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Resolutions vs Intentions and why we set them

Have you ever said at the start of a new year my resolution(s) are…

“I want to lose X pounds”

“I want a new job” “I am going to be nicer to my kids”

“I want to travel to X country”

And the list can go on and on…What usually happened? How often did you stick with your resolutions? For most of us that answer is probably…I lasted 2 weeks (if you were lucky!). Why do we set resolutions that we don’t stick with?

Let’s first start with why we want to set resolutions. We identify that something is broken and needs to change and rather than asking ourselves why it’s broken (if you want to loose weight, what is causing you to gain weight, if you want a new job, what’s wrong with the one you have?), we assume that we need to find something new to help fix it. We set out on tedious exercise routines that exhaust our bodies, and look for jobs that are probably exactly the same as the one we have now, it just seems better because it’s not the current one we have (trust me on this one, it doesn’t turn out well).

Most resolutions start with “I want, I am going to, I can…”. They are unclear statements that say we have nothing to do with the outcome. We hope and pray that the universe hears our intention and then helps us to magically do something different. They start on a high and end on a low. Which is probably why we only do them once a year! We forget the high and the low by the time the New Year comes around and the cycle continues on.

Let’s flip that to intentions. What if you started your new year with something like…

“I am healthy.”

“I am living my best life.”

“I have all that I need within myself and around me.”

“I accept the world as it is and myself just as I am.”

“I believe in the goodness of others.”

Intentions are deeper than resolutions. Intentions go within our deepest desires, into our source, and ask what is our purpose. Rather than saying…I want to loose weight, we say I am healthy. Rather than associating a resolution with something that is outside ourselves, intentions go inside and start to work through the things that are holding us back. By saying I am healthy…we are projecting into the universe and taking hold of what we know our future to be. Maybe that means loosing weight, maybe it means your diet naturally starts to change…the way you speak about your body changes…you become grateful for what you have within you and start to cherish what it provides you.

Intentions make definitive statements into the world…I am…I have…I accept…I believe…our subconscious engages in a different way and we allow our internal voice start to tell us what needs to change. Often we have something else we need to address in order for the intentions to take hold.

Take for example wanting to loose weight, or wanting to break a habit. Rather than saying I want to break this habit, we reframe it to say I am healthy and whole, or I am free from my addictions. Once we’ve stated what we want; now the real work starts. As our subconscious starts to move our patterns and behaviors towards being free, we may find old feelings; thoughts and behaviors start to creep up. We usually have something we want to change that became a habit to help cope with something in our lives that was hard, challenging or a form of trauma.

We all have things we’ve used to cope with. We are patterned to protect ourselves from harm. Sometimes we pick healthy habits, sometimes we don’t. It’s when we identify that something is off that we start to break through the patterns. Intentions help keep us focused and grounded as to what we know we inherently want or need. They keep us going, even when we don’t think we can on our own.

In Yoga Nidra, we learn a lot about intentions. We use them in practice to help heal our samsakras (old patterning/behaviors that are engrained in how we think, behave and even what we believe). Sometimes the teacher gives you an intention for the practice, sometimes we ask you to bring your own to mind. This is where knowing what your intention is becomes so powerful. You literally start to live it from the inside out.

We can have many intentions throughout our life. Our primary intention is something rooted deep within us…our lives purpose. This rarely changes. But our secondary intentions can change as often as they need to. As we start to break through our patterns and ways of thinking our secondary intentions may slowly fade, and another one appears. These are things we may set every month, every year, every morning as we awake. You may have more than one secondary intention. Knowing what your intention is helps your consciousness guide you along the path you were intended for.

Doesn’t that sound like a lot more manageable (and transformative!) than a resolution setting process? Want to learn more? Join us for a Yoga Nidra challenge where we learn to set an intention early in the week. Or join us anytime for a Yoga Nidra class where we use intentions to help open our hearts to our greatest potential. Keep learning how to listen to that inner voice deep inside. If you listen close enough, you will hear your hearts greatest desire.

~Jai Bhagwan (may the spirit be victorious)

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