What are your dreams for this year? What do you truly, deeply desire? Perhaps you are dreaming of a new career, an opportunity to travel, or more time with your family. Maybe your heart longs for a romantic relationship, the chance to express your creativity, or greater health and well-being.
The starting point of every dream is an intention. It is the creative power that fulfills all of our needs and desires, whether for money, relationships, spiritual awakening or love. When I decide to buy a birthday present, wiggle my toes, or call a friend, or write this article, it all starts with intention.
The intention always arises in the non-local or universal mind, but it localizes through the universal mind. Everything that happens in the universe starts with intention. The sages of India observed thousands of years ago that our destiny is ultimately shaped by our deepest intentions and desires. The classic Vedic text known as the Upanishads declares,
“You are what your deepest desire is.
As your desire is, so is your intention.
As your intention is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your destiny.”
Our destiny ultimately comes from the deepest level of desire and also from the deepest level of intention. The two are inextricably linked.
An intention is a directed impulse of consciousness that contains the seed form of that which you aim to create. Like real seeds, intentions can’t grow if you hold on to them. Only when you release your intentions into the fertile depths of your consciousness can they grow and flourish. The spiritual Law of Intention and Desire lays out the five steps for cultivating and fulfilling your intentions with effortless ease.
1) Get Clear on Your Intentions and Desires
Your dream is more likely to come true if you first see it clearly in your mind.
What would fulfill your needs at the deepest level? What would allow your soul to complete its destiny? Develop a clear vision of what you want and be specific with your intentions so that the universe has a clear structure to work with. At the same time, you don’t want to be so locked into your vision that you miss the different and more wonderful response that may present itself. Although it is important not to be attached to a particular outcome, formulating an unambiguous intention is essential.
It’s better to write your intentions in positive language rather than in terms of what you don’t want, because the important part of formulating intentions is to generate that field of awareness that feels spiritually complete, whole, and content. That state will naturally organize the means through which whatever you need will be manifested. If you are generating a field of lack, worry, and fear, then that is what will attract and manifest. That is why if we want peace we become that peace; if we want love, we become the love within us; if we want abundance or health, we contact and become that part of our Self, which is always content, happy, and healthy. By gently allowing our intentions to drop into that state of silence and joy, we put ourselves in the best position for those intentions to manifest.
As you consider your dreams, become clear about who you are and what would truly make you happy. Set aside external notions of success, such as labels of status, money, possessions, and social connections. This requires self-referral, or being in touch with your internal reference point that is the soul, and not your ego. It is at the point of self-referral that we are in touch with our destiny, rather than the ego which is directed by things and people outside of us.
For every intention, ask yourself two questions: 1) “How will this intention serve me?” and 2) “How will it serve everybody I come into contact with?” If the answer to both questions can be distilled to true happiness and fulfillment, then you are on the right track. Then your intention, together with surrender to the non-local mind, orchestrates its own fulfillment.
2) Establish Yourself in a State of Restful Awareness
Most of the time our mind is caught up in thoughts, emotions, and memories, and it’s easy to fall into the grip of our ego’s fears and demands. Beyond this noisy internal dialogue is a state of pure awareness that is sometimes referred to as “the gap.” This is the field of pure potentiality, which gives rise to everything that manifests in our physical universe. It is important to spend time each day quieting the mind and connecting to the timeless awareness and peace that is our essential nature.
The most powerful way I know of to enter this space of expanded consciousness is through a regular meditation practice. In meditation we experience our true Self, which is pure awareness, pure potentiality, and pure being. When we’re rooted in the experience of pure potentiality, our intentions can spontaneously manifest with effortless ease. Meditation takes us beyond the ego-mind into the silence and stillness of pure consciousness. This is the ideal state in which to plant our seeds of intention.
How to Meditate
There are many ways to meditate, ranging from “simple” breath awareness to guided visualizations, chanting, and various mindfulness techniques. The most important practices are those that take us beyond the conditioned thought-patterns of the mind, allowing us to access the quiet place between thoughts.
The practice that we teach – Primordial Sound Meditation – is a natural, effortless way to experience this inner silence. It is a practice that makes use of timeless Vedic mantras, which are sounds, based upon the elementary quantum mechanical structures of existence. The word mantra comes from the Sanskrit term mantrayate, which means “that which takes away the mind.” When they are used properly they permit the active level of mental functioning to settle down to a fundamental non-dual state. While mantras are certainly not the only way to go beyond the mind, they are invaluable gifts the ancient seers have handed down to us to make access to the Self easy.
3) Release Your Intentions and Desires
Through the practice of silent meditation we establish a deep baseline level of awareness from which intentions can manifest. The basic idea is to first settle down to a quiet state of simple awareness. Then gently introduce our intention and let it sink into that silence. This is releasing the intention into the gap.
Keep in mind that there are meditation practices where it is appropriate to entertain intentions during meditation and others where it is not appropriate. When the purpose of meditation is to give one the experience of pure consciousness, simple self-referral awareness, then we shouldn’t deliberately interject intentions. In that meditation we are reacquainting our self with its essential nature and we should not mix that experience up with other thoughts and desires. But meditation practices that aim to develop our facility of creating from that abstract field of intelligence require us to introduce intentions at that quantum level in order to manifest qualified states from that unqualified level of awareness. Those practices help us learn to manifest our desires from the level where the cosmos manifests and sustains the entire universe.
Once you’re established in a state of restful awareness, release your intentions and desires into the quiet field of all possibilities. The best time to plant your intentions is during the period after meditation, while your awareness remains centered in the quiet field of all possibilities. After you set an intention, let it go – simply stop thinking about it. Continue this process for a few minutes after your meditation period each day.
Repetition isn’t all that important. You don’t have to go around saying, “I want a new car” over and over again. But your mind must be clear that it wants the car. Contrary to popular belief, wanting something really, really, really badly doesn’t help. Craving and desperation are obstacles, in fact. Clarity is a quieter, more subtle state. It feels right, or even inevitable, to have a particular desire, and the desire is consistent with who you are. (I had a friend whose father despaired all his life that he never got to sing at the Metropolitan Opera. I asked my friend if his father ever learned how to sing opera. The answer was no, which says something about the lack of fulfillment in this case!) But of course all kinds of desires are fulfilled without perfect clarity.
4) Detach from the Outcome
Relinquish your rigid attachment to a specific result and live in the wisdom of uncertainty. Attachment is based on fear and insecurity, while detachment is based on the unquestioning belief in the power of your true Self. Intend for everything to work out as it should, then let go and allow opportunities and openings to come your way.
Intention is much more powerful when it comes from a place of contentment than if it arises from a sense of lack or need. Stay centered and refuse to be influenced by other people’s doubts or criticisms. Your higher Self knows that everything is all right and will be all right, even without knowing the timing or the details of what will happen.
The entire spiritual path could be described as learning to detach or let go, but letting go all at once isn’t possible. This is a path of many small steps, a process of replacing automatic reactions with deepened awareness. Be gentle with yourself and take one step at the time.
5) Let the Universe Handle the Details
Your focused intentions set the infinite organizing power of the universe in motion. Trust that infinite organizing power to orchestrate the complete fulfillment of your desires. Don’t listen to the voice that says that you have to be in charge, that obsessive vigilance is the only way to get anything done. At the level of spirit, everything is always unfolding perfectly. You may not fathom the whole picture, but clearly there’s a grand design. You are included in that design, and there’s no need to struggle or try to force situations to go your way. It is only your ego-mind that believes that you are an isolated individual trying to survive in a hostile world. In truth, we are all spiritual beings.
By surrendering to Spirit, you end the struggle, freeing yourself from fear and doubt and releasing the obstacles your ego has created. The outcome that you try so hard to force may not be as good for you as the one that comes naturally. This doesn’t mean you have become passive. You will feel more energized with wider possibilities than you do when you think that you have to accomplish everything by yourself. You simply take the actions that you know to take while staying open to the opportunities, clues, and synchronicities unfolding around you.
You have released your intentions into the fertile ground of pure potentiality, and they will bloom when the season is right.
In the beautiful words of a Vedic seer: “I am the immeasurable potential of all that was, is, and will be, and my desires are like seeds left in the ground: they wait for the right season and then spontaneously manifest into beautiful flowers and mighty trees, into enchanted gardens and majestic forests.”
Focus Your Intentions
In the first few days of 2011, you may be feeling energized and ready to embark on new challenges – yet at the same time you may be unsure about how to get started and where to focus your attention. This exercise will help you explore what you truly want and choose the area of your life that you’d most like to transform or enhance.
Consider the following aspects of your life and write down everything that you’d like to experience or create in each area. Writing (or sketching, listing, or otherwise putting your thoughts into form) is a powerful first step in clarifying what you really want.
Be as specific as possible and don’t limit yourself. You are planting your seeds in the fertile ground of intention. Let go of any thoughts of what you “should” want. Your heart knows your deepest desires, so give yourself some time to meditate, become still, and connect to the authentic voice of your true Self.
Material Abundance: What do you want on the material level? Your own house with a garden? Write that down. Do you want to pay off a loan or take a vacation? Also consider your desires for sensory gratification – sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell.
Relationships: Write down all your desires for your relationships – your romantic partner, friends, children, parents, co-workers, and any others.
Spiritual Awakening: What would nourish your heart and soul? Do you want to go on a meditation retreat? Start a journaling practice? Write down the spiritual intentions you have for yourself.
Personal Goals: What areas of your life would you like to nurture this year? Do you want a new intellectual challenge such as studying a language or learning new software? Would you like more time to play or develop a hobby? Write down what you truly want.
Community: What do you want to contribute to your neighborhood, country, or the world? Consider how you might use your unique talents to serve others.
Health: What are your health goals for the New Year? Do you want to learn to meditate? Exercise regularly? Get more sleep? Are you ready to let go of emotional pain from the past? Write down everything you desire for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Keep this list with you and look at it once or twice during the day as well as just before you meditate.
Let Your Intentions Flow
In the yogic tradition, we have seven major chakras or energy centers running along the axis of our spine. Each chakra governs a specific aspect of our life and is associated with a sound vibration and a color. The third chakra, Manipura, is located in the solar plexus. Manipura is the seat of our power and it enables us to manifest our intentions and desires. The color for this third energy center is yellow, and the sound vibration that clears and enlivens Manipura is Ram. In this exercise we will focus on opening our third chakra so that our life energy can flow freely and our intentions can be fully expressed in the world.
Begin by closing your eyes and taking a few long inhalations and exhalations, allowing your mind to settle. After a few minutes of quietly focusing on your breath, visualize a beautiful golden light filling the area of your solar plexus. Take a deep breath, and on the exhalation, say Rammmmmmmm aloud in one long syllable.
Feel the sound vibration and notice the energy flowing effortlessly through your body, radiating light and warmth into the universe beyond. Continue breathing deeply and repeat the sound Ram on each exhalation until you feel infused with a feeling of strength and possibility.