As Christmas approaches and a new year is around the corner, we might be starting to think about our new year’s resolutions or what we want to change going forwards. Perhaps it is useful to think about the difference between having goals and setting intentions. Goal making is a valuable skill; it involves envisioning a future outcome in our life or in our behaviour and then working hard to achieve it.
Setting an intention is quite a different thing. It is not orientated towards a future outcome instead it is a path or practice which is focused on ‘being’ in the present moment. We can set our intentions by understanding what matters most to us and commit to align our actions with our inner values. It is an ever-renewing process, which we don’t just forget about; we need to live it every day. Being grounded in our intentions provides integrity and unity in life. They are the starting point of our dreams and hold our creative power. It is these focused intentions that ultimately fulfil us and they are the seed forms which allow us to grow, flourish and nurture ourselves.
Most of the time we are caught up in thoughts, emotions and memories. One of the most effective ways to get beyond the ego-mind is through meditation or yoga. Ideally, we need to find a place of awareness and openness. By allowing ourselves to become more conscious, we can create the fertile soil in which to plant the seeds and set our intentions. It may take some time but try and let go of judgement and ask yourself ‘What is it that my heart truly wants?’.
We often think about dedicating our yoga practice to a loved one or creating an intention. It is these intentions or dedications that are useful to transfer from our mat into our daily life. Cultivating a quality or virtue might include patience, grace, gratitude or acceptance. Getting in touch with these aspects of ourselves offers the potential to share them with our family, our community and the world around us. By sharing positive energy, it is not diminished in ourself, it allows us to feel lighter and brighter and more connected. What challenges us can be seen as an opportunity for growth and we can keep coming back to it, reconnecting with it and living it every day.
So rather than thinking ‘I really want to have a new, exciting and passionate relationship by the end of January’ perhaps we could set the intention of ‘I want to create a long-term loving relationship so that I feel love, happiness and seen for who I am’. Ultimately we must be that which we desire. Love can only be attracted by and returned by love.
This Christmas and entering the new year, it’s not about willpower, its more about developing the skills and strategies that, with patience, will lead to more abundance. So next year rather than ….I will drink less, quit smoking, find love, save money, lose weight….. how about bringing about transformation in a different way.
This year I will let go of…………
I will embrace……..
I will honour my……….
I will stand up and share my …… with the world!
This year I will remember that I am loved and I am enough!
Setting an intention is about being clear on what you want whilst trying to remain detached from the outcome. Whatever it is, the intention comes from a feeling of what is right for you now, not from what you wish you had or should have done differently. If you trust the process, the results could be even better than you can imagine!
Wishing you a very happy, peaceful and joyous 2017.
Nikki Kemp is a Psychotherapist in private practice in Shepherd’s Bush.