Setting Intent

The Importance of Setting Intent

Your intent is central to waking up.  Among other things, you need to intend to wake up.  To this end, it is important to set your intention clearly and often.  If you don’t, your preprogrammed intentions, the voices of your parents and others living rent-free inside your head, and those of bosses, advertisers, other drivers, corporate officials, and politicians will direct your life.  You will think you are in charge when in truth your decisions are pre-made for you by the internalized preferences of your childhood, work, the stars of the movies you see, news broadcasters, religious and spiritual figures and politicians. You will consider yourself to be a free agent being guided by your intuition, your higher self, soul purpose, God’s will, your conscience, destiny, dharma – whatever you choose to call it – when in fact, all these end up being remarkably similar to the preferences of many others born in similar circumstances and sharing a similar culture. Why? We are not so different from adolescents;  we are sure we are making our own autonomous decisions (think clothing, hair styles, tattoos, piercings, slang, smoking and drinking). Doesn’t a little reflection, objectivity and time show us that such decisions are internalized groupthink? In retrospect, can you see how your failure to create a life map for yourself and to follow it has allowed you to be blown across the ocean of life by winds not of your own making? Setting your intentions and creating a map is like putting sails, a rudder and an engine on your ship at sea.

Integral Deep Listening (IDL) is a process of listening to the intentions of perspectives that are attempting to be born within you. By listening to them and comparing them to your own, you both clarify your intentions and differentiate what is authentically an intention of your inner compass from the intentions of your internalized groupthink.  IDL heals, balances, and transforms your life by teaching you to listen to other perspectives that will teach you how to most quickly awaken, see and become what is true and real for you.  An infinite variety of novel, creative, and pertinent intrinsic perspectives exist, available at any time to show you where and how you are stuck and how you can most quickly become unstuck.  Together they form your transpersonal identity that personifies the evolving sacred.

Integral Deep Listening is also a form of yoga, in that it is a transpersonal discipline whose purpose is oneness with life.  It is a dream yoga in that it looks at life from the perspective of life, which does not differentiate between sleeping and waking dreams.  It views both as equally real and equally illusory.  All waking and dream events are viewed as wake-up calls to be listened to in a deep and integral way.

The sacred dimensions of life are accessed by awakening, becoming lucid and enlightened. You become transparent and luminescent.  Who you think you are, your thoughts, feelings and actions, become important functional tools that are seen to be dreamlike, in that they lack lasting reality or meaning.  You are simply another dream character in life’s dream.  You learn to look at life from its perspective rather than your own by following an integral life practice, a dream yoga, called Integral Deep Listening. By doing so you learn to see through the arbitrariness of your perspectival jail in order to grasp the joyful absurdity of all laws, structures, truths, and realities.

When you habitually become perspectives and emerging potentials that are sacred, over time you become sacred.  This is the magic of learning to listen in a way that is deep and integral, and why Integral Deep Listening  is a transpersonal yoga.

The three most important times to look at the roadmap of your life is when you wake up in the morning, before you go to sleep at night as a form of dream incubation, and before you meditate.

Waking Statement of Intent

Most waking intent is set either contextually by habit and life script or consciously by waking priorities. The former is sleepwalking groupthink while the second is psychological geocentrism. “Psychological geocentrism” is the assumption that you are the center of the universe, that the world revolves around you. We take this position when we assume our goals, priorities, intentions and map are those of God, the Divine, our soul, dharma or karma.  After all, how do we know? If we really think about it we will usually find that our goals and therefore our entire lives, rest on assumptions we just assume to be true. Perhaps someone told us they were true or we had some experience that convinced us they were true. This is very much why and how people believed in geocentrism, that the earth is the center of the universe – because everyday experience of the sun rising and setting “proves” to them that this is true.

Your waking priorities are conscious and awake only to the extent that they consult and reflect the priorities of life.  How do you know that yours do? You don’t, unless you both have a methodology that puts you in touch with the multi-perspectival priorities of your life compass and then act on those recommendations in order to test them. Otherwise, aren’t you simply acting on pre-personal belief and calling it “intuition,” “God’s will,” “the divine plan,” your “still small voice,” your heart, or your “soul’s contract?”  Without a method – IDL calls it both a yoga and an integral life practice – that you test, won’t you be running on automatic, thinking and feeling in stereotyped, highly predictable patterns most of the time, even when you feel spontaneous and alive? This is the reality of actors in a play, is it not?  While you are awake in a dramatic sense, you are less awake in a sacred sense.  Are you not unconsciously incompetent, from the perspective of life?  Aren’t you either not conscious of your incompetence or doing your best to hide or repress your fears that you really are incompetent? This is the common human predicament, so don’t feel too special!

IDL uses six core qualities linked to the six stages of every breath to access and amplify  awakening, lucidity and enlightenment.  As such, they point us toward priorities of life. You can play a game each day of rating your experience of each of them as a way to make waking up in your life your priority.

Confidence, empathy, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing are associated with the six stages of every breath: abdominal inhalation, chest inhalation, the pause between inhalation and exhalation, chest exhalation, abdominal exhalation, and the pause between exhalation and inhalation. These are explained here  and in Waking Up. Reminding yourself of each of these six core qualities daily will help you to more quickly internalize and align yourself with priorities of your life compass. If you operationalize them, by rating yourself zero to ten, you now have a way to subjectively monitor your progress at increasing your growth into them in a balanced way. It is much more important to have balanced moderate scores than high ones. This is because balance is necessary for transformation. Your scores will naturally raise relative to each other as you balance them.

Here is an example of a statement of intent to repeat upon awakening.  Use it as grist to get you thinking about formulating your own.  What do you want your “map” for your day to look like? What priorities do you want to remind yourself of every morning when you start your day? Write your version down and read it over when you first wake up. (An explanation follows.)

“I awaken into the gift of this day.

My intent is to recognize invitations to drama

in my thoughts, feelings, and relationships

and refuse to play.

Instead I will play the following game:

I will ask myself randomly throughout the day,

“How do I score right now, zero to ten,

in each of these qualities?





inner peace



I will give myself a number.

Whatever it is I will ask myself,

“What can I do right now to slightly raise it?”

I will then do it and rate myself again.”

You will find that the “magic” is in your increased awareness. Just reflecting on how confident or empathetic you are right now tends to increase it!

“Drama” is the IDL equivalent of Hindu avidya and Buddhist dukkha. It involves playing the roles of victim, rescuer, and persecutor. To be in drama is to suffer and experience misery, because if you play one role, such as rescuer you will eventually find yourself in the role of persecutor in the eyes of others and experience yourself in the role of victim. The object is to learn to recognize and stay out of the Drama Triangle in the Three Realms of interpersonal relationships and the exterior world, your thoughts and feelings, and your night time dreams. Another object is to learn to be a coach or helperwhich means waiting for requests for assistance instead of assuming help is required, checking to see if the help is appropriate, and stopping after the help is given, waiting for another request. By doing so you show respect: the person or group you help is autonomous, independent, and capable. An expanded explanation of the Drama Triangle and how to extricate yourself from it can be found here, here, and here as well as in Waking Up.

Notice that the emphasis is on the quality of what is done rather than on specific recommendations such as, “Practice an integral life practice,” “meditate,” love yourself,” “smile more,” “do an IDL interview.” Do whatever you choose to do in the spirit of these six qualities and see if there is not greater value in whatever you choose to do.

Now ask yourself,

“What activities, thoughts, and feelings today

are most likely to create drama

in my daily life, meditation and my dreams?

What can I do today to reduce that drama?”

Make a list.  To create the most energy, address the more challenging ones first.

Pre-Meditation Statement of Intent

Is your intent clear when you sit down to meditate?  If you don’t remind yourself of your purposes and how you intend to achieve them, competing intentions, often out of awareness, conspire to disrupt your meditation. Maybe you intend your meditation to be a time of focusing or concentrating attention, to observe breath, to relax, visualize, get guidance, or enter a higher state of consciousness.  Whatever it is, you need to remind yourself when you sit down to meditate. What is it exactly that you plan to do? What are you attempting to accomplish?

Rightly understood, meditation is a practice of bare intention, without content.  It strengthens and clarifies intent by preferring it to other aspects of experience, such as thought, emotion, visualization, sensory stimulation, relationships, or accessing different or higher states of consciousness.  Subsequently, IDL recommends that you begin every meditation session with a statement of your intent.

What follows is an example of a statement of intent in meditation based on IDL.  Use it as a source of ideas for creating your own.  When you arrive at something you like, print it out and read it over before you meditate until you can repeat it in your thoughts.

“I am here to meditate.

I am not here to






or talk to myself.

When thoughts arise, they are like clouds in the sky:

they aren’t about me.

I can choose to focus on them or on the vast spaciousness of blue.

With every out-breath I exhale whatever thoughts, feelings and images arise.

I am not here to experience the roller coaster of my emotions,

including bliss and ecstasy.

When feelings arise, they are like weather; like weather and clouds, my feelings are not about me.

With every out-breath I exhale whatever feelings arise.

I am not here to watch internal TV,

to look at anything or to visualize anything.

When images arise, they seem inconsequential, like clouds or a mirage.

With every out-breath I exhale whatever images arise.

I am not here to explore sensations

of heat and cold, pain or relaxation.

I am not here to explore kundalini or chakra energies.

When sensations arise I will treat them as I do

when they arise when I am asleep or watching a movie:

they exist, but they are relatively inconsequential.

With every out-breath I exhale whatever sensations arise.

I am not here to go into trance or

experience altered states of consciousness, whether




the subtle,


or the non-dual.

If such shifts occur they are not about me.

With every out-breath I exhale whatever state arises.”

“I am here to become the sky.

As the sky I score ten, on a scale of zero to ten, in confidence,

because I as sky am fearless, since I cannot die and nothing can hurt me.

I am completely awake and aware.

I inhale fear and unconsciousness.

As the sky I score ten in empathy,

because as sky I give myself completely to

humans, animals, trees, and minerals

for them to use me as they wish to live more fully.

I am compassionate in that I completely take in whatever they exhale.

I inhale selfishness and laziness.

As the sky I score ten in wisdom

because I am in all things and therefore know all things.

I am completely balanced between

day and night,

hot and cold.

I inhale ignorance and imbalance.

As the sky I score ten in acceptance

because I do not judge

my weather. clouds or color as good or bad

and do not judge what goes on above me or below, in the world.

I inhale non-acceptance, attachment, and addictions.

As the sky I score ten in peace of mind

because nothing affects me.

I am free.

I inhale stress and imprisonment.

As the sky I score ten in witnessing

because I observe the dramas of life and nature without identifying with them.

As the sky I am clear and empty.

I inhale enmeshment in drama and cloudiness.

“Because I am the sky,

I am transparent and luminous.

I have no self, yet I am completely



and alive.

Because I am the sky,

I both respect the laws that govern life

and experience them with joyful absurdity

because of their dreamlike nature.

Because I amd

Pre-Sleep Statement of Intent

Whether or not you remember your dreams, they are setting the emotional and mental context for tomorrow.  The dramas and stresses you undergo in your dreams tonight affect your physiology, shortening or lengthening your life.  You are incubating your dreams tonight by what you are thinking and feeling right now and as you go through your day.  Your thoughts and feelings just before you go to bed and to sleep are particularly important. Your unspoken, normal desire is probably to have a deep, uninterrupted night’s sleep, preferably without dreams or memories.  Therefore, setting intent for your sleep and dreaming can accomplish both: high quality sleep and high quality dreaming.

Typical pre-sleep incubation statements involve the desire to remember dreams or to have some sort of experience, such as a lucid dream, or a teaching by an exalted master.   Integral Deep Listening recommends that you ask yourself, “What dream activities, thoughts, and feelings are most likely to produce drama in my waking life? What can I do during my dreams tonight to reduce those things?” “What dream activities, thoughts, and feelings are most likely to produce enlightenment and growth in my waking life?  How can I be during my dreams tonight to increase them?”

IDL assumes that most dream perceptions are distorted and delusional because they are largely based on the limited and skewed perspectives of your waking identity. To get beyond these distortions, IDL recommends that you suspend your assumptions and waking perspective when you are dreaming, as much as you can, in favor of asking questions of dream characters about the nature of your dream experiences and listen to the responses. Here is an example of a pre-sleep statement of dream intent.  Use it to craft your own.  Write yours down and read it over before you go to sleep until you can do it automatically.

“When I am sleeping tonight I will have experiences that will seem real.

My intention in these experiences is to ask questions of the people I meet or of the experiences themselves.

My intention will not be to draw conclusions but simply to ask questions as a humble, respectful supplicant.

I will listen to the answers, and I will ask more questions.

By asking questions my intent is to stay out of drama so that I may learn and grow.

By asking questions my intent is to awaken more fully and completely”

gain, notice that there is little emphasis on what to do.  There is no statement to remember dreams or to keep a pen and pencil by one’s bed.  There are no “signs” to look for in dreams that will induce lucidity.  There is no instruction to be thankful pre-sleep to reduce dream drama.  There are so many good and relevant suggestions that can be made that each suggestion easily gets lost in a maze of signifiers, with the result being that we get overwhelmed, paralyzed by “oughts,” and end up doing none of them.  Consequently, IDL recommends you emphasize <em>how </em>you go about dreaming rather than attempting to control it with a lot of specific steps and disciplines.  With such an approach, you can use your dream life to integrate your waking, meditative, dream, and deep sleep realities.


What factors do you think are essential for a family environment to be born into in order for you to most fully awaken to your full potentials? Your future life statement of intention should reflect those priorities.

A General IDL Statement of Intent

I am asleep, dreaming, sleepwalking,

lost in the drama of my life issues,

stuck in the perceptual realities of my

physical, mental, cultural, and social filtering.

I am here to wake up.

I do so by asking, “Is this a dream?”

See everything as a weak-up call,

Reframe your cognitive distortions,

and remember your priorities today,

Moving me from delusion and mental fuzziness to

clarity, luminosity, cosmic humor, and abundance.


I am addicted to the past and the future.

I move into the here and now as I

Neme the contents of my mind;

Stop monkeying around in the five trees (sensations, images, feelings, thoughts, and states), and

Become the processes and qualities of the round of my breath,

Moving me from personalization to

cosmic humor, luminosity, and abundance.


I have lost my way.

I find and follow my inner compass as I

Remember, become, and follow the recommendations

through triangulation

of my emerging potentials,

integrating inner and outer worlds, and

moving me from scarcity to

abundance, luminosity, and cosmic humor.






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