Working with Intentions - Episode 2
How to find your intention and why having one is useful
Welcome to the Moving into Spirit Podcast!
I'm so glad you're here for the second episode of this brand new podcast! I'm really excited about this project and happy you are here joining me for this new episode.
This week I thought it would be useful to talk a little bit about how you can work with intentions, and why they can be so helpful and useful to you, particularly when we look at meditation and being mindful throughout our days.
With that said, let's begin! And again…thanks so much for being here!
Feel free to download this episode and take it with you wherever you may go; use the practice that I'll include here whenever you like!
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Recorded Thursday, August 17, 2023
So we begin, with intentions…I like to call them intentions in my work with clients, which is useful because an intention is a mantra, a mind tool. It's something we can give our minds to do while we are attempting to focus, to sit in silence, in meditation.
In using an intention, I like to say intention because this is what we are intending of ourselves, intending to be - as in presence when we are sitting quietly attempting to meditate.
Sometimes it's a nice and gentle and thoughtful way of saying - hey let's work with this mantra here, a mind tool.
An intention is something we are setting for ourselves in terms of a word.
Sometimes it is something we are aspiring to be or become, or something we'd like to cultivate a little more intently, a little more deeply within our lives.
I like to use this in terms of talking about anxiety, worry, that mind-running, mental energy that often times is very difficult to stop on its own, or to pause, or to adjust, or change direction.
For example, what is something you say to yourself all the time? Perhaps it is…
I am so worried right now, I'm so nervous, I'm anxious, I'm so sad, I'm feeling so unhappy, I am worthless, I am hopeless, I'm I'm lazy, I'm bored (bored often comes up with our children; sometimes as adults we like moments of boredom; for me bored moments are just fine!).
This is our running narrative.
Our bodies and our minds turn to this intention of laziness, boredom, worry, sadness, worthlessness…these negative intentions are absorbed by the body, absorbed through emotion, and then they're sent back out again into the world.
Ultimately, at our core, in our hearts, what we feel in our guts when we're truly silent, quiet, enveloped in the goodness of God, of our spirit…we know deep down that these negative narratives are not our identities; that the anxiety, the worthlessness, the sadness, and so on…those intentions are not what we were intended to be, or not what is intended to persist in our lives.
We were made for love, for goodness, for giving, for peace, and so on.
What I like to call intention, to work with your intention…needs to be found in the form of a word.
When I'm teaching, I ask - what are you feeling right now? - and if it's negative, find the opposite. And that opposite is the intention. That is what we will choose to cultivate.
So, if I'm thinking - oh my goodness I have a test coming…my child is having a first sleepover…whatever it may be - I'm anxious, I am so nervous, I am so stressed, or overwhelmed - those are the negative intentions, and we are intending this into being.
Instead, let's go to the opposite and then pair this intention with breath.
A lot of times I will like to work with the mantra or the intention of “calm,” and so instead of saying “I am nervous,” pause and remember you can choose to change your intent, change your feeling, to change yourself…this is what you have control over, this is what you can change. And…
You can change your verbiage from “I am anxious” or “I am worried” to “I am calm.”
A Brief Practice
Let's pause for a moment and see if there's anywhere in the body we can get or find sensation.
If I'm trying to gauge how I'm feeling at any given moment, if a word is not coming to me naturally or easily, I might sit for a moment, collect myself through breath, see what I can do to calm my mind, and say to myself - yes I'm feeling worried in this moment…and I'm going to change this intention, or this mind tool, from “worry” to “calm.”
I find the best way to work with intention or mantra is to pair it with breath.
If you'd like to try, you might find yourself in a comfortable seated position.
Take a moment just to notice, take a moment to bring some awareness into the body, perhaps collect some awareness at the heart center, some awareness around your lungs and breath.
Perhaps bringing some attention to anywhere in the body that might feel a little bit of discomfort.
You may notice some tension in the areas of the shoulders, the upper back, maybe the lower back, jaw…and just breathing here…
Next we're going to work with intention, so take a moment to inhale through the nose and exhale out, also through the nose if that's comfortable to you, or out through the mouth if that feels more natural.
Inhaling again through the nose, exhaling out…
On the next inhale, silently repeat the words “I am” - inhaling, saying softly in your mind “I am” and exhaling with the word “calm.”
Inhaling with the words “I am”… exhaling with the word “calm.”
When you're working with intention, when you're sitting for meditation, and you're breathing at your own speed…allow the inhale and exhale be a nice slow flow…or allow the exhale to be longer than the inhale…or match the length of the exhale with the inhale.*
Continuing the practice of… inhaling with “I am” and exhaling with “calm.”
When you are ready, take a full, complete breath.
Pause and notice if there has been any difference in the energy moving throughout your body, any difference in how your mind, your head, your heart, your lungs, your gut area may feel…Maybe there is no difference at all, and that's perfectly fine.
We're not looking for any right or wrong answer here.
Working with intention, having a mantra, gives us a nice, gentle, easy way to build into developing a meditation practice.
I work with intention all the time…inhaling with some words, exhaling with some words…whatever intention I might need in any given moment is where I can go.
If I need to make a shift in some sort of negative feeling, sensation, or emotion I can change it in any given moment…and so can you.
Working with intention is such a beautiful gift that each of us has access to.
Intention Language Choice
I like to teach “I am” on the inhale, and then this positive word of your intention on the exhale.
You might be thinking - I'm so anxious, I'm nervous - and want to work with peaceful - “I am peaceful” - which is a wonderful intention to work with.
However, you might also look at using “I am peace.”
“I am peaceful” and “I am peace” have very different energy and intent behind them.
So you might work with “I am peaceful” on one day and “I am peace” on the other. Then, take the time to reflect and note any differences in energy, sensation, or emotion you may have experienced.
A your core you are peace, you are calm, you are love, you are enough.
Our Creator intended us to be these things. It is our minds and the physical sensations in our bodies that get the best of us.
Bring yourself back to “I am,” and allow your intentions to be set free in Body, Mind, and Spirit.
In closing…and maybe a little homework!
I leave you with this…
See if, over the next week, you can practice working with an intention.
If you're moving throughout your day and in any given moment you feel some sort of negative emotion or feeling that's just uncomfortable in your body, go with it…become aware of it…identify it…see if you can place a word or a name to it if it's negative, if it doesn't feel good, if it's not who you know you are at your core. Change it and find yourself an intention that will work to cultivate your core essence.
Pair this intention with breath and see what you can shift inside, and out!
I hope this little bit of information and this very brief practice sets you up for this wonderful world of intention, working with intention, pairing it with breath to change your emotion, sensation, how you're holding your body, how you're feeling and moving throughout this world.
Once more, thank you so much for being here! I'm so thrilled to be able to launch this project for you!
Let me know if you have any questions or if there are any topics you would like me to cover on future episodes.
My intent is to release a new podcast episode every Friday, so if you'd like to learn more about something or if you'd like to inquire about working privately, one-on-one as yoga or meditation student, please feel free to reach out through the Substack platform, or you can find me through Facebook, Instagram, or my website (elkmountainwellness.com). Reach out in any way that works best for you, and I look forward to meeting with you again next Friday!
1) the exhale should never be shorter than the inhale;
2) a longer exhale has the ability to calm the nervous system.
Listen to the “Intention Practice” from my book, Fear and Musings: A Journey from Anxiety to Peace Through Poetry, Prayer, and Practice…right here, click below!