Thoughts create everything: from our mood and how we see the world, to all that we see in the world.
Intention is present moment oriented, engaged in the process of becoming. It is flexible and possibilities for outcomes that meet our needs and desires are greater because we aren't holding onto a fixed idea of what the outcome needs to look like.
Working from intention is from an emerging and aspiring space rather than from a rigid and forced space. It's like the difference between impressionism and paint by numbers. Impressionists are working within the parameters of beginning with a rough idea for an image or scene--something that captures them. They're not exactly sure how the finished product is going to look, but they're actively engaged in the process and curious about the emergence of the final image. They are busy mixing colors that feel right in the moment, dotting some here and some there. And while it may look chaotic in the process, the outcome, when reflecting from a distance, captures the essence of the image and can sometimes be quite a surprise.
With a paint by numbers exercise, the outcome is fixed. The colors are chosen and we may nervously try to keep the paint inside the lines, creating distress in the process. If we do go outside the lines, we feel we have failed. We are disappointed and maybe angry at our self, maybe carrying this attitude through the rest of the process. We know what the picture is supposed to look like but if we've made mistakes along the way, that may be what we notice most.
While the preference of approach is up to each individual, I've discovered a more rich and fulfilling process from working from intention. And since we can't hold onto anything anyway--even those reached goals--for me, engaging in the process moment by moment offers more opportunity for happiness and pleasure.
Besides which, there are more opportunities for me to feel joy than my mind can conjure up and that's the beauty of living from intention--I'm not limited to my mind's capacity--there is room for grace and the divine mystery. (Which always seems to surpass my mind, anyway!)
We can use a loving kindness style practice for affirming our intentions for ourselves and community. In the spirit of well wishing and really affirming these aspirations in our hearts and minds, repeat these phrases (or those of your own) that capture your highest aspiration for yourselves, your loved ones and the community you live. We can even include the four-leggeds and wingeds that live among us--the whole natural living system:
As you close the practice, take some silent time to feel the essence of your intentions come alive in your body. Maybe a new tingling, vibration or resonance becomes apparent as you rest with these. Whatever it is, as you begin to move on with your day, feel that you are living these intentions in all you do. Stay alive, alert and open to the moment, connected with your heart.
JoAnn Saccato, MA is a mindfulness teacher, author, life coach, educator, and consultant in Northern California. She is author of Companioning the Sacred Journey and the forthcoming Mindful and Intentional Living: A Path to Peace, Clarity and Freedom