Are you ready to be true to who you really are? Try setting intentions – these 4 powerful, heart-opening intentions will help guide you on your journey back to yourself.
I feel a delicious flush of energy shiver up my spine, as I sit on my mat in deep meditation.
In pure (and rare) stillness, I absorb the soothing voice of my favourite local yoga teacher.
I feel my heart open, and my breath deepen.
Then he drops a truth bomb – one which explodes in the well of my soul and reverberates through to my core.
It’s a golden nugget of wisdom made up of 4 key intentions to help us bring our yoga practice off the mat, and into our daily lives.
And it’s pretty frickin’ profound.
Why setting intentions is so powerful
Every activity we do requires attention, right?
Even the simplest of tasks, such as brushing our teeth, can only be accomplished if we put our attention on them.
Setting intentions for an activity brings a whole new level of consciousness to it; it brings focused awareness to whatever we’re doing.
The intentions my yoga teacher invited us to set were what he calls the 4 A’s:
These intentions really resonated with me, so much so that I felt called to expand on them in my journal when I got home.
Here’s what these 4 intentions mean to me – and how we can apply them in our lives.
If we want to be truly content in life, we have to acknowledge the way things are.
To face the music, so to speak.
The only way to change a bad habit – such as stuffing our face with sugar treats when we’re stressed – is to become conscious of why we do it; if we lack this awareness, we’ll just continue to indulge in our bad habits on a loop.
This is why yoga has been so instrumental in my own healing – it drew attention to my “why”s.
As I became more mindful, I realised why I was sabotaging my well-being with smoking, alcohol, junk food, emotionally abusive lovers… it was all a misguided attempt to fulfil a deep craving for love.
Once I acknowledged that, I could deal with it (and, uh, choose better strategies to call love into my life).
To set the intention to acknowledge, ask yourself:
- What have I been (intentionally) ignoring in my life?
- Which behaviours do I lie about, or hide from others?
- Are there any bad habits I have that I need to work on?
Try this: next time you find yourself feeling uncomfortable, notice what you feel the urge to do to relieve your discomfort. Get totally honest with yourself and ask, “what need am I trying to fulfil by doing [activity]?” See what comes up.
Once we acknowledge the truth about “why” we behave a certain way, we’re better able to practice accepting “what is”.
Having said that, I struggle to accept things the way they are all the time.
It’s part of being human; we’re constantly striving for more, for bigger, for better.
What I find hardest about acceptance is letting go of control. It’s as though once I accept the circumstances of my life, I feel like I’m “giving up control” over my power to change it.
In fact, it’s the complete opposite; once I accept the way things are – such as the way my body looks naked (a pretty sore subject for most of us) – rather than struggling against it, I suddenly feel empowered to change it (if I choose to).
Acceptance has been key in helping me to finally, finally love myself.
Accepting who I am has helped me show compassion to (and heal) my wounded inner child, and helps me to live from a deeply authentic place.
To set the intention to accept, ask yourself:
- What am I struggling against in my life?
- Why am I struggling so hard against this?
- How might life be different if I could my simply accept this the way it is?
Try this: take a moment to breathe deep into your heart, and your belly. Affirm to yourself , “I accept everyone and everything, including myself, just the way they are”. See how it feels.
Once we learn to acknowledge and accept what’s happening in our lives, we’re then able to practice deep appreciation.
People often talk about how important gratitude is, but they usually forget to mention why.
It’s because what we appreciate appreciates.
The more grateful we are for what we have, the more goodness we attract to us, and the better we feel in our day-to-day lives.
Let’s face it – if (like me) you have access to the internet and a device to be able to read this, you’ve won the genetic lottery, my friend.
On a daily basis, I have to remind myself to remember how unbelievably privileged I am to have the first-world problems I do. Any time I fall into “oh, woe is me, my bloody internet is down”-style complaining, I try to be grateful for the fact that this is my biggest problem right now.
I also find it immensely healing to appreciate all the negative experiences in my life.
I often practice gratitude for my anxiety, for example (despite hating the way it feels), because it reveals to me when I’m taking on too much work, or not maintaining solid boundaries with the people around me.
This practice forces me to focus on what I can learn from so-called negative experiences, rather than simply wallowing in self-pity.
To set the intention to appreciate, ask yourself:
- What am I most grateful for in my life right now?
- What else could I be grateful for, if I really wanted to be?
- How have my “negative” experiences helped me grow?
Try this: in the morning or the evening (or both, if you’re hardcore), take a moment to ask yourself what you’re grateful for. Choose one person, one opportunity, and one “mundane” thing (such as clean water, the sun, or fresh air). See what’s revelaed to you.
Adoration is the cream of the crop; the big-daddy intention which sits on the foundation of acknowledgement, acceptance, and appreciation.
When we adore something, our energy shifts magnificently.
We become capable of including the flawed and imperfect in our adoration (which includes – of course – ourselves, our experiences the people we love, and everything on the entire planet).
To me, adoration is just appreciation on rocket fuel.
The biggest challenge I’ve faced is learning to adore myself – despite the mistakes I’ve made (and continue to make), my often questionable choices, and my physical “imperfections”.
I also find it difficult to adore my life, when there’s so much I’m constantly working to change.
But when we adore our lives, we become the best version of ourselves.
We also transform into the type of person everybody wants to be around – one who radiates contentment, fulfilment, and joy.
To set the intention to adore, ask yourself:
- Are there still parts of myself I’ve been unable to show love to?
- What can I do to adore myself a little more?
- How could I show the people I love how much I adore them on a regular basis?
Try this: breathe into, and out from, your heart space. Set the intention to open your heart; to breathe lots of love into every part of yourelf, and lots of love out to the rest of the world. See what shifts.