Meditation Can Strengthen Your Intentions

Setting goals and envisioning your heart’s desires is a common practice at the beginning of each new year. Perhaps you, like millions of others, have made a New Year’s Resolution. For those of you who did, how’s it going? If you’re noticing it’s starting to waver, you are not alone. A University of Scranton research study states that for all the good intention, only a tiny fraction of us, a mere 8% in fact, keep our New Year’s goals long term. Willpower is simply not enough for most of us.

So what’s the secret of those who do succeed? Forbes Magazine reports that two steps are key in manifesting a desire.

  1. Keep the intention simple & keep the list short.
  2. Stay Focused.

In other words, set small, specific, attainable goals and keep your eyes on the prize. Choose one thing, then commit to that for 21 days. 21 days is the generally agreed upon amount of time it takes to significantly establish a new habit or thought pattern.

Of course, obstacles and challenges arise attempting to thwart our commitment.
Getting distracted is one of my personal obstacles to meeting my goal. I simply forget in the midst of competing priorities and daily demands. Thus, I find it helpful to write my resolve down in some fun colorful way and then post it in a conspicuous place where I will read it every day upon waking and just before I turn out the light at night. I need to keep my commitment active in my mind as competing priorities frequently pop up. As soon as I’m aware that I’m not noticing the reminders anymore, I rewrite and then post them in a new spot.

Another aide to manifesting a resolve is to incorporate it into a meditation practice. How so, you might ask? Long ago, a friend shared some wisdom that his father gave him upon his graduation from college. He said: “Son, the secret of a successful life is simple. Focus, you win. Scatter, you lose.“ I’ve pondered those words many times over the years and have seen the truth within my life and my meditation practice. Simply put: that which I practice consistently, I get better at.

This is especially true when making lifestyle changes to improve one’s health. It takes commitment and focus and I would add Support. Support in the form of recommendations by health care providers, friends and family. The company you keep, is much stronger than will power. Get a buddy to go on walks with, experiment making healthy meals with, and start a mediation practice. You’ll be amazed at how much these will help in attaining your goals.

There are many ways to meditate but most instruct you to focus on some object or “mental anchor”. One of the easiest things for me to focus on is you’re my breath flowing in and out. It’s always with me and it gives my mind something to concentrate on while circumventing my monkey mind from wandering into old patterns and mental chatter. It has a calming effect. When my breath is steady and calm, I feel more present. When I am present, I make better choices – including behavior and lifestyle changes needed to support my intentions.

Here’s a short meditation to try for yourself… in 10 easy steps:.

  1. Put aside all distraction. (phone on silence, computer screen off, etc.)
  2. Sit comfortably and sit up tall. (Slumping leads to snoozing)
  3. Softly close your eyes.
  4. Scan your body, make adjustments needed to be more comfortable.
  5. Take a deep breath in, then let it out as a sigh.
  6. Softly anchor your attention on each inhalation and exhalation for 5 to 6 breaths.
  7. Think of something you sincerely want in your life (breathe only clean air – i.e. stop smoking, eliminate processed foods, walk a mile a day, meditate for 5 minutes each morning, be more patient and kind to your kids/spouse/etc..)
  8. Dial in your intention until you can clearly imagine it. Feel it. Be it- as if it is already true. Focus on this for 30 seconds. If your mind wanders, simply start again.
  9. Make room for the gentle unfolding of wise silence within. End the meditation with a short statement of gratitude and affirmation. For example: “I choose health and vitality.” Or simply “Good job (insert your name).”
  10. Transition gradually and quietly back into your day.

Remember: what you practice, you strengthen.