Practice: What Are My Intentions for Today?

A daily intention-setting practice, from Sylvia Boorstein.

Sylvia Boorstein
2 November 2017
The deity Tara, known as the “mother of all the buddhas,” represents the union of emptiness and compassion. One of her intentions is to rescue all beings from fear. Photo courtesy of the Norton Simon Art Foundation.

Here is a set of intentions based on traditional Buddhist precepts. Some people I know have them taped to their bathroom mirror and say them aloud each morning:

On behalf of myself and all beings,
I intend to refrain from consciously hurting anyone.
I intend to refrain from overtly or covertly taking what is not mine.
I intend to be sure that my speech is kind as well as true.
I intend to refrain from addictive behaviors that confuse my mind and lead to heedlessness.

My own experience is that saying specific vows evokes an awareness of ways in which I may have broken them. I leave time between each vow for my mind to do a moral inventory. I find that in the context of a relaxed mind, these discoveries feel like gentle reprimands, and I make a list of amends I want to make.

Recite your intentions every morning and they will guide your day. You and everyone you encounter will benefit.


photo of Sylvia Boorstein

Sylvia Boorstein

Sylvia Boorstein is a psychologist and leading teacher of Insight Meditation. Her many best-selling books include Pay Attention, for Goodness’ Sake and Happiness Is An Inside Job.