The power of intention

I’m currently listening to a series of talks by Gil Fronsdal on the eightfold path.

I’ll be honest – I’m probably Gil’s biggest fan :D.  I absolutely adore his talks, and am grateful beyond words for what I have learnt from listening to them.

I’m currently up to the 2nd in the series of talks – this one on Right Intention.  And this – along with Right Speech – are my 2 favourite areas of Buddhism.

I’m endlessly fascinated by the effects that both of these areas can have in our lives.

During this talk Gil recommended focusing on our intentions, and how we want to be in this world.  In both large and small ways.  And how we can incorporate it into every are of our lives – from what we want to achieve long term, to how we want to be when we are in the grocery store.

Since listening to this talk (several times in order to take it all in), I’ve listed the following as my deepest intentions:

♥  Parent with calmness, gentleness, softness, understanding, empathy, love and kindness.

♥  Use my free time to learn and apply the teachings of the dharma in my life.

♥  Practice kindness as a way of life.

♥  Savour life and live life slowly and with purpose.


Further to deciding our intentions – and asking ourselves not just once, but continuously  to dig deeper beneath our automatic response – Gil recommended giving our intentions great attention whilst meditating.

He gave the example of people who mentally set an “inner alarm clock” to the time they want to wake up the next day.  And the fact that without giving it thought through the night, they do wake up at exactly that time, or just before.  And I have experienced this phenomena frequently in my own life.

So last night I followed his recommendation, and whilst calm and centred during meditation, I gave my intentions great focus.  Although I let them come to me naturally without having to think about them.  And the 3 that came up last night were:

*  Follow the eightfold path.

*  Find opportunities for kindness.

*  Parent with gentleness and calm.


I found it to be a really interesting experience.  And this afternoon, for no other reason that I could explain, I felt very calm and relaxed and centred.

My son was in a really foul mood, it was pouring rain (and we have a long way to walk) yet even those things didn’t affect my feeling of calm.  And I must admit I was proud of how I managed to stay equanimous even whilst dealing with 7 year old tantrums.

And although I would not generally describe myself as a laid back parent, I was surprised with my response to the pouring rain.  At first I tried to keep my son under the umbrella, and dry, but then I stopped trying to control him, and gave him the freedom to enjoy it.  I let him run ahead in the rain, laughing and skipping and just enjoying life.  And I must admit it felt GREAT.

Even to the point where I encouraged him to take off his shoes and socks and jump in the puddles :D.  This had him quite intrigued – as a child with autism he doesn’t generally welcome things that are outside his usual routine.  However he loved it.  He was running home jumping in puddles and yelling that it was the best day ever.

And I just felt so calm and happy – to see him enjoying life like that.

I can’t wait to explore this area of setting intentions further.

And I’m interested to know – do you set daily intentions?  If so, what are they?




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11 responses to “The power of intention

  1. I confess that I am not a very disciplined or consistent person, and while I do often use intentions, this approach is more centre stage at some times than at others. And while setting intentions – both immediate and long term – is a very fruitful technique, at times I find that letting go and allowing life to “do” me (a sort of more selfless, “zen” approach) seems to work well too. 🙂

  2. I am finding a renewed interest in Buddhism after reading Tenzing Palmo’s beautiful book ‘Cave in The Mountain’. I think you would enjoy it. 🙂

  3. I spend about 15 minutes each morning, setting intentions for my day (a mini-meditation). The most important ones – to connect with my soul’s guidance and asking that every thought I have, every word I say, and every action that I take is in the best and highest good of all.

    • That are wonderful intentions kdkh – thank you so much for sharing that with me. Do you find that setting intentions makes a difference in your day? I’d love to hear your experiences.

      • I can’t tell you the powerful change that happened when I set my intention to serve as an instrument of the best and highest good of all. Everything jumped into high gear.

  4. Love this post, it really makes me see what I need to add to my own meditation. I am kind of like a blank slate when I meditate. Probably because I don’t know what the heck I am doing. I like this idea of intentions, specific ones, that provide guidance through your day. Thanks Meg, I will attempt to implement this .

    • Thanks so much for your comment Jon!! I must admit my meditation is a work in progress too. Sometimes I get concerned that I am not doing it “right”. However I think any form of meditation is ultimately beneficial as it allows us to connect with ourselves. So there is really no right or wrong. And I think intuitively we know what we need.

      • I agree, all I know is that I missed it one day, because I was running late and I was so messed up all day long that I haven’t missed since. 🙂 I am always willing to try new things though.

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