The word ‘intention’ gets thrown around a lot these days. For example, I told my husband yesterday that I had set an intention to have my work completed and be out of the office door by 5 pm that day.
There is also the idea of the desire to do something, but lacking the means to accomplish it. ”He had the best of intentions.” Or, of course, ”The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
But there is a deeper, more solemn usage of the word, and it’s that meaning that really grabs me.
I define intention as nothing less than a sacred agreement with the self. It is the voicing of a desire that comes from the core of our being. And it is the foundation from which the teaching of sanctuary rises.
It’s no mistake that Step #1 in my class Seven Days to Sanctuary is setting an intention. Recognizing and voicing this soul-deep desire is the very first thing that we must do in order to create something meaningful.
So while the class is focused on the mechanics of creating a sanctuary space, I thought I would take a moment to talk about why we need to set that intention when we go about creating a sanctuary for ourselves.
An Exercise in Intention
One of the things I learned in the rough times is that my mind brings to me more of what I focus on. If I am unsettled by a bit of bad news and pause to dwell on it, it isn’t long before I begin to notice more and more bad news — even the negative aspects of some of the good news!
Intention is everything, and can be used to turn that focus around.
I’m going to give you an exercise to demonstrate how well this works. The next time you are facing a situation that feels hopeless, and it feels like your mind won’t stop torturing you with negative thoughts about that situation, I want you to say to yourself, “I want to feel better.”
Say it slowly, desperately and with meaning, over and over, and as loudly as you think you need to. “I want to feel better!!” Keep saying it.
This is an intention, and by giving it voice, you are putting the mechanism in motion that will start the process of bringing that intention to pass.
And I want you to notice how long it takes before your mind starts to change the things that it’s bringing to your attention. I want you to notice how long it takes before your energy starts to rise again. Notice how long before you think, “This isn’t great, but I think I can get through this.”
It might be a day, or just an hour, or maybe even a few minutes. But you will feel better. Because you are saying this out loud, your own ears are hearing your voice say those words. Your mind recognizes this, and begins to look for ways that you can start to feel better.
Think about this: nothing about the situation you are facing has changed. Only your thoughts about the situation have changed. Only your ability to see the difficulties you’re facing from slightly higher ground.
Suddenly you have the mental space to breathe, to weigh your options, and to consider the future with a little more equanimity.
And THAT, my dear friend, changes everything.
This is the power of intention. This is the power of our own minds. And this is the power of sanctuary to harness it to make life a little easier, a little better, and a little more beautiful.
With love and gratitude,