The Power of Intention


Around this time of year, millions of Americans scramble to set all kinds of resolutions for how we want to show up in the New Year, everything from working out to saving money. But University of Scranton research suggests that as little as 9% of people actually achieve those resolutions, many of them dropping resolutions within the second week of February. Why such low statistics?
We often set goals too high, too broad, and too many at once rather than focusing on the small accumulative changes that will help us get there. As a result, old neural patterning and behaviors get in the way and shortchange our path to success.

Instead of hard pressed resolutions, why not set active, fluid intentions instead?

Intentions are directed impulses of consciousness that contain the seed form of that which you aim to create. They are the creative power behind all our desires, whether that be money, relationships, spiritual evolution or love. Everything you do-from the lunch you ate or the phone call you just made-has intention. Getting clear on what those intentions are is the first step of helping you become aware of what you're actually creating. Indian sages claim that intentions are at the core of who we are:

“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." -Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Intent has been around for thousands of years, and is thought of as the driving force of creation. In Sanskrit, the word Sankalpa means heartfelt desire, intention, or resolve to do something. It is similar to the English concept of a resolution, except that it comes from even deeper within. This term comes from the Sanskrit roots san, meaning "a connection with the highest truth," and kalpa, meaning "vow." Unlike a resolution or goal, which is a personal need to accomplish something, the concept of sankalpa turns inward to connect with the heart's highest intention.

We all know what we want, but we may not be clear about what we need. Rather than using the intellect to formulate intentions, we can tap into these heartfelt desires from our least excited state, which helps us see where those intentions might serve evolution as a whole. Once clarity is gained, moving from the thought to the feeling can be a powerful way to charge those intentions.

How would more financial prosperity allow you to serve others better?

In what ways could greater physical fitness expand the expression of who you are?

The next step is detachment. Let go and trust Nature's ability to organize the details. This is key, as it prevents us from clinging to rigid attachment and allows us to see unexpected connections. But this doesn't mean we sit back and wait for the rewards. Intention needs conscious attention and engagement, which is why the final step is to take action. Consistently. Where are those daily opportunities to bring those intentions to life? 

As we practice living with intention, what we're doing is expanding our awareness and sense of fulfillment, which allows for more frictionless action. It also allows for more freedom.

"If you live intentionally, the day surely comes when addictions to sensation, power and security start to lose their foothold. Addictions get replaced by attachment. Attachment gives way to preference. Preference is followed by choice and subtle intention and letting go. The highest state, to use the phrase of the great Indian philosopher Jidda Krishnamurti, is choiceless awareness, in which the right response to every situation comes to you as it happens. This is the state that wisdom traditions call total freedom." -Deepak Chopra