Monday, July 25, 2016

Meditation Monday: Is Intention-Setting a Setup for Judgment?

By Nancy Hall, MA, NCC, LPC
In an effort to take the “manic” out of “Monday,” this weekly post explores techniques, issues, latest research, and other thoughts on meditation. Nancy facilitates two weekly meditation groups at The Awakening Center. For more information, contact her at 773.929.6262, extension 17 or

If you’ve ever been to a yoga or meditation class, you probably have been asked to set an intention for your practice. The idea is to create a vision for yourself—to add some agency. Meditation in particular can feel like a passive activity and setting an intention can shift this.

However, what happens when the intention becomes a distraction? And what about when you don’t “measure up” to your intention? Judgement. Self-criticism.

For some, intention-setting in meditation can shift the focus from the present to the future. It can turn the practice into a results-oriented endeavor. Which is why I like to offer my group participants an alternative.

“Take a moment to welcome yourself into your practice.”

There is a sneaky intention there—to come into the present. Whenever we welcome ourselves into a moment or activity, we orient ourselves to the present. And we take ourselves out of the sidelines. We open the door to full participation and it becomes harder to be a passive participant in our own lives.

Welcoming yourself can take a variety of forms. It might be mentally noting what you’re doing--“I’m at work now.” “I’m am talking with my friend now.” You might also observe what’s happening in your body—“My stomach has a knot.” “My palms feel tingly.”

Sometimes the story we tell ourselves about our lives can create a barrier to coming into the present moment. If we’re ruminating about what the boss thinks, focusing on the tasks at hand become even more difficult. However, acknowledging what you’re doing in that moment takes you out of your head and into your life.

So take a moment to welcome yourself into your day.

Enjoy your practice.

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