Intentions, Neurochemistry and the Law of Attraction

by Tiffany Harelik, MA, RYT

In yoga, setting an intention (Sankalpa) is a powerful practice often done at the beginning of a session. This intention can be a specific goal or a broader aspiration. It serves as a guiding force throughout the practice, helping to keep the practitioner’s mind focused and aligned with their deeper purpose.

What is an intention?

  • An intention focuses energy. 
  • It is the seed that forms a future development. 
  • An intention illustrates your determined desire. 
  • Intentions act as a guiding force, keeping us motivated and oriented towards our goals.
  • Intentions set the energetic tone for how your wish will be carried forward. 
  • Intent describes our determination and resolve to complete something. 

Intentions and the Brain

  • When we set an intention, the Prefrontal Cortex is activated. The PFC is involved in goal-setting, decision making, planning, and executive functioning.
  • The Anterior Cingulate Cortex is also activated during intention setting. This area monitors any conflicts between our intentions and our actions, ensuring alignment with our goals.
  • The brain doesn’t know fact from fiction. It needs to hear something three times to believe it. Setting intentions is rewiring neural pathways in the brain to believe your desired intention is true, possible, and already complete. Writing and stating your intention outloud three times will enhance your intention setting practice.

Intentions and Neurochemicals

  • Setting intentions triggers a dopamine release in the brain’s reward system
  • Dopamine motivates action and reinforces goal-directed behavior, making it more likely to achieve our intentions.
  • Setting Intentions positively impacts serotonin levels, promoting feelings of well-being and confidence.
  • Serotonin regulates mood and emotional states, fostering a positive mindset conducive to goal pursuit.

Benefits of setting intentions

  • Setting intentions repeatedly strengthens neural connections associated with our goals, facilitating habit formation.
  • Through neuroplasticity, our brains adapt to support behaviors aligned with our intentions, making them more automatic over time.
  • In addition to setting intentions, it can support your psychic development to meditate and practice your work in the same place at the same time each day/week.

Intention and the Spiritual Law of Attraction

  • The Spiritual Law of Attraction is associated with the concept of “like attracts like.” Our thoughts, feelings, and intentions attract corresponding events and circumstances into our lives. Everything is made of energy, and our personal energy vibrations influence the energy around us. 
  •  We know from quantum physics that the observer affects the experiment. This means how you feel about,  and interact with your intentions – has an effect on the outcome. 
  • Intention setting provides a clear, focused, and positive arrow towards our desire or goal. When we set an intention, we channel our energy toward that specific aim, which helps to align our thoughts, emotions, and actions with what we want to achieve. This alignment increases the likelihood of that intention coming to fruition. 
  • Setting intentions creates a boomerang of energy to come back to us. 
  • Worrying is like praying for something we don’t want. 
  • Focusing on our desired outcome, in alignment with God’s will – will absolutely come to fruition in God’s timing.

Where can intentions go wrong?

  • We have free will. However, when we force our will over God’s will we are rarely satisfied. Intertwining intention setting, free will, and God’s will require you spend time in prayer and meditation – building a friendship with Spirit to attain discernment.
  • Knowing the motivation behind your intent is key. Are you setting an intention to create money because you are afraid of not having any? The root of your intention is fear, and you may haphazardly create more of that which you don’t want: fear of not having enough. Are you setting an intention to become more psychic so you can control your life and everyone else’s in it? The underlying desire for control comes from a lack of trust. Control is a coping mechanism we develop when we don’t trust our environment, or authority figures. 
  • You will learn more about your motivations later this week when we start the spiritual inventory process. For now, starting with the foundation of setting intentions that are in alignment with God’s will is what will work best. If you don’t believe in a Higher Power, and do not want to trust that Higher Power, this is where your spiritual work must stay before moving forward into intention setting.

How to set an intention

  • Consider what you want to achieve. 
  • Ask Spirit to bless it with green lights / or block it if it’s not for you. Pray through your desires. Ask Spirit to illuminate the wish of your heart that is most in alignment with God’s will for your life. 
  • Write your intention. Phrase your intention in a positive way, that indicates the outcome is already complete.
  • Write or speak your intention three times. 
  • Embody your intention – feel the emotions as though it has already occurred. Visualize what will be happening once your intention is complete – use all five senses, notice the environment, the people, yourself, etc. 
  • Take action towards your intention coming true.
  • Trust the process. Let go of the outcome. Patiently wait for it to unfold in divine timing – look for synchronicities and signs. 
  • Continue to state or write your intention daily with gratitude that ‘this or something greater’ is on the way. Every day, write down things you are grateful for, focusing on aspects related to your intention. Express gratitude for the positive outcomes as if they have already happened. This shifts your mindset to a positive state, attracts more of what you are grateful for, and strengthens your intentions.