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How to Set an Intention During Times of Change

Thumbnail: Gift Habeshaw

Times of change are times of rebirth and recalibration.

A time to plant a seed.

A time when our old ways of living, our dead and dried out beliefs, are uprooted, leaving fertile soil bare for replanting. 

At the time this blog post goes live, we’re in the middle of the global coronavirus crisis. Many of us feel ungrounded and displaced, our brains fogged with confusing and contradicting emotions. 

However… As our daily habits suddenly shift, many of us find ourselves thrown into presence. In the moments we’re not reading the news or checking social media, we become much more aware of the quality of our lives, much more aware of what we love and don’t love, much more aware of our thought and behavior patterns. 

This is a good thing. This self-awareness is the first step towards gentle, intentional change.

Have a practice you want to cultivate in your life? Want to begin to change a habit or a belief? Want to create a new habit or outlook on life for yourself?

If you feel your heart telling you yes, it’s time to begin the intention-setting process. 

I myself have been diving into what I want to plant, both as intentions for myself and as wishes for our planet. 

If you feel ready, now’s the perfect time to GENTLY plant a seed, set an intention, for the future.

Are you ready?

You’ll need a pen and paper, and anything else that makes you feel comfy. For example, you might make some hot tea, light a candle or incense, play music, sit outside, or do anything else that helps you to feel calm.

Take your time getting yourself ready, turn off your phone if you can, and set yourself up in a way that feels relaxing and comfortable. Then begin with step one… 

1. Explore your ideas on paper 

Take some deep breaths. Mentally decide now to give this as much energy as you can at this moment, without rushing through it, as best as you can. 

When you’re ready, pick any of the following journal prompts that resonate with you:

Write for as long as you feel is necessary– 15 minutes is a good place to start, but you can write for as long as you need to.

As you write, try not to think too hard. Just write from your heart without filtering your words. 

Once you feel your writing has come to a natural close, take a break if it feels necessary for you.

Then, when you’re ready… 

2. Feel into your writing

Chances are, you may already know what your intention is by now– the writing simply uncovered it. 

For example, one of my intentions is: Become more mindful of my empathic boundaries and stay true to how I feel, rather than unconsciously taking on others’ emotions.

If you don’t yet know what your intention is, gently ask yourself: What feelings or feeling words popped up more than once as I wrote? 

For example, you may have written that you wanted to feel more peaceful. Or, maybe, you felt at peace or you felt a longing for peace as you were writing. 

Notice which feelings arise for you, and ask yourself: Specifically, how would I like to create more of these feelings in my life? 

For example, at this time, I long for greater self-empowerment. At this time, I hope to plant a seed of self-belief, so that I can finally, truly begin to believe that the work that I do is helpful to other people.

You may have also felt or mentioned anger or frustration as you wrote. If this is the case, you might ask yourself (without any self-judgment): what about this situation frustrates me? What about this situation do I wish I could change? 

Examine what you wish you could change. Is what you want to change within human control? For example, humans can’t change the fact that the coronavirus exists, but we CAN work to become more compassionate and helpful to each other in this time.

If what you want to change is within human control, ask yourself: How can I BE the change I would like to see at this time?

For example, you may set an intention to extend a helping hand to your elderly neighbors more often, even once we are no longer in a time of crisis. 

If you haven’t yet found a clear intention, you may simply need time to sit with it. Try closing your journal for a while and coming back to it in a few hours or days. You might want to meditate or take a walk to think more about what you’d like to create.

Whenever you do land on an intention: ensure that you feel emotionally connected to your intention. You don’t want this to feel like a huge chore. Now is a time for grounding into self-love, not self-punishment. Every time you read your intention, you want to feel good about yourself, not bad!

When you feel that one or more clear intentions have emerged, move onto our final step…

3. Plant the seed

Once you have your seed, it’s time to plant it. 

Write out your intention somewhere you know you’ll see it regularly (e.g. in a planner or on a sticky note stuck to your mirror). 

Once you’ve written your intention, get comfortable again, sit down, and close your eyes.

Take a few deep breaths.

Silently or out loud, repeat your intention to yourself. 

Ask yourself: How will I feel when this intention becomes reality?

Fully visualize yourself embodied in your intention, and sink into the emotions that arise. Allow yourself to sit in this emotional state for at least a few minutes, or longer if you want to. Feelings are our motivators, so it’s important to fully connect to the emotions behind your intentions!

Once you feel finished, be sure to thank yourself for showing up for yourself in this way. This is an amazing way to love yourself in times of confusion. You are using this time wisely by anchoring yourself rather than being swept away in collective fear and pain. 

4. Honor the intention

If it’s helpful for you, try sitting with the feeling behind your intention every single day. This, as opposed to merely reading it every day, will help to keep you far more emotionally anchored in that loving intention.

Remember to congratulate yourself for taking even the smallest steps towards your intention. For example, if your intention was to meditate for 30 minutes every day, and you only did 5 minutes today– don’t beat yourself up! Even the tiniest of steps towards that intention is progress.

Try to engage in your intention– whatever it may be– every day, even if only in small doses. However, if you miss a day, do not beat yourself up. Self-compassion is the best way to get yourself back on track towards what you want.

I hope that this process was a loving and gentle one for you. Thank you for taking the time to lead a self-aware life.

As always, I am here to offer my support and my guidance. If you’re craving support or you want to tell me how this process went for you, please leave a comment or send me an email. I am here for you and rooting for all of your wishes to blossom into reality.

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