An intention setting ritual is a mindfulness practice that can help you feel grounded and prepared for your month ahead. Depending on your familiarity with intention setting, you may think it’s a strictly new-age practice based around the new moon. But setting intentions can look however you want them to look.
The power of intention setting rituals for your life
There are all types of rituals. Simply defined, a ritual is just a series of actions you perform in a specific order. Rituals are often ceremonious by the way they include specific items, are performed in specific settings, and often occur at specific times.
Clear intention setting is similar to goal setting. As long as your intentions are meaningful to you, feel right for your life, and help you achieve what you set out to, then setting clear intentions can be a powerful practice.
Putting the two together, rituals and intention setting, you can create a meaningful practice of setting your intentions in a beautiful way that has more meaning than just sitting down and writing them on a piece of paper.
What exactly is “intention setting”?
Intention setting is clearly stating what you want to experience and achieve through your actions. This can be related to your work, personal life, dreams, thoughts, mindfulness practice, or whatever you choose. As long as it is clearly defined and customized to your life.
By defining which intentions you want to set, you can work to manifest and bring into reality these intentions. Your thoughts, actions, beliefs, emotions are all used to help you manifest or achieve your intentions.
Another aspect of intention setting is the frequency at which you do it. You may follow a new moon calendar for setting new intentions. Or you may choose to do it at a different time - at the start of a new business quarter, every Monday for your week ahead, or less frequently like at the new year. You may choose to spend time meditating on the coming year and have an intention setting ritual as opposed to setting the traditional new year's resolutions. It’s up to you!
Regardless of the frequency, the power of intention setting comes when you clear away the negative and invite the positive. When you decide today is a new beginning, and you’re going to re-center your thoughts and mind around new intentions.
Types of intention setting rituals and other rituals
When you think of rituals, you may go straight to crystals, altars, incense, and incantations. This is just one archetype of rituals. There are many different types of rituals and ways to categorize them.
- Religious, worship, or magic rituals
- Rite of passage and calendar rituals
- Personal or intuitive rituals
- Family, community, or group rituals
Something becomes ritualistic when you set the tone or mood and when you configure a space. This makes it different from a routine because there is more purpose behind doing it. It has sensory elements that make it more meaningful than just completing a task.
So, an intention setting ritual is simply doing your intention setting with increased mindfulness and purpose. In other words, an intention setting ritual is taking a naturally ritualistic practice (intention setting) and pairing it with an outward, actual ritual that adds more meaning to it. It makes it more physical and embodied. Plus, it can help you form a deeper connection with your thoughts and intentions.
An intention setting ritual could look like going to your favorite coffee shop, ordering your go-to latte, sitting in the same spot, and journaling about the intentions you want to set for the month ahead. It can be a simple ritual. It can be in your comfort zone and still meaningful.
How to perform an intention setting ritual that feels right for you
One of the first steps in setting up your own intention setting ritual is to think about what feels comfortable to you.
- When is the right time to do one? And how often?
- Where is the right location or space for you?
- What elements would make your intention setting ritual unique or special?
These are some initial thoughts that come to mind when determining how to mindfully enter into an intention setting ritual. Regardless of what you choose, be kind to yourself and remember that this is for you, not for anyone else. If you feel silly, then laugh and embrace it. But start somewhere, knowing that ritual is a powerful way to harness your energy and create a purposeful environment for setting clear intentions that can transform your life.
If you’re someone who wants more practical steps for how to perform your own intention setting ritual, consider these:
Step 1 - Pick a place
Like we said before, this can be as simple and approachable as your favorite local coffee spot. It could be a bench in the park, an overlook on a hiking trail, or the chair in your bedroom.
Pick a place where you are able to let down your walls and be authentic with yourself. Typically this is a place that inspires, relaxes, or challenges you. It can also be a place you create and customize. Rituals often come to life because of the elements that are brought into them. So, if this needs to be at home so that you have access to your own things, the ability to play music out loud, light candles, smudge sticks, or essential oils, and introduce other personalized touches, then do it there.
The place you choose could become an important part of your intention setting rituals ongoing and, in that sense, is a sacred space.
Step 2 - Get in the mood
Take time to transition from whatever you were doing before starting your intention setting ritual. Spend five minutes meditating to clear your mind.
Then consider what elements you need to introduce for the ritual to be truly meaningful and unique for you. Consider the senses - taste, touch, feel, smell, sight. What, if anything, needs to be utilized to engage your senses so that this ritual is dimensional and purposeful in helping you set the best intentions for yourself.
Step 3 - Engage your mind
This can be a recitation. This is a great place to read through quotes about journaling or meditating from famous thinkers. You could read an ancient text that inspires you or simply stop for a moment of silence and reflection.
Take several deep breaths. Breathe in your first ideas for new clear intentions, exhale negative thoughts and barriers. If you use crystals like rose quartz and clear quartz, introduce these now. If you have an important element, perhaps a family heirloom, cards, photos, blanket or textile, anything that brings you both peace and reminds you of who you really are, introduce it here.
These are important parts of ritual because they encourage us to make connections with our past and present to our future.
Step 4 - Set your new intention
At this point, you may have several intentions that you are ready to set. And if not, that’s okay.
Set your intentions in your mind, repeating them to yourself and ending with a statement of gratitude. Give thanks to mother earth, the universe, yourself (whoever!), that you’ve had the opportunity to have this ritual at this moment in time.
If you are still thinking about what clear intentions you want to set, consider journaling through a prompt. Journaling prompts about topics like self-discovery, mindfulness and personal growth can be great ways to unpack more of your thoughts. And help you figure out what intentions are best for you right now.
Step 5 - Reflect
Finally, pause to visualize what it looks like for you to achieve and manifest these intentions. For example, if you set the intention to “love and accept myself," reflect on ways you can act this out.
When reflecting, take time to feel grounded and complete in your ritual. Think about what more you want to do in this space and the time you’ve configured for intention setting. Stay in this moment until you can feel your mind and body telling you it’s time to be done… or until you’ve run out of time and need to go on about your day. Either one!
We hope that you have more knowledge and inspiration to try intention setting rituals. Subscribe to the Silk + Sonder newsletter for more ideas about mindfulness practices and journaling.