“I’m going to run a marathon this year.”“I’m going to lose 10 pounds by March.” “I’m never drinking again…”
Hmmm does anyone else make grand and glorious statements of intention on new year’s morning? Before I found yoga, these annual declarations were the sum total of my experience in making a resolve to change. Sure, they were usually created with a lot of passion, but they often fizzled out before the end of the first week.
Yoga gives us access to loads of tools that can help us improve our lives. One of the most significant is the practice of sankalpa, a Sanskrit word meaning resolve or intention. Unlike regular new year’s resolutions that only hit the surface, this practice is like planting a seed deep within your mind. Through continued watering, the seed begins to grow and bloom and your resolve begins to manifest in your life.
Creating your Sankalpa
The first and most important step is the creation of your sankalpa so it pays to take the time to get it right.
- Begin by making a list of things you wish to achieve or change in your life.
- Review the list and then identify the why behind each. This will help you work out what your motivations for change are, because there is often a bigger picture perspective to consider. For example, if you wrote down “I want a bigger house” ask yourself why? What is that house actually going to give you and how will you be changed by it? (think you, not stuff).
- Rather than using the practice of sankalpa to give up negative habits such as smoking, drinking or overeating, again try looking for the why behind these habits and you will see that those compulsions are a result of something else that can be addressed. For example, a good sankalpa for compulsive overeating might be ‘I feel content right now.’ As an added bonus this message will probably take care of several other areas of your life too!
- The statement should be short, positive, and in the present tense. In my experience, simplicity is key. ‘I love and accept myself as I am right now.”
Using the Practice
- Sankalpa is used when the mind is relaxed and receptive and the alpha brain waves are dominant. It is a fundamental stage of yoga nidra and it can also be used at the end of meditation or relaxation.
- The sankalpa is mentally repeated 3 times, which allows you to plant the seed of change within the conscious, subconscious and unconscious mind.
- You work with the same sankalpa until it has manifested in your life. If you change your sankalpa every time you practice you can dilute its potency. If you want results, stick with the same one and watch it come to fruition.
Used in the right way, sankalpa can help you redefine the direction of your life and reshape areas of your personality. It is like a key that allows you to unlock the power of your mind, proving that transformation really does come from within.