Maybe you have been in a situation—like the start of a yoga or meditation class—where a teacher nonchalantly asked everyone to set an intention, only that request didn’t entirely make sense to all of the participants. These days, we toss around this idea of intention-setting very casually, but the truth is that it can be an incredibly powerful tool for manifesting our dreams. Understanding why is helpful, not only in motivating us to make use of this practice, but also in increasing its potency.
Prana Follows Focus
One of my most beloved teachers, Dr. Claudia Welch, often says that, “prana follows focus.” It’s become a bit of a mantra in my life, because it reminds me that it matters where I place my attention. If prana follows focus, then wherever I am placing my attention is naturally attracting life-force energy and being magnified. The more unshakable my focus, the more life-force energy gathers around whatever it is I’m focused on. Honestly, this can be either a blessing or a hindrance; it all depends on where my attention is—and how intently it is focused there.
The Power of Choice
What this means is that, at least to some degree, each of us has the capacity to direct our life-force energy, and we have moment-to-moment choice about where to channel it. This is precisely why intentions are so powerful. Consciously setting an intention creates an intense level of focus around what it is that we are intending, which magnetizes prana, and in turn amplifies the potency of our dreams. For example, when we concentrate intently on what we most want to bring into our lives (or into a particular moment), our attention will naturally channel life-force energy toward that very idea, which can’t help but support its manifestation. But let’s say we’re playing something traumatic, hurtful, or infuriating over and over in our minds. Inevitably, prana will coalesce around those thoughts, reinforcing rather unsupportive patterns in the mind-body matrix.
Please Feel Your Feelings
Let me pause for a moment to say that, in no way am I suggesting that one should avoid negative emotions. In fact, I would argue that all emotions need to be fully felt in order to be released—and that not feeling them is a much more problematic strategy than acknowledging them and allowing them to move through. All emotions—pleasant or unpleasant—are intended to move, to flow… not to lie stagnant in our minds and bodies. That said, fixating on a powerfully-charged emotional trigger tends to be rather counter-productive. For me, a more effective strategy has been to acknowledge the emotion (without judgment), connect with my breath, observe the sensations in my body, and to notice the naturally dissipating energy of the emotion. When I’m able to do this, it allows me to more swiftly return my attention to what I most want to create so that my life-force is energizing my dreams rather than my experience of suffering.
Bridging Mind and Heart
In Ayurveda, the mind is said to live in every cell and tissue throughout the body, and it is rooted in the heart, as is prana vaha srotas (the prana-carrying channel), which carries prana throughout the body. Therefore, our intentions will be far more powerful if we take the time to ground ourselves in our bodies, open our subtle energetic pathways, and initiate our intentions from the heart-space rather than from the intellect. When we purposefully focus on awakening prana in our bodies in order to support our intentions, we can magnify their impact. Here is a step-by-step guide to setting intentions in this way.
Intention-Setting: Five Steps to Creating Miracles
This process can be applied to any type of intention, be it large or small. Perhaps it’s an intention for a new year, a new day, or a specific practice (like yoga or meditation). Or it may be an intention for a particular conversation, meeting, or business offering. This entire process can be done in five to ten minutes, but if you want to spend longer, you certainly can—and doing so will likely further amplify the power of your intention. Regardless of your physical posture, be sure that your neck and spine are straight, as this will foster alertness and receptivity in the physical and energetic bodies.
The next steps are a combination of surrender and action. Trust is essential. You have named your intention. You have invoked support (from your own life-force energy and from the unseen world). Now, learn to trust the divine timing of it all. Yes, continue to hold your intention close to your heart, focus on it as often as you like, and take steps toward bringing it to life. But also keep in mind that over-efforting generally causes more restriction than flow, which tends to hinder the natural unfolding that wants to emerge. Instead, stand in the open, creative energy of the divine feminine and believe that your dreams will come into form. Your job is simply to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and to delight in the journey.