My introduction to the art of working with the law of attraction began when I watched The Secret with my mum. I remember that spark of recognition as my 21-year-old brain began to spin with all the amazing things I could create using the power of my mind. I began to set intentions around my greatest concerns at the time: attracting some cash and adventure into my life. As I watched these intentions magically manifest in my reality, I was not only in awe of the process but also aware of the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for.”
In our fast-paced culture it can be easy to slip into the yang mode of grasping for more, ticking off lists and pushing forward. Taking the time to be quiet and thankful is a powerful spiritual practice that invites healthy reflection and abundance into your life.
As each new opportunity popped up, as each box was ticked, I began to feel empty. Nothing about my newly manifested intentions made me feel any good and situations started to fall apart shortly after they’d shown up. The creative surfer boyfriend with famous friends turned out to be a cheat. The job turned out to be unfulfilling and the overseas adventures just made me long for home.
Many of my goals and intentions revolved around what I believed I should want rather than what my soul truly desired. I knew I’d tapped into a powerful, natural system and that the next step was to tap into my heart’s wisdom and set intentions that resonated with who I truly was.
Since then, I’ve been on a journey to refine my intentions, resulting in much less glamorous goals that come directly from my soul values. Here are 10 practices I’ve homed in on over the years for setting heart-centred, authentic intentions.
1. Be guided by how you want to feel rather than what you want to have
According to Canadian author and speaker, Danielle LaPorte, “Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have. Generating those feelings is the most creative thing you can do with your life.” Knowing how you want to feel is not as easy as it sounds; get ready for some soul-searching. You can start by writing down five things you’d love to manifest in your life. Then take each of those five things and drill down to the feelings you think having those things will give you.
For example, I wrote that I’d like to get out in nature more. I realised that behind the images of being in nature, I wanted to feel alive. Then I wrote that I’d like to be more decisive and realised I actually wanted to feel powerful. Other insights I gleaned from this exercise were that I wanted to feel useful and nurtured. All in all, my desired feelings were: powerful, useful, alive, nurtured and creative. These five feelings have since guided both my intentions and my daily decisions, allowing me to ask, “How does doing this make me feel?”
2. Get visual
When it comes to manifesting dreams, creating a vision board can be a powerful aid. Grab a large piece of cardboard or a corkboard, a pile of magazines and get snipping. Choose images you are drawn to, not simply pictures of things you want. Let your heart lead your choices and try to go into the exercise with no preconceived notions of what you’d like to find.
For example, you may find yourself drawn to a photograph of a campfire without knowing why. Cut it out and meditate on the feeling you get when you look at the picture. Maybe you’re yearning for more outdoor time, more warmth in your life, more downtime or bonding opportunities with family? One picture can have a thousand different meanings. Find what it means to you and let your feelings be your guide.
3. Form an intention-setting circle of trusted friends
When a group of people come together to support and listen to each other, great things can happen. If you’re lucky enough to have a couple of trusted friends, invite them to join you for a monthly (or weekly!) intention-setting session. Each person will have the opportunity to voice their intentions for the coming month.
Intention circles can be further enhanced by harnessing the energy of the lunar cycle (the new moon is a powerful time to set intentions). Nurturing rituals can also lend power to the circle — for example, a talking bowl, candle, soft music or a campfire at night. Grab your pals, get creative and watch magic happen!
4. Create a gratitude ritual
Intentions and gratitude go hand in hand. Practising gratitude is like saying to the universe, “Thank you, more please”. It’s a way of recognising and shining a light on intentions that have manifested in your reality and of reflecting on how you feel about your intentions and how they played out in the material world. Gratitude is also a form of prayer and a means to commune with spirit.
It’s great to have a gratitude journal to remind you to constantly check in and be thankful for what you have. In our fast-paced culture it can be easy to slip into the yang mode of grasping for more, ticking off lists and pushing forward. Taking the time to be quiet and thankful is a powerful spiritual practice that invites healthy reflection and abundance into your life.
5. Follow the cycles of the natural world
Many ancient cultures have their own auspicious times for planting, sowing and harvesting. It’s only our modern westernised culture that insists we constantly strive for more productivity, asking too much of ourselves and the natural world that supports us. Natural cycles can offer guidance on when to set intentions, when to work hard and put in the extra mile and when to completely switch off and rest.
Pushing hard in winter can send us to bed with a nasty flu — the darker season is a natural time to slow down where possible. Spring can be a time to clear away clutter and embrace the outdoors. Summer is often a social time to celebrate life with loved ones, and autumn can be a chance to softly turn inwards and give thanks for abundance.
The ancient health science of Ayurveda offers wisdom on working with the seasons and cycles of nature, from what to eat to support your mental and physical health to how to dress and conduct yourself to balance your predominant dosha (your Ayurvedic mind-body type).
The moon cycle also offers quiet guidance that can work magic in your life. For example, the full moon is a time when things come to a head and feelings are close to the surface. It can also be a time of productivity. As the moon wanes it can remind us to practise gratitude, to harvest what we have learned. Just before the new moon we can check in with our intentions and ask ourselves how they played out during the cycle.
Using these ancient practices with your intentions can fuel them with extra power and soulfulness.
6. Let your body be your guide
If you want to set meaningful intentions, you must fully inhabit every limb, bone and cell in your body and listen to its wisdom. Your body will tell you when it’s time to slow down and take stock, when it’s time to rest and when it’s time to work hard. Follow the signs. Sometimes I’ll find myself cleaning out the cupboard when I should be writing, or writing when I should be cleaning out the cupboard. These are opportunities to remind myself that sometimes my body knows best. Whenever I follow its wisdom, which is my own deep inner yearnings, life has a way of taking care of itself.
Listening to your body is an art that takes practice. It also takes courage to ignore the “shoulds” dictated by an anxious society that constantly drives you to do more. Danielle LaPorte says, “Amazing grace can happen when you choose inner wisdom over external pressure.” When the wisdom that guides your intentions comes from your body, you can be sure you’re on the right track.
7. Take note of who you admire and why
The type of people I admire are focused, determined and unafraid to be themselves. In the past, I thought this way of being was completely out of reach, which led me to feel jealous of powerful people who got things done and didn’t let the opinions of others get in their way. I began to set intentions around the qualities I admired in others, challenging my old beliefs by setting affirmations like, “I am a powerful decision maker”, and playing around with them until I had affirmations I could believe. This practice shifted my feelings from envy to appreciation, opening me up to the possibility that I could cultivate those qualities I admired.
Once you can believe a statement or affirmation, truly believe it in your bones, then it must manifest. Noticing admirable qualities in others is a powerful way to set intentions on being in the world rather than acquiring things or ticking off boxes. Rather than big houses, flashy job titles or a thin figure, it’s your way of being in the world that makes you feel powerful, grateful and authentic.
8. Have the courage to tackle old beliefs
The Abraham-Hicks Law of Attraction says the art of allowing is just as important as the art of intention. If you want to allow your wildest dreams to manifest, you have to be willing to face your darkest demons. A great way to do this is to use Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). When you’re setting your intentions or even simply talking about what you’d like to manifest in your life, take note of quiet (or loud) voices that pipe up and say, “Oh, but that’s impossible” or “I don’t have time” or “I’ve never been good at that”. Often you’ll find yourself saying these things to friends and family, justifying why you can’t have what you want.
Once you discover these limiting voices, you’re halfway to achieving your dreams. These voices show you old beliefs that direct your life from an unconscious state. Bring them out into the light of day, thank them for protecting you when you needed protection and politely send them on their way. This, of course, is not as easy as it sounds. It can be worth enlisting the help of an EFT practitioner, trusted life coach or like-minded friend to help you push past the traumas and beliefs that stand between you and your goals.
We all have limiting beliefs but it’s up to us to design a plan of how and when to move past them so we can allow our deepest, most authentic intentions to manifest.
9. Celebrate the success of others
I firmly believe there is enough for everyone. This is a particularly empowering belief for women, who have traditionally had to compete for a tiny share of the pie. While social media can be rife with trolls and filters, it can also provide a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and boost the success of your friends. Whether it’s liking their posts or writing heartfelt comments, supporting and loving your friends and family when they achieve their dreams shows the universe that you’re feeling abundant and joyful — and you’re ready for more.
10. Set yourself up to receive abundance
If you want to take your intention-setting powers to the next level, it’s time for a life audit. Ask yourself, what media do I allow into my mind? Who do I spend most of my time with? What do I talk about more than anything else? How do I nourish my body? Take note of the habits that make you feel great and those that leave you feeling deflated. Just that knowledge will leave you more empowered to make small decisions that increase the feeling of abundance in your life, thus attracting more. Listening to podcasts and reading books by people you admire can often provide fresh insights and ideas around creating routines and practices that invite abundance.
If you want to set meaningful intentions, you must fully inhabit every limb, bone and cell in your body and listen to its wisdom. Your body will tell you when it’s time to slow down and take stock, when it’s time to rest and when it’s time to work hard. Follow the signs.
Since I learned to get serious about aligning my intentions and goals with my deepest values, my notion of success has transformed from a superficial picture of “having” to a deeply felt sense of “being”. Where I used to want an amazing job, a big group of friends who loved and supported me, a man who adored me, plenty of cash in the bank and a beautiful house, I now desire to feel creative and empowered, to be a supportive friend, an adoring wife, an empowered woman and mother. I deeply believe that money will come to me through following my bliss — and it’s doing work I love that floats my boat, not the cash in the bank.
Transforming material-focused goals into soul-centred intentions is a worthwhile journey to take if you want to learn more about yourself, cut through old beliefs and create new ones. It’s up to you to write your own story about how you want to show up in the world. Setting goals with soul is a tool you can use to navigate life wholeheartedly.