Cultivating Intention

Yoga teachers often use the word intention. The meaning behind it within a spiritual practice runs deeper than the dictionary definition, because learning to cultivate intention in your yoga and meditation practice has positive consequences for your life and well-being beyond the mat.

The power of intention can change a very normal action into a profoundly transformative one. Imagine getting home after a tough day, throwing yourself onto the sofa and mindlessly turning on the TV. You want to relax, but without mindfulness, you’re choosing a method for relaxation which creates more brain stimulation and doesn’t alter the state of your nervous system.

Then, imagine getting home after that same challenging day with the intention to relieve your stress - and support your overall wellness - with a thoughtful self-care practice. You slowly light a candle before you sit down, focus your gaze on the flame, and concentrate on your breath. By doing so you consciously change your state of mind and the activity of your nervous system, and you feel genuinely calmer and happier.

Intention Practice

In yoga, candles have been used in practices to direct attention and develop intention for centuries. Traṭaka is a Sanskrit word which translates as ‘to gaze’. It refers to a meditation technique in which you look straight at the flame of a candle with complete awareness, until your have to close your eyes. Then, behind your eyelids, you see a dot or impression of the candle flame. This stimulates the pineal glad and improves concentration — and as a spiritual practice, it’s thought to enhance the ability to direct energy so that the power of intention is increased.

If you’re working with a particular intention in your life, you can adapt candle gazing meditation to settle your intention deep into your subconscious mind. Write down a short sentence which sums up your intention — it could be a physical or material intention, an emotional one, or something more abstract. When you’ve written the intention in a way that feels clear to you, light a candle. As before, gaze into the flame for as long as you can; but this time, repeat your intention silently in your mind with complete present-moment awareness.

Intention And Clarity

When your intention is so aligned with your personal truth that it becomes integrated with your subconscious, your intuition begins to work from that intention so you can more easily make decisions, choices and actions that support your journey. By cultivating intention, we can create and move in the world from a place of clarity and awareness. We can see where we’re heading and gently move towards what we truly want with focus and confidence.