Beginning a meditation is a bit different than beginning any other daily habit. For instance, if you were to go for a jog, all you need to do is put on your jogging clothes and head out the door. Meditation on the other hand is a little different. Meditation is not a static process that you rinse and repeat. Instead, it’s something new to explore every day. The way you set your intention for your meditation, before you get started, can completely change your experience.
Different Experiences, Same Technique
Depending on your intention, you can have a completely different meditation experience, even if you’re using the same meditation technique. For instance, take the basic meditation of just focusing on your breath.
If your intention is to develop attention, then you’d gently block everything else out. Any time you find your mind wandering, you’d kindly bring yourself back to the breath. Over time, your brain learns to automatically bring your mind back to focus, even when you’re not meditating.
Now, let’s say your intention is to learn about how your mind works. Perhaps there’s one thing you want to focus on – for example, you’ve been feeling stressed, and want to see exactly how that manifests in your mind. So, you sit down. You use the same technique of focusing on your breath. Whenever you notice thoughts arise, you gently bring it back to your breath.
However, when you notice stressful thoughts arise, you might spend a little more time observing those thoughts. What patterns do you notice? How does the stress arise? How does a thought turn into the emotion of stress? How does that manifest in your body?
Then, whenever you’re ready, bring your attention back to the breath.
As you can see, your intention for the sit can completely change your experience – even within the same type of meditation.
Setting Your Intention
As you sit down to meditate, focus your mind on what your intention is for your sit. If you’re not sure where to put your attention, consider:
- What are you curious about, within your mind?
- How do you want to grow as a person?
- What’s challenging in your life?
- What would you like to explore?
- What would you like to create?
Once you’ve chosen your intention, hold it briefly in your mind. Then, begin your meditation.
This process of reminding yourself why you’re meditating, then briefly focusing your mind, will help guide your meditation session. Setting an intention doesn’t need to take more than 10 seconds, but it can make a profound difference on your experience.