How to Set Intentions for Malas and Meditation

setting intentions

Creating and setting a Sankalpa or intention for mala beads and our japa meditation practice helps us to create more focus and calm, as well as allows us to manifest our hopes, goals, dreams, and desires. While wearing and using your mala is a powerful reminder and potent conduit for your intentions, it can sometimes be challenging coming up with the right intention for you.

What Are Intentions?

Intentions are short statements which affirm something we want to achieve or become. A Sankalpa or intention should be positive, set in the present moment, and stated in the first person. This isn’t a goal with tangible expectations. Instead, an intention gives our lives purpose and aim. They guide our everyday choices and actions and keep us connected to our chosen course.

Clear and concise intentions create a roadmap for our spiritual journey and practice.  They provide a guide for what type of meditation techniques we use and how we want to live our lives. Intentions guide us to think, feel and act in a way that brings our goals—our soul’s deepest desires—to life. When your intentions become manifested you turn your desire into reality.

What Are the Benefits of Setting Intentions?

Intentions allow us to turn hidden or unclear desires into everyday reminders.  That way, you never lose focus on what you want in life. By setting an intention, we can transform a dream into reality.

Intentions also allow us to let go of negative energies that can weigh us down and impede our spiritual progress. With an intention, you can instead transform your negative thought patterns into positive ones.

Additional benefits of using intentions:

  • Increases motivation to meditate
  • Keeps you centered, present and mindful
  • Improves your effectiveness and efficiency
  • Promotes a positive attitude and outlook on life

Five Steps To Create An Intention

Using the following techniques, you can discover simple yet powerful steps to setting intentions for your mala and your current spiritual practices.

1. Reflect on Your Desires

To create an intention, you will need to reflect on what matters most to you in life. The first step for setting intentions is to start brainstorming what your goals, dreams, and desires are. Set aside a chunk of time to do some deep contemplation. Start with some deep breaths to clear your mind and then begin to focus your attention on what you want most. Go ahead and ask yourself several or all of the following essential questions to ask yourself when setting intentions:

  • creating an intentionWhat do I feel is missing in my life?
  • What qualities and values are most important to me?
  • How do I want to be feeling a year from now?
  • What do I want to feel more of in my daily life?
  • What do I see in others that I would like to be too?
  • Am I happy with what I have now?
  • What am I doing right? What have I been doing wrong?
  • What’s holding me back?

After asking each question, consider how you feel about what pops into your head. Note how quickly your answers come and how strongly you react to your answers. If you are concerned that an answer might be part of your baggage you can further ask “Is this true? Is this helpful?” Take note of the answers that pulls on your heartstrings the strongest.

2. Start small and refine

As you start formulating an intention, keep it concise and achievable, especially in the beginning. Construct your intention so that it is positive, set in the present moment, and stated in the first person. Use empowering words! Avoid using words like “always” or “never” because these can make your intention unrealistic.  Also, avoid using the word “should” as it can bring an obligatory and shameful energy to your intention.

Here are a few examples of intentions:

  • I am letting go of my fear
  • I choose to feel strong and powerful
  • I intend to be kinder to myself
  • I wish to deepen my connections with others
  • May I receive and express more love in my life
  • Let the blessings of abundance rain down on me
  • I will find beauty in all that surrounds me

Ask yourself the following to help fine-tune your intention:

  • Am I being specific enough? Or too specific?
  • Do I currently have the time and energy to work on this?
  • Could I achieve this within the next year?
  • Who could I receive support or guidance from as I work on this?

Remember that your intention isn’t a tangible goal, but rather a clear purpose to lead you through a challenging life. Once you become successful with simple and small intentions, you will have the confidence and skill to achieve bigger and more powerful ones.

3. Write It Out

Once you’ve determined your intention, write it down! You can shorten your intention so it’s easy to remember. For example, “I am letting go of my fear,” can simply become “courage.” Likewise, “I wish to be kinder to myself” can be shortened to “kindness.”

Writing out our intentions allows them to become tangible and real. Plus it ensures that you won’t forget them! You can post your intention someplace in your home as a  daily reminder. Writing your intentions down in a journal will be helpful to track and reflect on your progress over time.

4. Stay Centered and Commit

It can be easy for stress and anxiety to overwhelm us, and make it difficult to formulate or remember our affirmations. When setting and working on your intentions, it’s important to learn to drown out any mental chatter and keep your mind calm. Block out any outside noise, negative influences, and self-criticisms as you focus on making your intention a reality.

You might want to create a unique and special ritual for your act of creating and committing to intentions. If so, try any of the following:

  • Create a sacred space and altar that emits good energy and peace. Light some candles and burn some incense or diffuse a calming essential oil.
  • Hold your mala beads or other intentional jewelry items in your hands. As you think of your intention allow the essence of your intention’s energy to flow into your mala.
  • Say your intention out loud a few times or do a round of 108 repetitions of your intention using your mala beads.
  • Chant the Sanskrit mantra “Om Hrim Namah Shivaya” at least three times, while remaining calm and focused on your intention. This mantra is traditionally used for activating and sealing the energy in a mala.
  • Lightly touch your mala to your heart and to your third eye to create a spiritual and energetic connection between you and your mala.
  • Finish your energetic bonding with your intentions and mala by sitting in silent meditation for at least five minutes.

Commit to working on your intention regularly. Obviously, the more time and energy you spend thinking and working on your intention the sooner it will become a reality. Think of some daily techniques to help remind you of your intention. Reflect on the challenging aspects of your life and think of ways to have your intention present during those tough moments. Create a list of achievable goals that will help you move towards your intention, and commit to getting started on the first one.

5. Detach from the Outcome

Let go of your attachments or desires to obtain a specific result from your intention. Attachment reinforces fear and insecurity, while detachment encourages belief in the power of your true Self. Allow yourself to live in the wisdom of uncertainty and allow opportunities to come your way. Trust that the universe has got your back!

Six Ways To Use Your Intentions

Once you have created a powerful intention, you’ll need a plan of how to use it. Ideally, find ways to weave your intention into your daily schedule to set the tone for your day and to keep you focused in times of duress. Always affirm your intentions with deep feeling and certainty, with your entire body and mind.

1. Wear It Everywhere

Find something that you can wear every day to remind you of your intention. This can be a special piece of jewelry, a simple thread tied around your wrist or a sacred set of mala beads. Not only will wearing a mala act as a daily reminder of your desires, touching its healing stones will help calm and focus you during moments of stress and anxiety. As your mala becomes empowered with a daily japa meditation practice, these energies will be present with you as you wear the beads throughout the day.

2. Share your intention

Be brave and share your intention with your tribe. Be even braver and ask for support and guidance with working on it. Feeling supported by your community will boost your feelings of confidence and empower you to become a better human. While there’s great strength in numbers, be mindful of not sharing your intention too widely that it loses its potency.

3. Meditate

Invoke your intention at the start and end of your meditation or yoga practice. When your mind wanders, and negative thoughts arise, bring your attention back to your intention and breath. As you leave your meditation cushion or yoga mat, commit to practicing your intention for the rest of your day.

4. Guiding force

Invoking your intention can be very helpful when facing difficult decisions. If you find yourself confused or unsure about which choice to make, ask yourself which choice is best aligned with your intention. For example, if you are choosing a new japa mala or a mantra to use, your intention can be the main guiding force in determining which one to select.

5. Reflect and refine

After working on your intention for a while, you may need to take a moment to assess it’s appropriateness, effectiveness, and power. If you have not made much progress with your intention, you may need to refine it to be more achievable, or you might need to commit more time and effort. If you made a list of steps for your intention, look them up and cross out what you’ve accomplished and set new ones as needed. Your life’s circumstances may have changed dramatically since setting your intention and if so you might need to set it aside and choose a new one.

Choosing Malas & Mantras with Intentions

Mala prayer beads are powerful reminders to pause, breathe and come back to our higher purpose and deepest intentions. Check out our guides on choosing a Sanskrit mantra or a set of new mala beads that align with your intentions.