April 17, 2017
Cultivating Intention to live a more sacred life
I believe that setting clear intention is one of the most powerful practices we can use to begin creating a life that feels more sacred. We can begin today. It doesn’t cost a thing. It doesn’t take any special training.
At the beginning of every workshop, I ask students to set their intention for the time we’re going to share. Intention is the tool I use instead of resolutions. I even think they’re more effective than goals at times.
Why intentions over goals? Because goals often rely on exterior circumstances.
Intention allows us to experience what we want to, on an interior level, regardless of what’s going on outside of us. They allow us to be present with ourselves, in integrity, without needing a particular outcome. So, regardless, we can remain our whole, grounded selves.
So when it comes to creating a more sacred life, I don’t begin by reaching for the sage or the crystals.
I begin crafting more of what’s sacred from the inside out.
This is my best recipe for success.
First of all, what do I mean by “intention”?
Well, it’s not a goal. It’s not an outcome or a wish I’m hoping will come true.
Instead, it’s the tone that I’m setting for a particular phase of time. It’s the quality I want to embody. My intention is how I’m choosing to show up in a specific scenario, regardless of what happens. It’s how I ground myself and stay close to my heart.
Intention is the heart of integrity.
It keeps us rooted in our values and our truth. It doesn’t change. That intention is the spark for skillful response and action, no matter what. And blessedly, when we remember our intention, we can stay out of reactivity.
It lives independently of any contingency. It is ours to choose in any moment, at any time. If you want to live a life that feels more aligned, integrous, and sacred, begin with clear intention. It gives you a touchstone that you can return to, again and again, aiming yourself in the direction of what feels sacred to you.
So how do we create these intentions that lead to a more sacred life? For me, it is a process – an ongoing journey and practice.
And, in my experience, this practice
has three main phases:
Setting your intention.
Close your eyes.
Take a deep breath.
Choose a single word or short phrase for how you want to show up in your body and in your life for the next hour. Maybe, after some practice, you stretch this out. Choose an intention for your day or week. Some people find value in choosing a word for the year.
The real action here is in the deciding. Your word or phrase doesn’t have to be perfect. Let it sum up the overall experience, but don’t worry about getting it just-so. We naturally refine our sacred vocabulary over time.
Matching and align yourself with your intention.
Throughout the time you’ve chosen, bring your mind back to your intention.
- How is it going?
- Are you aligned with that intention?
- What could you say/do that would match the tone of the intention?
- How could you bring more of its spirit into your words, choices, and actions?
No need to aim for perfection. Allow the intention to be a guiding light. Allow it to illuminate areas of unconsciousness or places where your life is out of alignment with what you find to be most sacred. This kind of feedback is meant to serve you and the sacredness you’re cultivating.
(No guilt or shame if you’re not 100% aligned out of the gate. You’re human.)
Refining your tone.
Once you’ve had some experience setting your intention and then matching that tone, begin to refine it. Maybe some words serve you better than others. Maybe some times of day feel more aligned for setting your intention.
Allow it to be an experiment. Invest in letting it be a process. Again, it’s not about the outcome, but continually bringing mindfulness and clear-hearted integrity to your daily life. Over time, you’ll develop an intention-setting practice that works for you.
It will point you in the direction that you want to go, until you get closer and closer to that which is most sacred to you.