intentions like those we set on New Year’s require more thought, effort and often build on daily, monthly, and other intentions. Achieving New Year’s resolutions/intentions are more likely to be achieved if we look at where we have been and what has and hasn’t worked as well as looking at where we want to be.
Preparation is key to every victory in life
The eve of the last day of the year has long been recognized as an auspicious and sacred time to:
- Reflect and celebrate the year that has passed
- Release thoughts and beliefs that are no longer serving you
- Set clear intentions for the year ahead
- Invite the powerful energy of attraction to manifest your desires
A great way to do this is with a Release & Intend Ceremony. Set aside at least 30 minutes for this ceremony and choose the elements out of the suggestions below that resonate with you. Most importantly, remember to make this ceremony fun and exciting!
- CREATE A SACRED SPACE
Select a day and time when you (and whoever you invite) will enjoy focusing on setting intentions without interruptions.
When deciding on location, begin with connecting with what a ceremony means to you and what kind of an environment is conducive for feeling united in your heart, mind and soul.
• lighting a candle with the intention of illuminating the vision for your next year
• burning some incense or sage to clear the space
• creating an altar with things that hold personal meaning such as photographs, art, and sacred objects
• having a journal and pen ready and maybe even getting a whole collection of art supplies
• gathering animal/tarot cards or any other tools for connecting with inner wisdom
• putting on inspiring music
• dressing up in clothing that makes you feel beautiful, empowered and comfortable
- CENTER YOURSELF
Meditate or just do some deep breathing for 5-10 minutes. Slow down your heart rate. Feel your body and all the present sensations. Drop-in to Presence. If you are gathering with friends, I recommend someone guiding everyone in a centering meditation.
- REFLECT ON INTENTIONS FROM THIS YEAR
If you can read last year’s notes or remember you intentions for this year, it will be useful to reflect and journal your thoughts about them:
• Have you achieved what you set out to accomplish in the last 12 months?
• Did you live in alignment with your true intentions and priorities? If not, why?
• What valuable personal and professional lessons have you learned?
Maybe you feel proud and powerful for making courageous choices. Or maybe you feel angry and frustrated for continuing outdated patterns. All of it is perfectly okay, and I highly suggest removing any internal censoring and having a real heart-to-heart with your journal.
Rest in Napoleon Hill’s wisdom that “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” If you want to share this with other people who are doing the ceremony with you, share 2-3 lessons you learned from the year.
Consider writing down 2-3 habits or beliefs that you know you are ready to release and burn them.
As they go up in flames, know that the consciousness that created this world heard your readiness to shift and will now fully support you in your desire!
- WRITE DOWN 10 HIGHLIGHTS FROM THIS YEAR
They can be big achievements or subtler magic moments. Remember how they felt and what made them so special.
If you are present with others, share some of your highlights in all their juicy glory! Focusing and reliving the most exciting and exhilarating times of your life is one of the most powerful ways of reprogramming your mindset to keep a success score card, instead of a failure tab!
- DECLARE WHAT YOU WANT NEXT YEAR
I recommend writing down one intention for each area of your life. I find these wishes to feel more powerful when I state them in present tense so that I feel like I’m already living my desires.
Here are four main areas to focus on:
A. Your Health. The health goal can do with fitness or dietary habits or it can be very general, such as: “I tune into my body wisdom and make choices that nourish and support every cell in radiant health.”
B. Your Wealth. The wealth intention can be a specific desire in your career or finances or it can be something like: “I recognize my innate ability to experience an abundance of money, time and love.”
C. Your Relationships. A relationship goal will be more powerful if you can focus on how YOU want to feel instead of how you would like someone else to change. For example: “I love being in satisfying, loving and nurturing relationships” or “I am attracting the perfect companion for me by being the kind of mate I want to attract.”
D. Your Personal Enrichment. Probably the most important goal out of all 3 because it is what feeds your soul, heart and mind. A great way to explore this topic is to free-write all the things that you would be doing if you had all the money, time and freedom you could want. Look over what you wrote and think of one goal for the year ahead that lights you up. For instance, you could explore meditation programs or new classes.
- CHOOSE A THEME FOR NEXT YEAR
After you have reflected on where you’ve been and where you want to go, it is also useful to pick a theme word or phrase for the year. This focus can be your North Star when making decisions in the coming months.
Consider putting up notes around the house to remind you often of your theme word or phrase. It’s amazing how just a simple phrase can help us remember what our priorities are!
- SHARE, AMPLIFY, MULTIPLY
If you are with others, share your intentions and your theme one by one, and after each person has finished speaking, reflect aloud together: “And so it is!”
If you do the ceremony on your own, I recommend writing an email to a couple of friends summarizing your desires for the year and asking them to help you stay focused in the coming year. When two or more minds connect with an idea at the same time, the power of the idea becomes greater than the sum of the individual parts. The more you are supported the better, so share with (supportive) others what you want to develop in your life and you will be amazed how much more fun and easy it will be to journey to your goals.
- CREATE A SACRED SPACE
The theme can also be a way to recognize when you’ve gotten off balance and help correct course
By this time, you should be feeling so good you could float, and you are ready to step into the next year as a reborn and new YOU!
I’d love to hear your favorite ways to wrap up the end of the year and set intentions for next year. Have you seen a difference in your life when doing a New Year’s Eve ritual? Leave your comments below to share with all or contact me by email.
Adapted from multiple blog posts, including: THE ART OF SETTING INTENTIONS on energymuse.com, SETTING INTENTIONS WITH A NEW MOON CEREMONY on mamamalas.com, NARROWING YOR INTENTION by Karin at rainforesthealingcenter.com, and HOW TO SET INTENTIONS ON NEW YEAR’S EVE TO GUARANTEE A PHENOMENAL YEAR AHEAD by Lana Shlafer on huffingtonpost.com.