When we use our imaginations to envision the future life we most hope, we can bring ourselves one step closer to that actual life. This mindfulness practice is called “imagine if.”
If you joined me for Module 1, or even if you haven’t, let’s just recap: we’ve explored how to uncover the meaning in our lives, how to touch in with our core values. So, today, I want to build on that and really think about how to set an intention based on the things that are important to us. In order to do that, I always like to begin by taking a moment to arrive. As you’re listening to this, you may be just starting your day or arriving from a busy day. Whatever the circumstances, I always find it really nourishing to just take a moment to allow our mind and heart and body to catch up with one another—inviting all parts of us into the same moment and taking a moment to arrive here.
How to Set an Intention for Your Future
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How to Set an Intention for Your Future
Read the practice:
1. If you’re comfortable, I invite you to close your eyes or simply direct your gaze downward, softening the visual field. Sit or find a comfortable position for your body. Allow your attention to settle.
2. Collect your attention and become aware of your body. Feel the places where your feet make contact with the ground or the chair. Tune into the felt sense of your body wherever you find yourself—perhaps sitting in a way that’s alert but relaxed at the same time; sitting in a way that embodies this quality of alertness, of clarity, that we will be practicing today.
3. Now gently but firmly gather your attention and direct it towards the sensation of breathing. Note the sense of the air moving in and out of your body. Bring your full, undivided attention in a firm but gentle way to this experience of breathing.
4. And just as you are, let’s continue this meditation on intention by considering something you hope for in your life. More specifically, what you may hope your life will look like at some future date and time. It could be near-term: the next six months or a year; or longer-term: three years, five years, 10 years. Choose whatever time horizon is useful for you at this moment.
5. Now, really consider what you envision for your life, with vividness and clarity. I invite you to imagine you living your best life. And to take this further, I’d like you to imagine you living your best life in a way as though it’s already happened. So, what are you hoping for? Imagine it’s five years from now, or 10, and you’re living your best life. What does that look like? Let’s pause here and really envision what this future life looks like. Who are you? What are you doing? Who is there with you? What conditions exist, what circumstances?
6. Continuing now, call into your mind and heart and sense in your body what it feels like to be living this future life that you most hope for. The easiest way to envision this is to simply imagine what it would feel like. What would it feel like to be living this future life?
7. As we end this meditation I invite you to take a few deeper breaths at your own pace. And then rejoin: Open your eyes, if you have your eyes closed.
Reflecting on your intention practice:
So, this is really an exercise in “imagine if.” And again, this is part of an intention-setting exercise. And the reason I’m inviting you to envision a future life that you most hope for is because imagining it, and thinking and acting as though we’ve already experienced it, we can bring ourselves one step closer to that actual life. If that doesn’t seem clear, here’s another simple prompt you can either use as a meditation or reflection, or you can write or journal about. It’s a kind of fill-in-the-blank: I am living my best life, and I am ….
If there’s something that you’re hoping for—a change, a difference in your life—begin with that. An example of this reflection would be: It is three years from now, and I’m living my best life, and I am …. I invite you to fill in that blank.
It’s 10 years from now, I am living my best life, and I am writing and teaching—that would be mine. And I am a published author of three books.
So I invite you to try this out for yourself: imagine your future life because this is the intention-setting exercise at the heart of this module.
I invite those who aren’t writing to just meditate on that prompt. And if you’re comfortable writing, please go ahead and take a minute or so and write this out: I’m living my best life and I am …. Fill in the blank.
Continue that reflection by considering how you feel. What does it feel like in this future place? Write that down, or inhabit that feeling. What are you doing? How do you feel? What’s happening in this best version of your life?
Just remember this vision, this felt sense, as we end the reflection. If you’re doing this as a meditation, take a couple of deep breaths at your own pace and then rejoin us.
Thank you for that thought exercise, that meditation. This is intention-setting: imagining the way forward and setting the intention around it. I specifically wanted to invite you to reflect on your own life, perhaps your life and work, and then consider how all of this would look in the best life you could hope for—and then, write it down. Or you can really get clear on the qualities of that best life and then live your way forward into that life. That is the intention-setting invitation. Have a great day.