By: Monica Ott
As we reach the end of a year filled with many ups and downs, emotions, and heaviness, something feels a little different about the coming of 2018. Usually there is a spirit of excitement and curiosity about what the new year will bring, but there seems to be a greater importance on the choices we make to support not only ourselves and our family, but the collective consciousness. Like a superhero who vows to ‘save the day,’ we are all called upon now to perform our duty of being the best version of ourselves. Rather than creating a New Year’s resolution based on the short-lived fulfillment of our desires, now is the time to create long term goals called ‘sankalpas.’
One of the most ancient yogic texts, the Rig Veda, mentions the concept of ‘sankalpa’ as a ‘principle that your mind has measureless capacity to affect the quality and the content of your life.1 Rod Stryker describes in his book ‘The Four Desires’ that ‘sankalpa’ means:”determination or will, an intention, conviction, vow, or, most commonly, a resolution, one that reflects your highest aspirations. In practical terms, a ‘sankalpa’ is a declarative statement, resolution, or intention in which you vow or commit (to yourself, your teacher, a priest, or even God) to fulfill a specific goal.” What makes a ‘sankalpa’ different from other intentions is that ‘sankalpas’ are like little seeds that sprout to nourish and support our greater path, our purpose, our ‘dharma.’ These intentions are not simply things that we desire or want to change about ourselves, they are resolutions that help us continue to awaken what’s already there; our true Self.
In order to tap into this boundless sea of possibilities, we must first learn to improve our determination and will also known as ‘sankalpa shakti.’ Swami Rama says: “Overcome your resistance. Expand your capacity…you must order your body and senses to function under the leadership of your mind.”2 Through meditation, we can direct our mind to a specific intention or ‘sankalpa.’ Stryker says that one of the best ways to achieve these goals or ‘sankalpas’ is to recognize the intention in the present tense. For instance, rather than stating ‘I want to be more health conscious,’ you should state ‘I am health conscious.’ Through repetition of stating your ‘sankalpa’ in the present tense, you can start to alter your ‘samskaras’ (impressions & habits) and create new healthy patterns that ultimately come from the heart, the seat of our sankalpa.
As we continue on our path, sometimes we fall ‘off the wagon’ which leads us down the dark road of punishing ourselves, throwing our hands up in the air, and giving up. Instead, accept the misstep and let the mind become the observer so that we can begin to understand why we ‘slipped up’ and how we can put ourselves back on track without judgement. This continues to keep our ‘sankalpa’ as a more permanent goal that we can achieve over time. The more we see ourselves reach our goals, the greater our desire is to set more intentions and the more our determination gets stronger, the brighter and less dull we become. If we all allow ourselves to truly follow our path, understand our purpose, and experience our progress, then there’s no telling how strong we can become together.
Practice:Yoga Nidra-You can start by lying down comfortably on your back and once you settle in, start to create a ‘sankalpa.’ Remember to repeat it to yourself in the present tense. Once you’ve created this, start to scan the body starting from the right foot moving up the right side of your body slowly. You can even silently repeat each part of your body. Once you make your way to the crown of the head, stop. Start again from the left foot moving up the left side of your body slowly. Stop when you get to the crown and then feel both sides of the body merging into one. Begin to focus on the third eye. You can stay in this savasana like state for however long you’d like but try not to fall asleep. The ‘sankalpa’ will start to seep into the mind.
1.’The Four Desires’ by Rod Stryker pg. 82
2.’The Four Desires’ by Rod Stryker pg. 82