Intentions: What are yours?

A discussion about intentions can open many doors to such a very broad topic. When I wanted to explore this topic I came upon a thought-provoking article by Ed Halliwell in the wonderful web site www.mindful.org . (Click to go directly to the full article). He starts off by looking at the difference between goals and intentions. We are in a goal-driven society where we are expected to achieve certain milestones such as completing college courses, getting a promotion, buying a house, and so on. But how do these goals co-exist with our intentions? Do the goals drive us forward or create tension that holds us back? Should we make a mindfulness goal or an intention?

Here is Ed’s deceptively simple sounding answer:

“When we make mindfulness a goal, however, we turn it into a commodity, the benefits conditional on our having to “get it.” The implication being that we don’t currently have what we need—there is something missing, and we might miss out. This is a recipe for tension since we are struggling to attain this goal directly, rather than through creating the conditions for it to happen through grace. mindfulness a goal, however, we turn it into a commodity, the benefits conditional on our having to “get it.” The implication being that we don’t currently have what we need—there is something missing, and we might miss out. This is a recipe for tension since we are struggling to attain this goal directly, rather than through creating the conditions for it to happen through grace.”

https://www.mindful.org/meditate-with-intention-not-goals/

I was particularly moved by the idea of creating the conditions to allow something to happen through grace. We can have an intention to create the space in our lives for mindful moments without setting a goal of 20-minute meditations every day (which is stress-inducing since we know we will struggle with trying to squeeze in 20 minutes for ourselves). But an intention doesn’t give us free reign to just say “I intend to…” A true intention is made with thoughtfulness and genuine desire. Another pithy quote from Ed’s article:

Intentions come from inside, whereas goals are external. In connecting to an intention, we don’t have to look elsewhere for satisfaction—what we desire is already here as a seed within us.

Intentions can be supple and can shift as we gather new insights and experiences. They are already within us; we just need to awaken to them.

With gratitude to the author Ed Halliwell

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