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Ditch Resolutions; Make Intentions Instead

Here's why setting New Year's intentions are more successful than resolutions.

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Many of us get all stoked up to make New Year's resolutions. The fact is, we often cannot keep those resolutions past January. What about an alternate tradition of setting intentions instead? The truth is, most New Year's resolutions revolve around things we know we should do anyway, such as losing weight, eating more vegetables, exercising every day, having good posture, or living a life that fosters well-being.

When you set an intention, on the other hand, the idea is to manifest something that you want to do. It is a call to action and often marks the beginning of a dream or desire. Intentions are about the longings that have been haunting us. Our intentions can have to do with things such as relationships, love, self-improvement, or career, and affect our emotional, physical, or psychological selves. An intention is a positive call to action about something you want to do, rather than something you don’t want to do but feel that you “should.”

The Vedic text, more commonly known as the Upanishads states, “You are what your deepest desire is. As your desire is, so is your intention. As your intention is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”

Some examples of intentions:

  • Practice mindfulness
  • Achieve inner peace
  • Make spiritual connections
  • Initiate detoxification
  • Stretch daily
  • Work out regularly
  • Celebrate life with joy
  • Relax more often
  • Learn a new skill
  • Increase self-awareness
  • Love yourself and others
  • Practice abdominal breathing

Setting an intention is about giving direction or meaning to our lives. It also could mean changing an attitude about something as a way to transform or change. The nice thing about setting intentions is that you can set them daily, weekly, or monthly. Unlike New Year's resolutions, it’s not necessary to initiate changes to be kept all year long. When setting an intention, our attitudes are very important.

How to set an intention:

  • Make a list of your intentions. In a journal, or on a paper, write: “My intention is ...”
  • Make a list of what you want to do or accomplish. Be specific. Use empowering words and thoughts. Avoid words such as “should,” “always,” “must,” or “never.”
  • During the course of a day, repeat your intention often, either to yourself or out loud.
  • Commit to your intention. Do something that shows your commitment to your intention. For example, if you want to start eating more vegetables, prepare vegetables at all three meals.
  • Remain centered. Center yourself by practicing breathing techniques. Turn your attention to your physical center, which is a couple of inches above your navel. Channel your energy there, then inhale cleansing energy and exhale dark energy
  • Remain grounded. Ground yourself by connecting to the earth. Stand in one spot and imagine yourself planting your roots into the earth. Inhale and draw energy into your roots, then exhale, putting your roots even deeper beneath you.
  • Light a candle. Lighting an intention candle is a powerful symbol, bringing light to your wishes. It illuminates the nature of your intention.
  • Meditate. Meditation will help you transcend your ego mind by allowing to you enter the silence that leads to a state of pure consciousness.
  • Journaling. Every day, write down your thoughts about your intention. At night, keep a gratitude journal and write down all that you are thankful for and the ways you see your intentions beginning to manifest...
  • Think positive thoughts about your intention and put your intention out into the universe. Share your intention with others, as this deepens your commitment and holds you accountable for your intention. It also makes it easier for you to manifest.
  • When thinking about your intentions, focus on looking forward, rather than backward.

In the discussion of intentions on a larger scale, or for the collective, Lynne McTaggart writes about the possibilities in her book, The Intention Experiment: “When a huge number of people think the same thought at the same time, could this possibly instigate and affect world change?” The idea is that thoughts can, and do, affect physical reality ... With every thought, we have the ability to transform both ourselves and others. This is not so unreasonable when we consider that for years, shamans, Buddhist monks, and Qigong masters have practiced distant healing. As McTaggart so deftly states, “A thought is not a thing; a thought is a thing that influences other things.” In this vein, intentions set for ourselves and/or the world can be a powerful way to initiate transformation and change.

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