Given all that I have attempted to learn in my long life, all that I have hopefully learned, all that I have applied to my life’s path to a greater or less extent, there have been two most important precepts that I keep close to me: the first is that living in the present, in the NOW, is the most powerful guide to an enlightened life (see The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle); the second precept is that setting intentions if one of the strongest forces we have at our disposal.
The power of intention and staying in the now are two precepts that go hand in hand – you can’t have one without the other – as the song lyrics tell (but that song was talking about love and marriage and I’m not so sure about that nowadays). It is through intention in the present that we can achieve success in all aspects of our lives. For most people, the operative words for getting things accomplished and living a happy life is “goal-setting.” But goals are different from intentions: goals are for the future and are long term as in “I want to study medicine” or “I want to travel the world.” It is my contention and the contention of enlightened men and women that the importance of setting daily intentions is what jettisons us toward accomplishments and fulfillment both personally and professionally. Actually, daily intentions provide the ability to internalize our goals and finally achieve them.
You see, intentions are tangible. The human mind uses intention to gather all our conscious and unconscious thoughts together to find solutions. This is the lightbulb moment – the one that turns on over your head when a good idea presents itself. This is the moment that the seed of inspiration is planted and a great idea grows.
You know as well as I do that we are mostly all over the place all day in our thinking. Focus is difficult. There are so many distractions in our environment, we probably aren’t at our best very often. The mind has to focus and the only way to accomplish that is by having clear intentions which directs our physical and mental energies in the direction of goal achievement.
I teach the concept of practicing intentions in yoga class. I see students in yoga class on any given day and they are all over the place in action and in thought.They wriggle, they look around, they don’t listen. I can say over and over again to find a focal point in the room (head looking to the front) and students still don’t respond. I say it another way: quiet eyes; quiet mind. No response. No intention.
Of course we have a capacity to handle a multitude of thoughts. You know how thoughts can bombard our minds all at the same time and we get paralyzed by the chaos inside our heads. And even the best of intentions can get derailed by conflicting thoughts or doubts. It’s amazing anything gets down with that “white noise” in our heads.
There is only one solution but it takes practice and commitment: clear the mind of the loop of garbage in/garbage out by learning how to quietly the mind through meditation -emptying the mind of your thought for a period of time, or at the least, not attaching any importance to your thoughts, any emotion to your thoughts, and sit in a moment of stillness even if it is for a minute or two. The negativity and doubt will dissipate for a time. When it returns, back to meditation. Try this every day and intentions will become clearer and the power of that intention will manifest itself.