Would you like to improve your spiritual practices? Intention may be the key.
arrow icon

Would you like to improve your spiritual practices? Intention may be the key.

Would you like to improve your spiritual practices? Intention may be the key.

Would you like to improve your spiritual practices? Intention may be the key.

THE CURANDERISMO SPIRITUAL tradition that was practiced before and is still practiced today is rich in rituals, ceremonies, healings, danzas, and other events that require strong spiritual energies. These energies connect us to ourselves, to others, to the earth, and to the universe. You can improve these spiritual energies with the singular practice of setting up a powerful intention.

Many times, I get questions like, “What am I doing wrong in my spiritual practice that's preventing my rituals from manifesting? Why do I sometimes feel the strong presence of my ancestors and sometimes not?” These situations are quite common and quite easy to “fix.”

The key is the quality of our intention. Let me explain a little bit about intention, and then I will teach you a technique to improve it. By the way, I am the kind of person who first needs to make sense of what I’m doing before I put it into practice, and I strongly suggest that you do the same. Question everything, and have an open heart; give it a try before you make any judgments. Everyone is different, so you may need to modify what I am going to teach you here in order for this technique to work better for you. I have been a curandera since the 1980s, and also I studied science, so with both approaches I would like to share what I know about intention and how I apply it into my daily practice.

Understanding Intention

Let’s say that you want to build a fire, and intention is your fire-starting fluid. If you don’t have it, your fire may start fast or may not. It is like tossing a coin. On the other hand, if you have starting fluid and you use it every time, your fire is going to always start strong. 

Intention is what is going to give to your ceremony a strong start, and from there it is going to be easy for you to keep it going strong. It is important to take the time to set up intention and not rush into your spiritual practices. 

When we pray, we are often asking for something—whether healing, strength, energy, or courage—and, sadly, many times we are just reciting words that have no energy because we are not even thinking about what we are saying. Sometimes what we say has no meaning to us because we have no idea what we are saying, or because these words are in a language that we do not speak. Also, we tend to rush through our prayers. All this mindlessness creates a prayer with no energy; there is a lack of power. The secret of a strong prayer is intention. It is what gives strength to our prayers, so they become alive and powerful. Therefore, the power of manifesting becomes stronger. 

Energy and Emotion

Everything in the universe is energy. Just think about this. We have bodies made of organs, and these of cells, and these of particles—which are energy. So we can say that we, as well as the plants and animals around us, are materialized energy or energy beings. Our ancestors understood this. With this concept in mind, if an energy being (that is, a person) is vibrating with only a little energy, or even with the ugly energy that we create when we are sad or upset, and the person puts this weak or negative energy into a ceremony, what kind of ceremony will that person have? On the other hand, if this person is vibrating with a beautiful, powerful, and high energy—like the one that we produce when we are in love—what a beautiful ceremony this person is going to have! Which person do you want to be?

If we approach our spiritual practices with the idea that everything is energy, and that the goal is to add high-quality energy to our ceremony, then the tool we use is intention, starting with prayer. 

The energies with the highest and strongest quality for creating a powerful intention are these:

  1. Love
  2. Gratitude
  3. Happiness
  4. Peace

I like to feel and move through them in this order because I have found it easier to “force myself” into feeling the energy if I approach it this way. This is what I do:

Love: I think about something super cute like a baby animal. The moment that I feel love and sense a little shift in my heart, I know I am generating the love that I need for my intention. I try to increase the intensity of this love until my whole body vibrates in love. When working in this way, it is important that we focus on something that we are not directly attached to, like our kids or our pets, because after we feel love for them, our minds may wander and start thinking about something like whether our kids have picked up their rooms or not. We want to make it easy for ourselves to stay focused.

Gratitude: I start thinking about and reciting all the things that I am grateful for until the same thing happens: I feel a shift in my heart, and I make an effort to increase this feeling until my eyes well with tears of gratitude. This energy is the strongest that we can create. It doesn’t always happen, but with practice, it will happen more often.

And then I follow the same process for happiness and peace.

With this practice of guiding yourself through the emotions that you want to feel, you are training your body into new ways of being. Try to keep these emotions of love, gratitude, happiness, and peace vibrating in your body as long and often as you can. The more you stay in these energies, not only will your spiritual practices improve but your overall life will improve because you will be spending more time vibrating in beautiful energies instead of being worried, anxious, or depressed. You need to be persistent, as you would when training your dog, for example, until it becomes second nature.

Reasons for Setting an Intention

There is something more that I would like to tell you before I share the specific technique of setting an intention. The practice of intention has three main purposes:

To clarify for ourselves what exactly we are seeking

We are not really good at knowing what we want. Usually, the prayers are “I need help…" Ask yourself: Where? In what department you need help? What kind of help? So if you give yourself time to think about what it is you're really seeking, you will clarify your mind and your intention is going to be straightforward. Instead of saying “I need help," try “I want clarity in this situation….”

To charge our prayer with high-quality, powerful energy

As I explained, we want to charge our ceremony with the emotions of love, gratitude, happiness, and peace. This makes our ceremony more powerful.

For the spirits to hear us

The practice of intention helps us call for the attention of our spirit helpers, ancestors, the great mystery—the source power that has many names. Intention is a tool to make our voice heard in the universe. To send our desire or petition out. To attract attention or awaken our spiritual helpers so they can come and participate in our spiritual practices with us.

Like what you’re reading?

The Practice of Intention

1. If possible, play music that inspires you to be calm.This is the time to look inward. Turn off any external distractions; silence your phone.

2. Close your eyes, taking a moment to “feel” how different and peaceful it is to have the eyes closed.

3. Take three very slow and deep breaths, trying to fill the bottom of your lungs. Inhale and exhale slowly.

4. With either hand, take a little bit of tobacco or some dry herbs—like lavender, sage, rosemary, basil, rose petals, a combination of all of them, or imagine them, if you don’t have any. In the Curanderismo tradition, it is believed that these plants have energy that can help us communicate more deeply with the spirit realm, and focus with concentration and a sense of calm.

5. Place your hand with the herbs at the center of your chest. That is the area known as the heart chakra.Take another deep and slow breath.

6. Very slowly, start directing your attention to a high-energy emotion: love, gratitude, happiness, or peace.

7. Then, also very slowly, start your prayer, being careful that you genuinely mean what you are saying. If you are reciting a prayer in another language, make sure you say it first in your native language and then in the other language.

8. At the end of each sentence from your prayer, add a vibration of any of the emotions. Once you feel the emotions, transfer them to your body until it is vibrating. This is a very important step because this vibration is creating electromagnetic energy that will help you manifest what you are asking for.

9. Carry on with your prayer until you are done.Remember not to rush. By the end, your body should be vibrating, and from there you are going to send gratitude to the Universe, to the spirits, to your ancestors, to everyone for hearing your prayer and making it happen.

10. If you are conducting a ceremony or ritual, empowering a place or a spiritual tool, asking for healing, or something similar, you can cup your hands and transfer all of these beautiful energies into your hands and into the mixture of herbs.Then you can offer these herbs by placing them on your altar (if you have one), placing your hands on the part of the body that you want to heal, or offering the herbs to Mother Earth.

11. Finish by staying for a moment still just feeling this beautiful energy that you have created.

Practice, Practice

Listo! Now you know how to empower yourself and your spiritual practices with intention. The only way to know if this technique works for you is to practice. Don’t just practice once. Do it several times until you have the feeling that you can do it without looking at these notes, and from there, feel free to make any changes that better suit you. Curanderismo is a beautiful tradition; when you practice it, you can see the results right away. Open your heart and give it a try!

Comparto esto con humildad, amor, respeto y luz . Que las enseñanzas de nuestros antepasados estén presentes en ti. I share this with humbleness, love, respect, and light. May the teachings from our ancestors be with you,

Ixtoii Paloma Cervantes, Curandera

Inset: Photo of Ixtoii Paloma Cervantes praying with intention in a field of fiddleneck flowers. © Ixtoii Paloma Cervantes.

Continue Reading

All Issue Contents

From thE Community Marketplace

Would you like to list your business or product? Learn more.

For the healing of people and planet.

Ofrenda Magazine is a grassroots-funded organization dedicated to sharing wisdom with a lens on Latinx and Xicanx spirituality, healing, earth care, and justice.

If you enjoy the content, consider supporting this work in the spirit of reciprocity. Your tax-deductible donations help us produce the magazine, offer the web version free to all visitors, and pay our contributors and staff.

Thank you. Gracias. Tlazocamati.

Donate Today