Using Intentions to Manage Your Mind

For this blog, Soul Projects, I want to provide useful context that is actionable and helpful. For all posts, I want to leave you with something you can do to better your life. In all cases, I want to enjoy the process of writing, as this is a fun Soul Project for me. So, I have a lot riding on every post I create.

This sort of expectation setting is something I excel at. I like to decide, in advance, what kind of experience I am going to have, and then set that intent. For today: I intend to have fun with this. I intend to produce something useful. I intend to love the content I create.

I use intentions for all parts of my life, because I prefer success. I like when things go my way. I enjoy a good outcome.

Intentions, I have found, help me to see the good outcomes that often get lost when no one is looking. That slide by as mere happenstance because everyone is looking for something bigger. That fail to gain any attention because you are looking for something else.

Intentions, then, help me to see. They help me to focus my mind on that which I want. They help me better articulate, and notice, what I want. They also help me gain clarity on what I want in any situation.

My intentions are always set for what I want. I suppose I could use them to look for what I don’t want, but that seems like a waste of energy to me. My path, I have found, is to seek out what I want.

I am tempted here to say that we are all on that path, but I have only a data point of one, so I am limited in my evidence. Nonetheless, based on my observations, we all seem to be on a path seeking what we want and holding varying beliefs around the propriety, achievability, and goodness (or rightness) of what we want.

These three ideas seem to be the most common blocks people have to their wants: Is it ok to want what I want? Can I achieve what I want? Is it ok for me to have wants?

These three questions, I have noticed, bog down many people who are interested in spirituality. There is this myth that spiritual people want less than the rest of us. I disagree. I have found that as I opened more to my spiritual side, I wanted more from life. I wanted more peace, love, joy and satisfaction. I wanted good solutions and satisfying answers. I wanted someone to deliver on the promise that we are all unconditionally loved. So, my expectations increased as I embraced my spiritual side.

What also increased was my capacity to be happy in whatever situation I found myself. I had an inner knowing that I was fine with whatever happened external to me, but I never stopped having wants. I never said, well, now that I know I’m a soul, there’s nothing more for me to do. Instead, I started using intentions for every situation where it mattered to me how it went.

Which is most of my day.

I prefer feeling good so my go-to intention is “I intend to feel good today.” If I am going into a meeting or experience that is new to me, I say, “I hope this goes well for me.” If I am feeling fear or afraid, I say, “Help me relax into this new experience.” Each of these intentions help me to see the situation I am in differently. I see them as code, for my mind, telling myself what to focus on, or what to allow in. It’s a simple way to navigate life and I have found great success from using intentions to help me craft my own experience.

Isn’t that we all want? To feel a little more in control of a life that often can feel like it is slipping through our fingers. To feel a bit more like the Universe makes sense and has our collective best interest at heart. To be a bit more in the driver’s seat even as we accept our lives, and ourselves, as it comes.

That’s what I want. I use intentions to help me feel like I am doing my part. Life may serve me things, on occasion, that I do not want, but I will not allow that to deter me from showing up each day to say what I do want. I will not allow the lack of knowledge on my part as to why bad things happen curtail me from expecting good things to happen. And for that purpose, I use intents.

If you are new to setting intentions, start with a small notebook and make one intention for each day. You might say, I want to feel confident today. I intend to notice what goes well for me. I am interested in feeling good today. Whatever idea suits you, write it down.

When you get to the end of the day, look at your intention and jot down every way that intention came true. Capture any moment, no matter how small. Close the notebook and thank yourself for taking a step to change how you think.

This sort of work re-patterns you in ways that have provided me outsized results. I now notice moments throughout my day and catalogue them in my Log Book, which serves as a living reminder of the good things that happen to me.

Intentions need not be formal, or use specific words. I have found success with nearly every combination of I want, I intend, and I will. All these help me to set the table to have a great day. All of these help me manage my mind, so that I am focussed on my wants, which as I said are many.

Creating intentions is a fun past time. A boring meeting could start with, I want to find something to laugh about in this meeting. A difficult conversation could begin with, I intend to make it through without using an expletive. A trying person could be met with, I intend to exit this conversation after 3 minutes.

These may seem silly to you, but intentions are part of the foundation of Practical Spirituality. When you finally own your role in managing your own mind, you can begin to use your mind to work on your behalf. Which is what intentions do. They set in motion your mind so that it better focuses on the good stuff versus the problems.

Mind management is about taking responsibility for your own thinking, and then leveraging that thinking for what you truly want. Which I have found usually centers on some form of peace, love, or joy. Nearly everything I want fits into one of those three categories. So now I look for those feelings on the regular.

You too could use intents. They would help you identify your personal wants. They would cause you to gain clarity for every situation. And, they help your mind have a task to do.

If the word intentions is off-putting to you, you can call them instructions, and you wouldn’t be wrong. You could call them prayers, if that made you feel good. You could even just call them ideas, and it would have the same effect.

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