Warrior Practise: Setting Your Intention

Something I have worked with over the years of practicing Yoga and Meditation is Intention. Intention forms the invisible scaffolding that gives structure and specificity to our efforts in Yoga practice, meditation and life. Intention brings meaning and purposeful direction to all that we embark on.

Intention setting is used in many traditions to help one come into alignment with who they really are. In the Buddhist tradition right intention is taught as the second step in the eightfold path and in the yogic tradition intention is taught as the practice of sankalpa.

Intentions are similar to goals but they have important differences.

Goals are usually future oriented and relate to a perceived achievement. Perhaps we have goals related to our weight, productivity or finances. (Just to add there is nothing wrong with goals)

However, goals without an intentional grounding can come from a place of ego desire and may encourage feelings of not being enough or having enough.

The practice of sankalpa and right intention is a conscious approach to goal setting, which helps us to recognize that we already have everything and anything we will ever need. It helps us to connect with the place within us that already embodies the states we wish for ourselves.

How to set an InLifeguard-02tention

It helps to bring our intentions into our awareness when are mind and body feels settled. When starting our practice whether yoga or meditation, take time to settle before starting, tune in to breath and body. When we rest in open awareness we are far more able to gain insight through reflection. We are better placed to hear the messages from within, enabling us to act from this knowing.

It is important to take the time to reflect on your deepest values. What is most important to you? At the end of your life, what will truly matter?

Yoga and meditation can connect us with our values, and help to inform our values, because as our practice deepens we naturally learn the importance of qualities like kindness, patience and compassion for self and other.

Once we have established our deeper motivations we are ready to state our sankalpa or focus on our intention. Stating our vow in the present tense or with the prefix “may I be” helps us to connect with and embody the intended state right now. Creating an intentional vow is actually a deep recognition that the quality we seek already exists within and is immediately accessible.


Bringing Intention to Practice

If we take yoga practice for instance, it matters less what we do in the practice than how we do it and why we do it. Take one yoga pose, or a meditation practice or breathing practice, and create your intention each time it is approached. Be assured, the practice will take on an entirely new meaning and almost certainly a different outcome.

When we arrive on our mat or cushion to practice, we take time to reflect what has bought us to the practice, and from that reflection we can set an intention for that particular practice. If your intention is to be more compassionate and kind, then let that be so, and as the practice unfolds keep your intention in your mind, turn up to it fully, with present moment awareness and a willingness to be with where you’re body is at in that particular moment, and not where you want it to be, not frustrated because you don’t seem to be getting any more flexible, or you aren’t as flexible as the person on the mat next to you. Be with your experience with kindness and compassion no matter what arises.

When we connect with our deeper intentions we gain access to our true nature. Our true nature exists within each one of us and it can be felt and heard if we just tune in and listen.