At the beginning of yoga class and iRest meditation, we are often asked to set an intention. By doing so, we commit to using the energy of the practice toward a goal. An intention can be something small, like staying focused and alert, or something larger, like opening the heart to compassion. A personal intention can guide and motivate us through the practice, and even through the rest of the day. So what would happen if we set an intention for our whole life?
A life’s intention would mean putting into words our purpose or code for living. It would force us to define what we really stand for. I think the idea of intention is difficult for a lot of us. After all, it implies that we can point to and define our true purpose in life, when that is the ultimate question for many people. How do we know if our path is the right one? You can find hundreds of books and websites devoted to this very question. I think part of the problem is that we expect perfection. We see a word like intention or purpose, and we believe that it means we should know the exact course our life will take, and that course must be super spiritual, meaningful and good. That’s a lot to live up to!
Living with intention doesn’t require any of that. Intention is simply about reminding ourselves what is most important, so that it’s fresh in our consciousness. If we reaffirm our intention often, we will start to see connections in our daily lives. Not because of any secret power in the universe, but because we are aware that we are looking for something, so we are more observant. We won’t miss any clues that present themselves.
You can work with intention in many ways. Try journaling about what is most important to you, and remember that there may be several answers. This exercise could help you to realize a common thread among them, leading you to greater clarity. Another idea is to set an intention for each day, such as a small goal in your personal or professional life. Then expand to longer-term goals, maybe for the next month or year. Try to make it positive. For example, “I will look for a more rewarding career” instead of “I will get out of this dead-end job”. Keep refining your intentions, and you will find yourself getting closer and closer to your true life’s purpose. Ultimately, when our actions align with our purpose, we are truly living to our fullest potential.