BLOG | Live an intentional life in 2018 | Upwell Health Collective
With a new year comes the opportunity to start fresh and lay the foundations to live your life aligned with your heart’s deepest desire. Setting the tone for your year and living a more purposeful is much easier than you think. And it all starts with just a few little words.
What is an intention?
As a yoga teacher, I will often encourage students to set an intention or sankalpa for their practise at the start of a class. I explain this intention as being a feeling they wish to first propagate on their mat and then take out into the world. It has been my experience that most yogis come to the mat to restore balance to their lives, so setting an intention is really about invoking a feeling or emotion they feel they need more of. Examples here might be love, gratitude, forgiveness or acceptance.
Setting an intention is essentially setting a tone, or theme for your experience on the mat.
Often, I will ask students to repeat their intention to themselves three times, silently, as though its already happening. During the class I will also guide people back to their intention, so that they are given every opportunity to truly embody it.
An example of an intention that you might set in a yoga class is a short statement in the affirmative, such as “I am open, I am safe.” Or “I am capable, I am confident.”
Setting an intention like this may just be the encouragement the person needs to try a more complex pose they haven’t tried before, or to release an area of their body where they know they are holding a lot of tension or emotion.
Why set an intention?
Yogi Bhajan, the late spiritual teacher who introduced Kundalini Yoga to the United States, said: “The most powerful way to heal ourselves is through the words that we say to ourselves.”
So…say it, believe it and it will be so. Setting an intention gives you something to always come back to. It keeps you on the straight and narrow. When you set your intention from the very depths of your heart and live your life accordingly – you are ultimately living a more purposeful life.
Here are some specific ways you can live a more intentional life in 2018:
#1 Set your tone for the year on New Year’s Day
You could argue that what you do on New Year’s Day sets the tone for your entire year. And so, this means spending this day in such a way that it reflects how you want to live your life in 2018. This might involve limiting your alcohol intake on New Year’s Eve so that you can wake up on New Year’s Day fresh as a daisy. Incorporate some movement into your day – maybe a walk outside or a gentle yoga class. Eat a hearty breakfast and do something that grounds you: perhaps a trip into nature or spend some quality time with the people you love. Starting the year with the feeling you have your feet firmly planted on the ground will build a solid foundation for growth, opportunity and rich experiences.
#2 Set your intention for the year and remember it
Find some time on New Year’s Day to sit quietly and think about what you want for yourself in 2018 and importantly, how you want to FEEL. Starting with a feeling will help you to set an intention for your year. For example, if you want to feel “stable” in 2018 then you might consider a positive affirmation for yourself like “I am strong… I am capable.” Or if you want to feel “enriched” then your sankalpa might be “I am exactly where I need to be.” Once you have your heart’s intention for 2018 then write it down so you don’t forget it. Keep it on the fridge, next to your bed and in your car. Repeat it to yourself every day so it transcends your unconscious mind. It’s when this happens that you begin to lead your life with intention.
#3 Set life goals themed to your intention
Now that you have your intention, now it’s time to set some specific goals that relate to it.
Setting goals is about action and inspiring change in your life. For example, if you decided that your intention in 2018 is “I am strong… I am capable” then some specific goals that help you to manifest those feelings in your life might include some personalised exercise physiology sessions to help you re-build your physical strength or some restorative yoga to help build your emotional resilience.
When it comes to feeling more capable, setting goals around filling in any current gaps in your knowledge or understanding might also help. For example, maybe you will aim to read one book each month for the next 12 months or enrol in a suitable training course or workshop.
Be sure to set meaningful and realistic goals so that you don’t end up lamenting that you didn’t achieve them. Take baby steps, if you achieve one goal on the road to living your intention then tick it off the list.
Remember to write your goals down. Keep them close, along with your intention for the year and regularly come back to them to see how you’re tracking.
#4 Make life decisions based on your intention
In the early days of living your life with intention you will need to consciously make life decisions that align with your heart’s desire. If your intention is to feel strong and capable, then perhaps binge-watching episodes of the Keeping up with the Kardashians isn’t your best life choice! At every impasse, ask yourself “does this nurture my intention?” Soon, this will become second nature and before you even realise it, you’re living your life according to your intention. Remember, everything in moderation… so it’s okay to fall off the rails every now and then. But always remember your heart’s desire and how good it feels to be true yourself and what you really want.
So, my suggestion to you is to spend some time early this year thinking about your heart’s deepest desire. Sit quietly and decide how you want to FEEL in 2018, set your intention and then just a few achievable goals to support it.
You will be amazed at how quickly your intention starts to infiltrate every aspect of your life just by letting it. Without thinking about it, you will start to make decisions for your life aligned with your heart’s deepest desire. And what could be more purposeful than that?
Lydia is Upwell’s lead yogi who believes wholly and fully in helping people to reconnect with themselves and live a more purposeful life.