During my early days living in Austin after fleeing Mexico with my family for our safety, I created a display with several dozen colorful little round boxes from India. I attached the boxes to the wall. On white scrap paper, I wrote a good intention for each box:
Speak your truth.
In keeping with Mexican tradition, I also invited a priest to come and bless our new house. But he didn’t know my family like our priest in Monterrey did, so his prayers were the sort of generic one-Christ-fits-all invocations he would offer to anyone, and rang empty to me.
I told this story to a spiritual healer who said, “Your true intentions are worth more than any formal blessing. Perhaps you could think about what those silent prayers meant to you and act on that meaning.”
I sat down with my daughters. Lore and Paty were five and three years old then. We folded little cards of glossy white paper and decorated the edges with glitter and glue, and I assigned one card to each room in the house. Inside each card, I wrote a few words that captured the spirit of my intentions, a vision of the space and what our well-blessed life would look like there. I lit a candle and went from room to room with my precious little girls, reading the words out loud together:
Library: Knowledge, Encouragement, Foundations, Intrigue, Respect, Amazement. I thought of everything I wanted my children to take from a room full of books, maps, and art.
Bedroom: Rest, Peace, Healing, Intimacy, Growth
Kitchen: Nourishment, Sharing, Family, Friends, Love
In the years since, I have discovered the full extent of the power of intention and have drawn on it in times of need. After a surgeon’s mistake left me with a lifetime of medical issues, I set the intention to create and make positive experiences out of a very hard and unfortunate one. It has not been easy, but it has been infinitely rewarding — opening new doors and setting me down new paths, like writing books and spreading the message that loss and pain can serve a higher purpose: one of promoting forgiveness as a force for personal and universal change.
I’ve learned, too, that it takes intention to set intention. Some of the tools and techniques I’ve used are:
Making the conscious decision to be present in each moment, including focusing all of my intention on whatever place or situation I am in right now, and never getting ahead of myself.
Opening myself up to the best versions of all possible outcomes by seeing the best version of myself in whatever scenario lies ahead.
Using objects and emblems as focal points to channel the power of my intention. For example, crystals, which help direct and influence our body’s energy towards greater health when used with the right intention. Or the light of a candle’s flame. I also love bracelets engraved with words of intention — such as the intention to forgive.
As for the boxes from India filled with the good intentions I wrote on scrap paper after moving to Austin, they form an art installation that’s still there today on a wall in my home: my cloud of good intentions. Over the years, those scraps have whispered to me, reminding me that intention is there, whether we see it or not.