Discover Your Deepest Intentions with Mindfulness - dummies

Discover Your Deepest Intentions with Mindfulness

By Shamash Alidina, Joelle Jane Marshall

You may wonder why intention is so important in mindfulness. Well, the origins of the word give a clue. ‘Intention’ comes from the Latin meaning to ‘turn one’s attention’ and so intention is about pointing your attention towards something, and the reason for doing so.

Imagine a surgeon making an incision in someone’s chest with the intention of helping to make the patient better. Now imagine a murderer making the same incision. The action is the same, but the intention is quite different — the intention is everything in this case.

Therefore exploring your own intentions is central for increased mindfulness. Clear intentions help you to engage more fully in the practice of mindfulness and move in your desired direction.

Here’s a great visualization that helps you to discover your deep core intentions for practicing mindfulness. Make sure that you have ample time to do this exercise (at least 15 to 30 minutes), so that you go deep into it:

  1. Find a comfortable position.

    You may be in your favorite room at home, sitting on the sofa curled up with a blanket, or perhaps in the bath! Wherever you feel calm and peaceful is perfect.

  2. Take a few deep, conscious breaths.

    Remember to breathe in slowly through your nose all the way down so that your belly expands and hold it for a few moments before slowly breathing out through your mouth. Notice the sensation of your breath entering and leaving your body. Doing this a few times may begin to relax you. Then just breathe as you normally do.

  3. Close your eyes gently if that feels natural for you.

  4. Check in with your body.

    Shift and move around till you find the most comfortable position for you today. Take your time — there’s no rush. Let go of any tension you feel.

  5. Imagine a place that you find peaceful.

    It can be somewhere you’ve visited, a place you make up or a combination of the two. Take your time, but after you decide, stick to that place. It can be in nature or indoors, with other people or on your own. You decide where you feel most calm, secure and serene.

  6. Become mindful of what you can see in this peaceful place.

    Notice the actual tone of the colors, the shadows, the distance of the scene from you. Pick one object for a few moments and really notice it — for example, if you’re at the beach, really notice the colors and shells on the sand near you. Enjoy looking around in your peaceful place.

  7. Move on to hearing the sounds in your peaceful place.

    Notice the quality of the sounds, how they arise and go back to silence, and their volume and pitch. Immerse yourself in the experience of these sounds.

  8. Continue in the same way, noticing scents, physical feelings in your body and imagine yourself eating something to really notice tastes.

  9. Ask yourself the following question: ‘What do I hope to get from mindfulness?’

    Don’t try and force any answers. Just ask the question and see whether any thoughts, feelings or images arise for you.

  10. Allow some time to pass and then ask yourself: ‘What do I really, really hope to get from mindfulness?’

    Let the question drop from your head, into your heart, as if you’re asking yourself something deep within your being.

  11. Go from this inner place back to the outer world when you’re ready.

    Slowly take a few deep breaths, have a stretch and gently open your eyes if they were closed (to avoid tripping over the cat and ruining your peaceful vibe!).

Write down your experiences and observations. What did you notice? What happened when you asked yourself what you hope to get from mindfulness?

Whatever answers you come up with may be your deep intentions for mindfulness. Keep them handy in your purse or wallet or perhaps stick them up on a wall or on the fridge where you see them regularly. If nothing comes up for you, not to worry. You’re probably just a different type of learner.