Aligning Attention and Intention

how staying present can move you forward

by Angie Hildebrand...

Do you have a clear direction of where you want to go in your life? Are you on the road that will lead you there, or do you feel like you’re driving without a map?

As a yoga teacher, I dedicate a few moments before beginning a practice by guiding my students to set an intention. An intention is defined as “a determination to act a certain way.” Setting an intention allows each individual to focus their awareness on something meaningful and personal to them - think passion, purpose, desire, or value - that he or she desires to cultivate more of in their life. An intention could also be more simple and tangible, such as a gratitude or appreciation: “I am grateful to be able to step on my mat today.”

Setting an intention is an intensely purposeful and personal practice, offering an opportunity to set our thoughts, words, and actions into motion. Using an intention in yoga brings meaning to the practice and serves as a reminder to stay present when the mind begins to wander. This allows us to get the most out of the time we spend on our mats.

Remembering our intention allows us to leave our to-do lists in the future and the coffee spill from that morning in the past. Shifting focus from things off the mat to on the mat, at that particular moment, can be the conduit for powerful plans to be set into motion. Coming back to your intention, over and over on your mat, creates a strong foundation for your asana practice, but also for more of what you desire in your life.

So what happens when we leave the mat? We often return to those spaces where we have no control - what already happened and what might happen. But what if we carry that mindfulness practice from the mat into the journey of our everyday lives? Can we allow our yoga to shift into our off-the-mat lives? We can apply the power of intention to our everyday lives through the creation of intentions to live in the now as if they were the futures that we visualize. 

Here are some inspiring ways to create intentions that will remind you how incredibly powerful you are:

Know your WHY. Get clear on this: Why are you here? What are the gifts that you intend to share with the world? Knowing your WHY allows you to live purposefully, aligned, passionately, and with gratitude. 

Begin with clarity. Meditate, walk in nature, journal...clear your head and center yourself so that your soul may speak out loud. What lights you up? What dreams and desires arise? What does your intention look like in your life? Feel like in your body? 

You hold the keys to your magic. Avoid the use of negative words in your intentions. Formulate them in a way that reflects the positive outcome you want to create and invite to your life. This quote by Deepak Chopra really drives the point home for me: “Intentions compressed into words enfold magical power.” 

Keep it short and sweet. Your intention is your message to the universe. Write with clarity and conciseness about what you want. How does it look and feel? The best intentions are brief, but inspiring.

Not even the sky’s the limit. Think expansive. Since you may not even know how amazing it could be, why limit yourself on the goodness you can bring to your life? Researchers have shown that even water can be influenced by thoughts and intention (check out Dr. Masaru Emoto’s work). Just imagine the changes that can happen in your life just by shifting the way you think through the creation of powerful, positive intentions. 

Try it on! It has been my experience that intentions take several hours to several days to formulate. Start somewhere by writing an idea down. Then try it on. How does it feel in your soul? If it doesn’t light you up, rewrite, and try, try again until you feel ignited. You will recognize a true, authentic-to-you intention when you feel every word in its perfection in your soul. 

Kimberly Ghorai