I was sitting on my mustard-colored couch in Manhattan, talking to my therapist on the phone. I told her, “I don’t have time to cry.” My grandmother had just died. I felt like I’d lost my guide, angel, and queen.
My therapist had asked how I was handling the loss. My response speaks for itself.
As in so many other areas of life, I thought confronting my reality would make me “lose control.” (This thought pattern also kept me locked in hyper-regimented eating for several years. I'm sure many of you can relate.)
Well, sweeping my feelings under the rug worked. Until it didn’t.
Eventually stuff hit the fan.
I developed debilitating anxiety. I had several panic attacks, complete with cold flushes and heart palpitations. Eating stressed me out so much that I could hardly digest food. I couldn’t sleep for more than a couple hours at a time.
After several months of feeling like I was hanging by a thread, a dawn broke. I started to learn how to heal myself and accept emotions in a way that was magical and enlivening, instead of terrifying.
One practice that changed the game was intention setting.
Setting an intention simply means deciding on an area to focus your energy and attention on for a given period.
It’s a way of connecting with a way of being that benefits you.
Intention setting can help you do all the good things: enjoy your job more, connect more deeply with the people around you, lose weight, feel happy -- the whole gamut! It's a tool for change, and you choose what changes.
Here are some examples:
My intention is clarity. A great one if you're in a career or relationship transition.
My intention is patience. I'm sure many of us can use more of this :)
My intention is unconditional self-love. Useful if you second-guess yourself, feel unsatisfied with your body, etc.
(Keep reading to learn my practical process for setting an intention.)
You’ll notice that intentions are not goals. Setting intention is not about achieving, straining, or one-upping yourself.
Setting intention is about non-judgmentally witnessing where you’re at, and discerning the mode of being to call in so you feel more at center.
In addition to helping you feel more peaceful and grounded, intention setting can help you transform your body permanently. This practice cultivates self-awareness, which is a key component in making empowered decisions around food, fitness, and self-care.
Set an intention each morning or week. I find the intention becomes less potent with intervals any longer than a week.
With that, let’s get down to business.
Here are 5 quick, practical steps for setting an intention:
Get quiet. Sit by yourself somewhere silent for 5-10 minutes. Notice where you’re at. Are you stressed? Irritable? Inspired? Are you holding tension?
Let your intention show up. I do this by mentally cycling through words: “peace,” “understanding,” “acceptance,” etc. Most words won’t resonate. Pay attention to the ones that do, and settle on the one that feels right on every level. You'll know you’ve found your intention when connecting with that word feels like complete calm.
Write your intention down, in a complete sentence, on paper. So, instead of just writing "clarity," write: "My intention is clarity." This is the first step in bringing the intention out of your head and into form.
Keep coming back to it. Your intention is only as good as your degree of focus on it. When you first start intention setting, you won’t be in the habit of remembering your intention throughout the day. So, write it on a post-it and stick it to your laptop. Set an hourly phone alarm as a reminder. Scrawl it in your work notebook.
Don’t overthink it. This is supposed to be light and helpful.
Bonus: Notice if you feel any different after you've set your intention and written it down. I feel more peaceful almost immediately after going through this short process.
There you have it. Simple, quick, manageable.
An important point to address: why not just just declare your intention in your head as you're going about your normal day?
Here's why: change takes effort. If you want to up-level your mindset, it's usually not enough to treat the new thoughts just like any other blip on the radar. It's important to put conscious energy towards the new way.
So, a friendly challenge: set an intention tomorrow. Notice how your day transforms.
Love and light,