The New Year is here and with the fresh new winter air comes a sense of clarity and peace. Now is the perfect time to look inward, and connect with your deepest inspirations, aspirations, and intentions. Intention setting is different from resolution or goal setting. While goals are concrete and success-driven, intentions tend to be more gentle, personal and life-shifting in the long term.  

What is an Intention? 

An intention is a loving commitment to oneself that joins the mind and the heart on a journey to one’s highest calling. It is a shift in perspective that subtly attunes a person to their inner voice and spirit. It is not like a goal or resolution that beckons someone to make a radical change or reach a certain milestone. Intentions are not measurable and not results-driven. They are all about moment-to-moment inner peace, self-love, quest for truth, compassion, and other matters of the heart. 

Woman with blond hair sitting on beach on checkered red blanket with plaid blue button down looking out to the ocean to set intention.

Examples of Intentions

To better understand an “intention,” it is helpful to see different common examples that people set. Here are a handful of popular ones, that you can use or draw inspiration from when setting your own: 

  • I intend to:
    • show compassion to those around me 
    • practice self-love 
    • find peace in my heart every day 
    • embrace myself as I am 
    • be grateful for what I have 
    • tap into my creativity
    • take my time
    • be patient
    • connect with nature  
    • lead by example
    • love my body
    • let go of what no longer serves me
    • be present
    • trust my path to unfold as its meant to

Take a moment to look through these or reflect inwardly to manifest an intention for yourself that deeply resonates with you. 

Concrete ground with star decor, twinkle lights and the words "set your intention."

6 Step Intention Setting Ritual 

An intention setting ritual is a small ceremony dedicated to setting and manifesting your intention. Here are the steps for creating a special ritual that can instill a sense of peace and imprint your intention in your mind, heart and spirit. 

  1. Setting the Space. Mindfully set a space that is quiet and as free from distraction as possible. It can be the simplest corner, or you can have sacred items, candles and anything else that feels right nearby. Sit down comfortably, close your eyes and relax your whole body to connect inwardly. 
  2. Finding an Intention. The first step is finding an intention that resonates strongly with your inner voice and path. There is always that little knowing wisdom within you that you hear but perhaps don’t always pay attention to. This is a moment to quiet outer noise so you can hear that and let your intention come to you. Take as much time as you need here. 
  3. Let go of Limitations. Sometimes, the intention that comes to us may seem out of reach, but surely it is not. Nothing is out of reach when the heart and mind are behind it. With some deep, slow inhales and exhales, release any fear or doubt between you and your vision. Continue for 3-4 inhales and exhales to release all blockage. 
  4. Find Clarity. Now, repeat your intention in your mind. Relaxing the shoulders, jaw and forehead, see your intention with your mind’s eye. Roll it in your mind like you would a beautiful quartz crystal in your fingertips. See all the facets of your intention, bring them to light and to being. See it clearly and repeat slowly and mindfully about 10-11 times. 
  5. Manifestation Visualization. Tap into the imagination to envision your intention manifesting. For example, if it is to show compassion, envision the sights, sounds and smells as you show compassion to all living beings. If it is inner peace, envision yourself on walks, in work, cleaning, driving, all while feeling peaceful and at ease. Adapt according to your personal intention. Breathe here in your visualization exercise for 5 minutes or longer. 
  6. Write your Intention. Begin to gently open your eyes and keep your intention in mind. Grab a special journal that you can dedicate to musings around your intention and related thoughts, ideas, visions, dreams, prose and poetry. Here, write down your intention exactly as you had repeated it in your mind. You can accompany it with a longer form of it – as long as you wish. You can write about anything that may be in the way and how you can overcome. This is your space to let everything out on paper. You can doodle as well. 

And that’s it! Your beautiful ritual is complete. Some may choose to also use crystals, incenses like sandalwood, palo santo and sage, oracle/tarot cards, and instruments like drum and singing bowl as part of their ritual. Feel free to add anything that is a natural part of your practice to your ceremony.

Intention written in a journal that reads "say yes to new adventures."

Nurturing your Intention

After the intention is set, you don’t have to hold too tight or obsess over it. You have brought it into your being and now all there is to do is to be present and live mindfully. You can repeat your intention in your mind whenever you feel it and act upon it whenever an opportunity presents itself to you. Some ways to nurture it include journaling, meditating, yoga, mindful walks around your neighborhood, time in nature, making a vision board with old magazines, connecting with loved ones, volunteering in your community, donating when possible, drinking soothing herbal teas like Tulsi, and eating a vibrant colorful diet free of processed foods. 

women practicing meditation on space-inspired yoga mat to nurture her intentions for the new year.

Did you know winter is kapha season? Learn more about this dosha and how it relates to you!