A New Year’s Intention

This is the time of year when many people make New Year’s resolutions. With our new calendars, new journals, and new appointment books, it makes sense to think of new beginnings.  Often these resolutions come in the form of losing weight, getting to bed earlier or drinking less. New Year’s Resolutions, however, often lead to frustration and feelings of failure, and we may find ourselves making the same resolutions year after year.

I have found that setting an intention is much different than making a resolution and much more successful.  Rather than being oriented toward a future goal, setting an intention is a practice that focuses on how you are being in the present moment. Your focus is on the ever present now in the constantly changing flow of life. Resolutions, however, are focused on the future. Will I stick to my resolution? Will I be happy then? An intention also has more trust and openness. Not knowing how or when it will manifest gives us more freedom to let it happen in unexpected ways.

I begin the process of setting my intention for the New Year by taking an honest look at what is important in my life at the moment. I think about what is calling to me and where I want to devote my time and energy. Next, I make a commitment to align my worldly actions with my inner values. Of course, this is easier said than done. Nevertheless, these important first steps require time, honesty and introspection.

Reflecting upon your intention may help you feel better about yourself and happier with the process of change rather than making you feel like a failure because you are not living up to yet another idea of how you should be.  A resolution of how you should be only incites your inner judge to rally and come on line with more grueling judgments about yourself.  I also believe that when setting an intention it not only benefits me, but will ripple out and make the world a better place. This belief is an important ingredient in my desire to keep my intention and honor its ability to manifest.

When my daughters were younger, I found myself struggling with being more patient with them. They always seemed to be moving too slowly for me or not doing what I told them to do such as picking up their toys, going to sleep, or getting dressed to leave the house. I came to realize that I didn’t want to be rushing them and not be present to this part of our lives together. During this phase of my life, my intention was to cultivate patience. As an intention, it was something to move toward, rather than to accomplish. Therefore, when I found myself rushing the girls, I didn’t consider myself a failure. Rather, I continued to know that I wanted to be present to our lives together, so patience continued to be my intention. I began to look at ways that would help me grow in this direction.

When I set an intention, I also keep it simmering in my heart, the same way I cook stew or sauce on the stove all day. I keep in mind that any worthwhile accomplishment does not occur overnight.  When my intention is patience, I am mindful that it is a process. I am reminded that I may be experiencing great change on the inside even though I see little change on the outside. Now I realize that perhaps I need to be more patient with myself, and since patience is my intention, not my goal, I don’t give up if I feel nothing is happening.

The Buddhist tradition suggests that through meditation, wise reflection and moral living, your ability to act from your intentions blossoms. It is called a practice because it is an ever-renewing process, and it leads to flow rather than accomplishment.

I don’t have small children anymore and I’m not always patient, but I have been told that I’m a patient person. New ways to practice patience have appeared while waiting in the grocery store line or being put on hold while on the telephone Setting this intention years ago, has allowed me to move in the direction that I had hoped for.

Dharma Wisdom columnist Phillip Moffitt writes that there are only two things you are responsible for in setting your intention. First, he suggests that throughout each day, you ask yourself if you are being true to your deepest intentions.  Second, if you’re not, start doing so immediately as best as you’re able. By doing this, you are remembering yourself and grounding your life in your heart’s intentions and moving a step toward finding true freedom and happiness. I wish you a Happy New Year, that you find clarity in setting your intentions, and then give yourself the gift of moving in that direction.

Peace and warm regards,

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