Why You Should Focus on Intentions Instead of Resolutions This Year (and How to Do It)

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new_year_chandresh_bhardwaj Your first impulse to make 2016 a better year may be to draw up grand plans of the brand-new person you’re going to be: Ten pounds lighter, cooking dinner every night, and meditating every morning. If you’re like me, you’ve piled it on even more: Volunteer twice a week! Learn Spanish! Make all your skin-care products from scratch! (Seriously, all of this has been on my list. And it's still there...)

Before you start goal-setting for 2016, consider sitting with your ideas for a bit and anchoring yourself in the present moment, says Los Angeles-based spiritual teacher Chandresh Bhardwaj.

“Our minds love to linger in the past and jump ahead to the future; resolutions only help encourage that behavior. They are always related to a fear from a conditioned past or a worry about the future,” says Bhardwaj, whose book Break the Norms: Questioning Everything You Think You Know About God and Truth, Life and Death, Love and Sex was debuted January 1.

To supercharge the start of the new year, Bhardwaj shares his five-step plan to creating meaningful changes for a better 2016, filled with being fully present. —Erin Hanafy

Chandresh_Bhardwaj1. Skip making limiting resolutions. "As a spiritual teacher, it’s often expected that I'm full of amazing resolutions, and that I’m ready to give you one as well. But the truth is I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. A resolution is limiting. When you set a resolution, you declare, 'I am only going to think about this defined notion in my mind.' Resolutions are governed by your mind, and anything governed by the mind doesn’t have great consequences."

2. Instead, go deeper: Set intentions. "Sankalpa—the Sanskrit word for intention—is generated for your soul’s growth. A good intention nurtures your consciousness and has the power to significantly raise your awareness. When you set an intention, you don’t have to worry about your actions. A righteous intention creates a righteous action."

Break_the_Norms_Chandresh_Bhardwai3. Meditate on those intentions. "Break the Norms includes instruction on several meditation techniques. Here’s one, for discovering unconditional love, that will support your intentions."

• On a sheet of paper, write down one intention. Make sure this intention is practical and able to be accomplished in two to three months.

• Keep the intention in your altar [here's how to make one!] or somewhere safe.

• Sit in silence. Relax. Be mindful of your breathing.

• Bring your awareness to your heart and plant the intention that you have created.

• Express to the divine that this intention will manifest itself in 90 days. (You can choose the specific amount of days here as per the nature of your intention.)

• Now, release the intention out into the universe with complete faith.

4. Be spontaneous and embrace the present. "Someone once told me that you cannot dive into the same river twice because a river is always changing. This is true of human consciousness as well; it is always changing....We have forgotten to embrace the present moment and are instead too busy chasing the unknown future. Relax. Look around. You are here. That’s enough for now!"

5. Stop trying to predict what's coming. "When you try to determine what your future holds, you may actually end up destroying that very future you are looking forward to! Your tomorrow has its own beauty and life. But if you have already decided what your tomorrow holds today, you aren’t doing it any justice. Let tomorrow take its own course."

Don't need a resolution as much as as a reset? Check out our detox guide here to everything you need to know...

(Photos: Morgan Sessions via Unsplash.com, Jeff Xander)

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