There was a time in my life when I infused almost everything I did with a wish, an intention, a resolve.
Making the bed was a prayer for freshness, or rejuvenation, or a new start.
Turning on the faucet was a resolution for cleanliness, clarity, or flow.
Taking a bath was a ceremony for release and renewal.
Preparing meals was done while singing mantras for health and healing.
Leaving the house became a ritual of asking for magic to surround me in all aspects of my world, and then waiting— expecting—it to show up. (And it would.)
Every cup of tea I poured had a wish blown into it.
I set intentions so often it was as if doing so was as good as making them manifest instantaneously.
If I had had you over to my house, we would have no doubt sat down together on the floor, beside the cloth outspread, which served as my table. I would lift the slim handle of the cast iron teapot in my hand, pour your small cup full of tea first and then mine, and sit cross-legged with my palms outstretched and hovering over our cups.
I would close my eyes and make my intention, stating it in the form of a positive statement beginning with, “I will,” or “I intend,” or even, “I am now…” Then I’d open my eyes and let you have a turn.
These days I don’t do that anymore; at least, not with house guests. For one, I rarely have visitors coming for tea up here on the mesa. But also, like any practice, once one begins to draw back one’s energy from it, it diminishes.
Photograph by Brea Fisher
A personal practice remains vital for as long as one’s attention is focused upon it; let up on the energy you put into something and it will begin to fade from your experience.
That’s not to say I’ve let go of my love for setting intentions. Anyone who has taken a class with me knows that every lesson I teach begins with listening to the body, asking what it needs, and creating a personal resolve around that need.
So when the New Year comes around, one would assume I would be rearing to go on the intention setting custom.
This isn’t necessarily the case.
I like to set intentions as I go about my day, and tend to lean into them with a little more vigor during the full and new moons; however, I usually feel a certain pressure when it comes to setting the big New Year’s Resolution, which is supposed to last me an entire year.
If you feel pressured into setting an intention for the New Year because it’s customary, it takes what is supposed to be a personal resolve and turns it into something you do out of obligation to the public domain.
Obligatory actions lack the personal power that is born out of moving from your heart.
In other words, don’t make a resolution to lose ten pounds simply because that’s what we do at this point of the year.
Not unlike other New Year’s Eves, this year I didn’t have a resolution in mind for the year to come. I was still in the reflection mode.
Plus, I always have a sense that the year’s end hasn’t quite come upon us, since the Chinese New Year occurs weeks after the date we celebrate our New Year, here in the States. The Chinese lunar calendar dictates the date for each specific year, and this time the first new moon in China falls on January 28, 2017, making it the first day of the Chinese New Year celebration.
Here in New Mexico, the new moon occurs on January 27 (5:07 PM MST, to be exact.) This gives you 27 days more to listen into yourself and hear what it is you need to focus your energy on in the year to come.
Take your time when it comes to setting your intentions; they’ll be more meaningful that way.
I also highly suggest getting less specific when it comes to choosing a resolve for an entire year.
One person decides coffee is no longer part of her morning routine, resolves to eliminate sugar from her diet, and declares that she will stop buying produce if it comes in plastic packaging.
Another person decides she wants to be more deliberate in her choices toward health and consciousness, and see what it feels like to eat with awareness.
Feeling into these two modes of resolution, which feels better to you?
I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that if I were Person A, I would feel a whole lot of pressure to stay on track, which would make the whole thing not fun, which would set me up for falling off track at some point.
Person B up there, in her general-intention glory, would be free of failure— there is no point of the intention at which she could do wrong.
One of my spiritual teachers, Alora Cheek, offers the method of New Year’s themes, rather than resolutions. When she switched over to choosing a theme, “Gone was the list of things [she] was excited for... worried over... pressured about... failing at..... and then, finally, ashamed of because they were incomplete.”
And, since I know from experience how extraordinarily gifted she is in the field of intuitive guidance for those who appreciate practical application, I highly recommend going to her for help in discovering your own 2017 theme.
Stand in Wuji Stance:
With feet parallel and soles relaxed,
Arms at your sides,
Head suspended by a thread that reaches beyond the sky,
Sit down on a large energy ball (or an invisible exercise ball) about an inch below your tailbone (this will straighten your spine, allowing it to follow the line of your central axis).
Close your eyes, or soften your focus, gaze turned inward.
Look inside. Listen to your body. Be a witness for what it feels like to be in your body right now.
Acknowledge the sensations as they come up. Release judgments. Let go of the opinions you have about those sensations.
Simply collect the data on the basis that each sensation is neither good nor bad.
Now ask yourself,
“What do I need?”
“What do I need to be the best version of myself I can be this year ahead?”
“What do I need in order to feel I am this best Me?”
“What do I need?”
Give it time. Relax into listening. Wait to receive an answer— one that feels charged to you— significant.
When you get an answer, create a personal resolve around that need— around that feeling. Set your intention in the form of a brief, general, positive statement that begins with “I will,” “I intend,” or “I am now…”
State it three times mentally.
Imagine what your life would look like having attained your goal. What does it feel like?
Now commit to allowing the space for your intention to manifest in whatever ways are best for you. Commit to being flexible around your intention. Commit to taking notice of the ways— small or large— in which your intention is becoming a reality for you.
Life answers our prayers every time we send them out. It’s just that most times we miss them because they come in a form that is unexpected.
You never know how something may show up in your life, but if you decide it must go a certain way, you limit the possibilities of it ever getting to you.
When we hold too tightly to the details of how something will come into our lives, we hold ourselves back from the magic of Life, essentially closing ourselves off from alternate ways that something may become manifest.
Flexibility is the key to letting Life transform your wishes into reality.
When it comes to setting intentions, whether they be while washing your hands or while dreaming of the year to come,
Stay general with your goals;
Get specific with the feeling you want the goals to inspire within you; and
Stay open to letting the goal come to you in ways you can’t even imagine.
May you be deliberate, open, and flexible this 2017 year, and may those aspects bring you exactly what you need to be the best version of You you can be.
How do you feel about New Year’s resolutions? Do you participate in the custom? I’m wondering what your experience is around intention-setting. Let me know in the comments below!