The Power of Setting Intentions

With the April Full Moon shining brightly on top of the Steel Bridge, an iconic landmark in Portland, Oregon, my best friend and I headed down the concrete stairs that jutted from the sidewalk in front of my apartment to the rocky alcove that faced the Willamette River. The air had a simultaneous smell of recent rain and fresh magnolia flower. Each of us held a scrap of paper in our hands which had a list of all things we intended to rid ourselves of in the coming month. I lit a candle and we burned our lists into the candle fire, watching as our lists turned into ashes and flew with the wind into the river. That marked the completion of our first homemade, totally improvised Full Moon Ceremony.

I started practicing intentional ceremonies on my own just a couple months prior to this. I first became interested in intentional setting practices after researching and learning more about it over the rainy Portland winter. Linking my intention settings with the moon cycle is something a bit more new to me, but I have found it to be a very powerful practice. After having had a few ceremonies now with my best friend, I am feeling inspired to share how this practice has helped me. I intend to incorporate more of these types of ceremonies into my life and hope to inspire others to do the same.

This prior winter, my life was a bit of a dark carousel, going round and round in a cycle that wasn’t healthy for my mind, body, or soul. I had just moved back to Portland, Oregon after having moved away for about five months and had lost connection with a lot of my old friends. Going against my own morals and being misguided while on the search for trying to feel less alone, I had a couple different relationships in my life that were unhealthy. I was also living downtown in an isolated area entrenched with lots of sadness; it was not uncommon to see people dealing or shooting up drugs at the light rail stop that I waited at for my daily commute. It made me feel sad and helpless to see all of the addiction, it reminded me of how much suffering there was in the world and in my own life. The discomfort of my outer world seemed to be reflecting my inner world.

I was watching a lot of self-help videos on YouTube during the winter and in one video someone spoke of intention setting practices and how much it helped them to shift a few things in their life to more of their liking. Every night I started writing an intentional list in my journal. The list consisted of three things I intended to do the next day (e.g. tomorrow, I intend to run 3 miles along the river without stopping, I intend to stay focused with each patient I am helping at work, and I intend to meditate for 20 minutes in the morning). My nightly lists became a fun, easy opportunity to see how I could reach small feats on a daily basis. If I didn’t end up meeting one of my intentions, I wouldn’t beat myself up too much because it would always feel good that I had met the other two intentions. The “next day” lists soon turned into me listing weekly three things that I intended for the week ahead and monthly three things I intended for the month ahead.

My intention setting lists for the day, week and month ahead soon transformed. I have always been fascinated with the cycle of the moon and started collaborating my intention setting lists with moon phases. I would do a New Moon intention setting and then a Full Moon intention setting. Coordinating intention settings with the moon phases seemed to come really naturally and conveniently given that there is always one new moon and one full moon every month. In my research on intention setting ceremonies, I discovered that the New Moon is a powerful time to write out what you would like to attract since it marks the beginning of a new cycle and the Full Moon is a time to write out what you would like to release yourself from because it marks the completion of a cycle. These practices using the moon cycle have been around for ages, taken from Pagan and indigenous cultures.

I have watched a multitude of things shift and shed in my life in the last five months since starting this practice and I know that most have resulted from the power of intention setting ceremonies. I let go of the two unhealthy relationships that were in my life and am enjoying my single life, finding beauty in self-love. I have been making very healthy decisions on a daily basis due to living more intentionally. I had wrote down an intention about how I wanted to stay in and cook more in order to save more money, I have been sticking to this pretty well. I have also been good about reaching intentions of staying vigilant in my daily meditation practice, one week I reached my intention of meditating twice a day instead of once a day for one whole week.

I would love to start a community of like-minded people that participate in intentional living practices. I would be more interested in hearing from anyone that has read this far. Do you participate in any moon calendar rituals or ceremonies? Do you practice intentional-based living in your own way? Please comment below or send me a message and let me know!