"The power of intention." Ever heard of it? Probably. It's a phrase that seems to be at the tip of the tongue for many spiritual teachers, life coaches, and wellness gurus these days. The expression itself is easy enough to understand, but lately, we've been wondering about what "intention" really means. What gives intentions power, and how do we get the most out of them? To help us wrestle with these questions and identify our own intention for the month ahead, we spoke with Kelsey Patel, a leading meditation teacher, reiki master, intuitive healer, EFT specialist, yogi, and spiritual empowerment coach.
Read on for Patel's insightful wisdom on why intention has the power to change your life.
Photo:Cavan Images/Getty Images
To begin, Patel explained the concept in layman's terms. "Setting an intention is activating a part of your receptivity. If you were to go out in the day, and not have set any intention or created any type of prayer or manifestation of how you want the day to go, then you're getting on a bike with no direction. This can be great sometimes because you're allowing fate to happen to you, but if you know that you want to get somewhere, the power of setting an intention is going to help you get there."
Okay, so picture where you want to go. Easy enough. But how does intention help get us there? "An intention is so powerful because it slowly shows people how incredibly powerful they are. Oftentimes people allow the day, or the week, or the month to happen to them, and when you set an intention, you are activating your receptivity and manifesting and putting out that which you intend to attract and call into your life, and that is the power behind it. I've seen this in my own life and the lives of hundreds of people who I work with," Patel says.
Identifying Your Intention
If you're stumped on what your intention should be, Patel has some suggestions. "I always work with the triad: mind, body, spirit. I remind people that setting intentions is not just about tangible, physical things, it's also about how you operate internally, your internal wealth," she tells us.
So does that mean I can't manifest those new shoes? "It could be something tangible—I don't want to discredit the fact that tangible things are part of human life and the way we live," she explains, but "the idea is to first check in with mind, body, spirit, and really accept and access what it is that you are seeking, not just blindly throwing things on the list."
Still unsure? Here's an example: "Your intention could be to have an amazing meeting with your boss, and to have a new project that you're excited about come to your desk," Patel says. Others might be broader—to take more time for your physical health; to focus on a relationship; to save money for a new car.
Once you have your intention in mind, it's time to announce it to the universe. How do you go about that? "When I really want to connect for the whole month, I'll have a bath the night before—and kind of this whole night of nourishment and self-care—and then I'll sit with a pen and paper and just check in with myself, feel the energy of the upcoming month, and write down what my intentions are."
"Part of that ritual is finding a few moments of gratitude for things that have happened in the month you're completing. Gratitude is a very important part of the intention-setting process because if you're always just wanting and wanting and wanting—and not finding the peace or the gratitude in your life—you're in a constant state of scarcity," Patel says.
While setting monthly intentions sounds doable enough, it's also important to remind yourself of them weekly and daily. Patel likes to reconnect to her broader monthly intention each Monday, and also set a couple of goals, or intentions for herself for that week. A couple of actionable items will help you "start to feel connected to that larger momentum that you have," she explains.
She also checks in with herself daily. "Every morning before I wake up, I place my hand on my heart for just a few seconds or a few moments, and I breathe, connect to myself, send love to myself, and send love to the day. Then I set an intention for my day."
Sigh. Reading that just feels calming, doesn't it?
This Month's Collective Intention
Armed with newfound knowledge and deeper curiosity, we decided to create something for THE/THIRTY community: a collective monthly intention. Of course, everyone’s needs are personal and specific, but as we talked through this topic together, several themes kept popping up among us.
So here is our intention for the month:
This month, I will bring balance and space into my schedule to create time for the people and passions that matter most to my soul.
We may share a common intention, but we're excited to see how this manifests differently for each of you.
This post has been updated by Sarah Yang.