I just finished a great book, The Intention Experiment, by Lynne McTaggart. As a journalist, she has been following and working with physicists and other scientists to study if and how consciousness impacts life. In this book, she summarizes the results of many experiments showing that, indeed, our intentions can positively and negatively affect our daily and global life. Mind over matter is a little too simplistic of a summary of the studies, but as a healer I often see how a client’s beliefs and thoughts directly impact every aspect of life, from health to relationships, and from finances to the earth’s environment.
However, setting an intention is a little more challenging than just wishing upon a star. Based on the experiments detailed in her book, McTaggart gives some great tips that significantly affected the outcomes of intentions. I’m going to combine her suggestions with my own non-scientific and somewhat biased observations, along with other teachings from healers.
To demonstrate how intentions work, let’s use the metaphor of a balloon.
If you have ever entered a party supply store in recent years, you know that the types of balloons you can choose from are practically endless. The party store in my town has an entire wall numbering up to over 100 types, and that’s not counting all the traditional latex balloons they offer, available in the myriad of colors and sizes they come in as well.
1) This is akin to the first challenge of setting an intention: choice. We have an infinite supply of time and energy at our disposal (believe it or not, this is true, according to me anyway). This follows from my belief that we are, at our essences, eternal, infinite beingness. You may not believe this. That’s okay. Bear with me and join in the fun of experimenting with intention anyway. Even if you do believe this, you may not yet be able to access infinity and eternity in your body. That’s okay, too. Neither can I. Other than a few yogis, mystics, saints and shamans, most of us for the time being are limited to our bodies and 24 hours in a day (and even that isn’t quite true, but moving on…).
However, you still have a nearly infinite amount of choices and options in a given day. You may think your day is “set” and “pre-ordered” for you, given your job or family obligations, school homework, etc. but this is false. You have these conditions because you are choosing them. You can leave your job, relationships, school at any time, if you choose. You remain in them, because you are choosing to do so or at the very least choosing not to experience what would happen if you walked away from these experiences in your life. And choosing anything, anything at all, begins to focus the unlimited supplies of opportunities we have available to us in any moment. You begin to funnel the ocean of infinite possibilities into the pipeline of your life. Or keeping with my initial metaphor: you begin to narrow down the choices of balloons. Maybe a “have a great day” balloon is good for you today. Or maybe just a nice cherry red balloon.
Whatever it is: you choose.
So to set an intention, you must choose from an infinite supply of possibilities, what you want. To not be overwhelmed by this, start small. Make an intention for one day, either today or tomorrow.
2) Now that you’ve chosen what day, choose a specific intention for it: A “have a great day” balloon in silver or white background; Or the cherry red latex balloon in extra large size. So let’s say you’re setting an intention for tomorrow. "Tomorrow I intend to experience peace in all of my relationships."
3) Now that you’ve ordered up your intention, you need to energize it. So just as you would order up your balloon to be filled up with helium at the balloon store, imagine now that your intention you’ve set is fulfilled. What would that look like? Imagine it in your mind as vibrantly as you can. What would it feel like? Imagine this feeling. Feel this feeling. Feel it all the way from your head to your toes. Living in the energy of your intention having already been fulfilled, helps to bring that intention’s vibration into being.
4) Now you’ve got to go outside and let that balloon go! Rather than try to “make it happen,” which is a controlling and therefore fear-based way to go about life, instead play with the universe by sending it out into the sky and seeing what happens. Follow your balloon’s intention as it floats through your day. Observe it. Learn from it.
5) The universe communicates and responds to each of us uniquely. So as you observe and learn how the universe responded to your balloon intention being set free, alter or add, or delete as necessary to any of the above steps as they work/don’t work for you. Repeat and practice. Perhaps continue the same simple intention for several days in a row to get the hang of it and to see what variations occur.
I did this the other day to be my own guinea pig for this blogpost. I set an intention to have a joyous, awesome day and I did! The next day I set the same intention and bam! Everything that could go “wrong” seemingly did go wrong. Nothing had changed with my intention. In fact, I realized I was being tested on my intention: Could I hold a joyous, awesome state of mind despite my circumstances? Yes, I did pretty well and the next several days after continuing to set the same intention, I noticed a shift in the level of energy I was working with and a corresponding shift in circumstances.
Some other tips from scientific experiments:
*Set your intention in the same space every day. A regularly highly positive, energized space greatly impacted the effect of setting intentions.
*The timing of intentions is a little trickier, involving sun, star and planetary events. Rather than look it all up, I just say trust your gut and follow your intuition as to when during each day seems to be the best time to set your intention. It may be different every day and the best time may NOT be in the morning when you get up. Whenever it is, how you feel does impact the effect of the intention so make sure your body feels good and general health is well.
*Before you set your intention, calm your body and increase your mental focus by doing some conscious breathing or other meditative practice such as chanting or drumming that gets you into the “zone.” Also, have a sense of being one with the universe or one with another person if the intention involves that person or your relationship with him/her, helps as well.
*Focus on your heart and on feeling compassion when setting the intention in addition to feeling whatever feeling you believe you will have after the intention is fulfilled.
*Be as specific and positive in your wording as possible. Eliminate no’s and not’s.
*A group intention is stronger than an individual intention so you may want to start a group or ask others to join you in your intention. Make sure everyone is stating the same specific intention.
If the intention you are setting is not working, it may be for the simple reason that while your conscious mind is all set to go, your subconscious mind is saying exactly the opposite. And it is a general principle that the subconscious tends to trump the conscious mind. Seek out friends, healers, therapists, spiritual directors, etc. you trust and ask them honestly where your own blindspots may be blocking you. Energy clearing and breathwork are very helpful in helping you let go of old energies that are keeping you from moving forward.
Many blessings to you as you use your intentions to move into greater creative expressions of your innate bliss!