Clarifying Your Intentions for Mindfulness

By Joelle Jane Marshall

It is likely that you are interested in mindfulness because you have heard that it can help manage your anxiety. As well as managing anxiety, mindfulness also has a range of other great benefits that you can enjoy, such as better relationships, greater emotional awareness, stress reduction, better overall wellbeing and feeling calmer and more peaceful generally.

It will be helpful if you think about what you want to get out of mindfulness and how you are going to practise it. Intentions work hand in hand with mindful attitudes to help you if you encounter difficulties or struggle with certain aspects of the practise. For example, if you set an intention that you would like to have greater emotional awareness and less anxiety and you are willing to practice every day for at least ten minutes, you will have more chance of sticking to it because you have set an intention.

If you are unsure of what you fully want to gain from practising mindfulness, you may find it difficult to get into the routine and the habit of engaging with the mindfulness exercises totally. It’s similar to starting a new exercise programme with a fitness coach or instructor. The instructor makes a plan for you and you follow it, knowing what you have to do each time and knowing what you want to gain from it whether it is losing weight or improving fitness or something else. If you randomly turn up at the gym with no clear intention of what you need to do or what you want to achieve, you are unlikely to stick at it for very long.

Paradoxically, the actual practice of mindfulness itself is not about achieving anything. There are no real goals in mindfulness, only what is apparent in your present moment experience. However, you can still set an intention for the benefits you would like.

It is important to note that setting an intention to rid your brain of all anxious thoughts for the rest of your life is going to be impossible and is not how mindfulness works. Mindfulness works by accepting, allowing and letting go. These anxious thoughts and feelings may still arise from time to time, but by practising mindfulness you will have a better understanding of how they work so you can manage them better in the future and their control over you will diminish.