Mindfulness Primer: Intention

This insight is part 6 of 7 in the series Mindfulness

So the question is: How do I “accept what is” AND “drive change”? Answer: Mindfulness. This series of posts is designed to introduce the key concepts to this paradoxical approach to empowerment. Today’s topic: Intention.

So far on our journey to mindfulness, we have explored how to integrate presence awareness and acceptance using EDL meditation. We also took a first look at the importance of foundational integrity. Today we continue our discussion of integrity as it applies to the process of identifing an overarching intention for our lives.

We can think of an intention as a sort of “mission statement” through which we filter decisions both significant and mundane. Intention empowers us to choose most skillfully, especially in those moments where we are unclear about what to do next.

Intention is an extension of integrity, which is why it was important to address integrity first. Once our thoughts, speech, feelings, and actions are in alignment, we are then primed to identify an overarching intention for our lives that aligns with our values and informs the choices we make.

While there are no real “right or wrong” answers when it comes to setting an intention, there are some key indicators signaling that you have identified one that will help you take life to the next level. For the purpose of this primer, I’ve identified four of the top indicators to help you in the process of selecting an apt intention.

First, an overarching intention sets us up for an experience of success at every turn. As such, it should be founded in discovery versus achievement. In this way, the only factor which decides success or failure are our own feelings about the result. Because it is an intrinsic measure, it is something we have significant capacity to effect.

For instance, my current intention for my life is “to fully explore, experience, and express creativity and insight.” Only I can decide whether or not my decisions are supportive of that intention. If I’m not living up to that intention, and I’m not enjoying that experience of not living up to that intention, then I am empowered to change either the intention or my behavior.

Next, An overarching intention for our lives helps us make choices when we are unclear about what choice to make. It helps us move past uncertainty and arrive at a decision that aligns with our integrity. Knowing there is no “right or wrong” choice, we rely on our integrity to inform us on what feels most right in that moment. If we do not end up happy with the results, that is an indicator that perhaps there are still some conflicts that need resolved amidst our thoughts, speech, feelings, and actions, or that our intention is not aptly aligned with our values. In this way, even a “less than ideal” outcome holds the capacity for refinement and enrichment.

Also, an overarching intention brushes the dust off the lens through which we see our lives. Everyday situations come alive when approached mindfully. Regardless of how many times we have performed a task, there is always something to learn. Usually we think of adventure as doing something new, but I have found equal if not more adventure in simply doing something old in a new way. An apt intention engages curiosity in every situation, and helps us look for what is different about this time than other times.

Lastly for now, an overarching intention for our lives opens up new possibilities, partly because we are not intent on needing one specific outcome, but also because it quiets fear and helps us step in the direction of discovery. Even if we fail to reach a specific goal, we will discover something new about ourselves and the world simply by stepping in the direction of that goal in spite of fear or uncertainty.

In tomorrow’s final installment, we will take a succinct look at how presence awareness, acceptance, EDL Meditation, integrity, and intention all fit together within the framework of mindfulness to provide us with a powerful, though paradoxical, path to empowerment.
 

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