What is Intention?

Updated: Jan 10, 2020

As an energy worker, I’ve used the words “intent” and “intention” for many years, without much thought to either the meaning, or the other person’s understanding of the word, assuming the concept of intent was a universal one. One of my current Reiki students asked me to expound on “intent” and that was when I realized I hadn’t thought about the actual meaning of intent for many years.

“Intent” is derived from the Latin word “intentus”, which means attentive to, direct attention. The definition is literally “a purpose or aim”. It’s showing an earnestness and a determination to do something. It is a state of mind, where we have decided to perform a task, or have a particular state of mind. It is quite different than having Goals or performing Prayer. When we set Goals, we are preparing for the future, we look ahead to what we want and create a plan, which can consist of multiple short term goals. We are taken out of the moment and into the future, creating an emphasis on what we don’t have. The goal is often more of a concept, and the failure to achieve a goal can lead to a sense of failure, and giving up.

When you set an intention, it is in the moment, it is where you are presently living. Intention gives you purpose, motivation and inspiration to succeed.

What’s the difference between Intention and Prayer? The word “Prayer” can have negative connotations for those that do not practice organized religion, and I’ve honestly been guilty of being turned off to the term myself. Along with the religious connotations, there has also been a habit of saying “thoughts and prayers” without anything backing them, or even really remembering they said it.

When I was young and faced a test, or some other life event, my great-grandmother, a devout Catholic, would light candles for me accompanying a prayer. She would keep the candle lit all day, and every time she would pass it she would make the sign of the cross and say a small prayer. I appreciated it, and I will do the same on my alter, accompanied by ‘sending out energy’ for a particular person or situation. Both were being done with a conscious, in the moment intention as the motivation, and when that is the drive, there really is little difference between the two. In fact, we bring intent much closer to prayer by involving angels and spirit guides, but this is an entirely different discussion.

Let’s look a bit closer at Intention, specifically relating to Reiki:

Like Reiki, there are no limits with Intentions, and the energy is expansive. Reiki connects to the universal life energy that is present all around us, within everything and everyone. It is what makes distance Reiki possible. There is much research being done on this energy, as well as intention. Here is a wonderful article regarding Dr. Masaru Emoto who performed research on intention and thought influencing water: https://thewellnessenterprise.com/emoto/

I think the best example of this energy is when you enter a room where there has just been angry words. Without knowing what has happened or even seeing those present, you can ‘feel’ the oppressive energy. It’s palpable.

Setting intentions keeps you in the present, and helps you get out of your head. There have been days, weeks and even months that have gone by where I’ve barely been present, and couldn’t recall even what I had for dinner the night before. Setting an intention keeps us in the present, and allows us to be conscious of what is happening around you. This is difficult to do when you are suffering from depression or other issues. When we set our intention for a Reiki treatment, it’s usually for about an hour, and you can do the same for yourself, setting an intention for a smaller increment of time. When I’m overwhelmed, setting an intention to actually just relax and enjoy my coffee for the time it takes to drink it can be enough to illicit calm and focus to tackle the rest of the day in a mindful way.

Setting intentions can make you more effective. Unlike goals that deal in the future, intentions deal in the moment, as soon as you sent an intention, you’re giving it energy and moving it, making it happen.

“Every journey begins with the first step of articulating the intention, and then becoming the intention.” ― Bryant McGill, Voice of Reason

Intentions can include global contributions. This is more than tweeting “thoughts and prayers”, it is actual action. Setting an intention can make a difference by keeping it on the forefront of your mind and actions. I have set an intention to reduce my single use plastic consumption. Since setting my intention, over time I’ve had the ability to organically reassess my habits, and make little changes I wouldn’t have addressed if I were just to make a list. You can set an intention to always speak up when you hear a racist or xenophobic comment. The Butterfly Effect is real, and small changes can make a difference over time.

So, after all of that, why is it more important to be of pure intention than having perfect action, and what exactly does it all mean with regard to a Reiki treatment?

“Intention is one of the most powerful forces there is. What you mean when you do a thing will always determine the outcome. The law creates the world.” ― Brenna Yovanoff, The Replacement

When you’re sending out Reiki, it is important that you have a clear, set intention. It can be a general healing of the body and/or mind, balancing of the chakras, etc. It can also be more specific, such as healing a specific body part or emotional imbalance. It is the intention that connects to the Reiki energy. Yes, the symbols help us focus and channel the energy, and the hand positions do the same, but the intention that drives it all is what is most important.

When I set an intention to use Reiki to help a recipient, I am doing everything within my power to send that healing energy to them. This is where the client needs to also set the intention to RECEIVE the energy. I can send all the energy I want, and some will get through, but if the recipient is also open with the intention to receive the direct line is clear and fast. This is why we are attuned, it helps clear that connection from practitioner to recipient.

Everyone is unique, with different processes to get the same outcome, and I'd like to offer this final example. When I was memorizing lines for a play I needed to write them down by hand, over and over again until they were committed to memory. My husband would record the lines on his phone, in order to listen to them over and over until they were memorized. Different paths that lead to the same destination. This absolutely counts with Reiki as well. You may have physical limitations that don’t allow you to hold a particular hand position, or you may prefer a little different position because it ‘feels’ right for you. As long as that intention is pure and deliberate, the energy will flow right where it needs to go!

“All great acts are ruled by intention. What you mean is what you get.” ― Brenna Yovanoff, The Replacement

Tina Taylor


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