Does Why You Meditate Matter?

Don't let meditation become just one more thing on your to-do list. Try this meditation on intention.

Sebene Selassie, executive director of the New York Insight Meditation Center.

The key in meditation is to take time to get in touch with what you want, what you value most. With this practice, use intention to feed your passion and motivation. It will help you to dedicate time to meditation practice.

1. Feel the Body

Begin by feeling your body, connecting with both feet, your legs, your seat, hips, tailbone. Sensing your spine, straight and upright, relax the shoulders down and allow your awareness to travel down through both arms and to the palms of the hands and fingers. Bring the awareness into the belly, the chest, the throat, and then resting your awareness on your face, release any tension in your jaw, eyes, forehead. Sense the whole body as you sit here. And feel the breath moving through the entire volume of the body. And from this place of connection and presence, inquire into why you are meditating. What is your hope, vision, intention?

Tip: Don’t worry if your intention is fuzzy—you can choose to simply pay attention to whatever thoughts or sensations arise.

2. Listen Closely

Listen deeply. Thoughts will arise. Note them, and let them go. Listen deeper still. What feels most compelling, most true in your body? Try not to think about your intention, or to analyze or cognitively discern it. Instead, see if you can listen from a deeper place, a still abiding awareness that is always already there. Listen with your body, with your whole being.

3. Note the Intention

Perhaps, for now, there is no clear answer, and your intention is simply to be present, to stay open, to be curious, allowing whatever arises to be here. Or perhaps a clear felt sense of your intention arises. Either way, hold your intention clearly in your consciousness, regardless of whether it is strong and clearly formed or amorphous and tentative.

4. Let Your Intention Go

Silently repeat your intention, anchor it in your mind and body. And once you feel that it is clear and stable, let it go. And rest back into the body, into the awareness that is enveloping you. The intention simply guides, it is not a goal that we fixate on, but a direction we incline our heart and mind to follow.