Setting an intention is a way of pointing yourself in one direction, toward an important value or goal. It is a way of identifying a quality you wish to nurture in your life. Setting an intention can be done skillfully or unskillfully.
First, lets go over how to unskillfully set an intention. It is not skillful or effective to be rigid or attached to an ideal about your intention. For example, is your intention is to foster ease and self-acceptance, don’t expect to become 100% relaxed or self-accepting after just a few minutes. Be careful that you don’t make your intention, no matter how wonderful or positive, something else on your to-do list or something you must achieve at all costs. Recognize the trap of judging yourself harshly or doubting your intention if things don’t change right away. Don’t fall into the trap of judgment and doubt.
On the other hand, a skillful intention is more like a friendly guide. Acknowledge from the beginning that important changes take time. You, like everyone else, must make the effort to return repeatedly to the goal you seek.
Your intention, to become more self-accepting, for example, is better thought of as a direction you have selected for yourself. The practice you choose is a way to enter on a path moving in that direction. Many conditions and factors are at work as you move along your path. What is important is that you keep moving in the right direction. Being friendly with yourself as you travel the path is vital. Being patient with yourself as you move toward your goal is critical.
You can think of your intention as clear and strong statement of an important value quality, or goal you have selected for yourself. Through the single act of making the statement, you have opened the door for a profound shift in your life.
To act wholeheartedly means to do something with all of your attention and energy. Establishing presence and acting from clear intention will support you in embracing what you do wholeheartedly. In just a few minutes of establishing presence and stating an intention, you are invited to embrace the practice you have selected wholeheartedly. That practice could be studying the AGLs (Aquariana Gateway Lessons), any type of meditation or yoga, affirmations or chants or mantras, prayer, or something else.
You might have to experiment a bit with being wholehearted. Much of what we do in life is done without full attention, or without real commitment to the activity or process, for a variety of reasons. So, as you begin your practice give yourself some room to grow. At first, you might not feel wholehearted about whatever you have chosen to do. You might not even like it much, if at all. That is alright and to be expected. Just continue to do it.
To get the most out of your practice, start with activities that resonate with you, or that seem especially interesting, or are perfect for something happening in your life right now. As you work with the various practices over time, notice yow different ones fit in the different corners and phases of your life.
When you have selected practices that seem to fit, nurture a willingness to experiment with them, without expecting too much at first. Even if you feel awkward, silly, or embarrassed, just acknowledge how you feel and then keep on with the practice.
You might find it easier to be wholehearted if you let go of trying to change anything or make anything happen as you do your practice. This is a paradox that is true of many of the practices you will learn via this work. In the realm of transformation and growth, the more you reach for something, the farther away it can seem.
So let go of any attachment to outcome and just dive right in! Instead of vigilantly monitoring what is happening, looking for changes, or judging yourself, just let go and do it. That way, you are truly acting wholeheartedly and, paradoxically, are maximizing your chances for change and growth.