If you do a google search asking how many decisions we make on average every day, it comes up with 35 000 (imagine the implications of this if you believe a parallel universe opens each time you make a decision). Every time we make a decision there is a reason we go for one thing and not another, a driving force if you will. This driving force is intention.
Setting intentions before we begin something new, or reviewing intentions when we are making decisions, are wonderful practices that we can add into our regular way of being in the world. We can also review intentions when we recognize judgment, resistance, or struggle coming into our realm of emotional experience.
For example, you are lying in bed and having trouble sleeping, then you remember that you have just learned how to do a relaxing body scan meditation and you begin, thinking you may as well get some meditation practice in if you are going to lie in bed awake all night anyway. You wake up the next morning refreshed and happy that you fell asleep before you even finished the body scan. Fast forward to the next night, where you are again lying in bed unable to sleep, you remember the night before and start doing another body scan to make you go to sleep, but you get all the way through the scan and are still awake (maybe even a bit tense). Frustrating, and the reason why so many people say, “I can’t meditate.” However, if we stop and apply a bit of open curiosity to this situation we can see that the first night the intention was to just do the meditation for the sake of the meditation, the second night the intention was to do the meditation to fall asleep. Even this little tweak in intention can change the way we are with something, and alter the outcome.
The intention of practice for the sake of practice and nothing else, opens the door to non-judgment and acceptance. No matter what the process is that we experience it is something. There is no expectation of a specific way that things must be, there is instead a relaxation into whatever there is. If the intention is to have a specific experience in the practice, we are bypassing the process and going straight to an expected outcome. This makes for a closed and restricting practice.
It is called a practice after all. When we can be open with the experience we actually benefit from all the different processes that we go through, noticing the changes that happen, the way our own inner landscape affects our practice, and this in turn opens the door to letting go of resistance, struggle, tension and judgment. This is the way to becoming stress free, and easeful in living. Not because we expect meditation and mindfulness to produce this way of being, but because we practice anyway, opening with acceptance to everything that comes our way and letting it all in.