The Power of Intention (and Action)


This past year, I (logical and eternally skeptical) took a detour into lite “woo.” My personal dictionary defines woo as anything that can’t be reliably demonstrated or falsified. Yet there is another side of me who believes whole-heartedly in the power of our mind to create change. In this vein, I started exploring the setting of intentions.


It started with my bedtime meditation practice. During yoga nidra (a sort of progressive relaxation and body scan to promote better sleep), you set a Sankalpa (heart-felt resolve). This is a short, positive I-statement about something you want to be true for yourself. It can be as simple as “I am relaxed” to a trait you want to develop, “I set boundaries with grace and ease.” Sometimes a Sankalpa is for that particular day, and other times, I have practiced with the same statement for weeks at a time: “I am present and peaceful.”


Moon cycles are another traditional time to set intentions, particularly at the new and full moon. I love that this practice provides a fresh start twice a month, every month. The new moon is for reflecting on where I am currently and where I want to go. Think of it as planting seeds for the future. For example, “This month, I want to focus on moving my body in ways that feel good in the moment and support my mental and physical well-being.” The full moon is for releasing and letting go of ideas, habits, etc. that are not serving me: “I will let go of unrealistic expectations around (fill in the blank) and focus on what I can do.”


The change of seasons, sometimes called the Wheel of the Year, are another traditional time for leaning into specific intentions related to the time of year. For example, intentions around growth in Spring, abundance in Summer, gratitude in Fall, and rest/reflection in Winter.


Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash


In practicing intention, I soon realized that intention that stays in the mind or on the journal page is only halfway there. The next step of intention is action, helping the seeds planted bloom or the habit released to continue to flow away. That is something this logical, skeptical person can get behind. For example, what does it look like for me to be “present and peaceful”? What does that look like at work? How will that manifest at home with my family? Considering these different scenarios gives me a place to start practicing toward being present and peaceful.


In setting intentions, I’ve found a happy balance between existing in the present moment and manifesting what might be.


Do you set intentions (or personal goals, if you’d prefer) on a regular basis? How do you make those intentions/goals a reality?