New year, New You! It is inevitable that at the start of a new year, we want to improve ourselves and put our best version out in the world. Especially after the holiday excess; we are left feeling overindulgent and guilty. Unfortunately, most of us (about 80%) will give up on these goals by mid February. This doesn’t mean you should give up self-improvement and setting goals for yourself! You must simply have a realistic outlook and seek to make changes that are meaningful to you…and start small. Once you have set your goals, you’ll want to safeguard your resolutions by aligning them with your intentions.
Our goals can fall short when they are not aligned with our intention. What is the difference between a goal and intention, you ask? A goal is very specific whereas an intention is more of a feeling; the intention is underneath the goal. Intentions have much vaster space and there is room for creativity and possibilities beyond what we can imagine or create for our life.
For example, “I want to lose 15 lbs in two months.” Come March, perhaps I have only lost 8 lbs. I will automatically feel like I failed. I may keep trying with a feeling of disappointment or I may even give up altogether…what’s the point, right? Well, that depends. What is my intention? “I want to feel healthy and fit.” During the two months I started eating more vegetables, I parked my car further at the grocery store and got more steps in, I exercised 2-3 times a week, and I increased my water intake. I would call those triumphs! Being healthy (intention) can look different from the goal (losing weight). Make sure you recognize and celebrate the small achievements. They will add up!
Connecting with your intention:
Our wisdom can arise from three places: our brain, our heart, and the gut. Wisdom from our brain is intellectual. Our brain recognizes, it gives meaning, and it creates narratives. Our heart wisdom is a feeling. It handles emotional processing, expression of values, and is in charge of interpersonal connections. Wisdom from our gut is a movement. Our gut controls self-preservation, responds to challenges, opposition, and danger.
When we set an intention, it is best to connect to the heart wisdom; you want to connect to a feeling. Connecting to the heart space will guide you free from the ego. As you tap in, you’ll want to connect to a feeling or experience and really listen for “what really matters?”
The practice of mindfulness meditation is a great tool for connecting to your intention. It allows us to pay attention in a particular way; on purpose, it quiets our thoughts (as we simply observe them without getting caught up), and strengthens our capacity to listen to our intuition.
How to connect with your heart-mind & intention:
Read through the steps first then try the practice for yourself using the mini meditation supplied below.
Step 1: Find a quiet space, free from distractions. Take a comfortable yet supportive seat. Either in a chair, on the floor, or on a cushion. There is no right way; see what calls to you. Get comfortable. Get all the wiggles out.
Step 2: You may close your eyes or take a soft fixed gaze (look down your nose) and bring to mind your resolution or goal. Release any stories attached to your why; simply bare witness.
Step 3: Take three deep slow intentional breaths. This will help gather your awareness and bring you into the present moment. Continue to pay attention to your breath for a few more moments as you arrive and center yourself.
Step 4: Gently drop your awareness down to the heart. To aid in awareness, you may place a hand over the heart. See if you can connect to a feeling or experience (love, peace, joy, compassion, forgiveness). You may ask your heart, “What really matters?” Trust that answer is within you…take a moment to listen… Perhaps your intention is to be healthy, to savor moments, or to be more patient, or to be trusting, to feel at ease, or to be more present. See what surfaces for you.
Step 5: Take a deep slow intentional breath in and out. Gather any insights. Slowly guide yourself out with a new sense of purpose and intention for your resolutions and goals. Lift your gaze and open your eyes.
This practice can be done in as little as 5 minutes or as long as 15 minutes (if you have the time). This simple yet powerful mini meditation will help align you with your intention and safeguard your resolutions and goals.
Give it a try today!
Share your experience #AligningGoalsWithIntentions
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Ixchel Muhlberger Hurtado
Licensed Acupuncturist, Vibrational Sound Therapist, Meditation Guide