SANKALPA – A Guide for the New Year
What is it you wish for or desire in this New Year? Perhaps developing a Sankalpa can help you achieve that. Sankalpa? What is that, you ask? When we break apart Sankalpa - the Sanskrit word for intention - we get Kalpa which means vow or “the rule to be followed above all other rules” and San which refers to a connection with the highest truth. Sankalpa, then, is a vow or statement that supports our highest truth. Figuring that out as this New Year begins sounds like a good idea to me! How ‘bout you? Read on to learn more…
Nationally renowned Yoga Teacher Rod Stryker of Para Yoga states that “By definition, a Sankalpa should honor the deeper meaning of our life. A Sankalpa speaks to the larger arc of our lives, our dharma—our overriding purpose for being here.” The Sankalpa becomes a statement you can call upon to remind you of your true nature and guide your choices.
Believing that you already are who you need to be to fulfill your life’s purpose, path, or dharma is the essence of tantric yoga philosophy, from which this concept sprung and it is fertile ground into which to place your Sankalpa for success. Yoga experts say that “All you need to do is focus your mind, connect to your most heartfelt desires, and channel the divine energy within.” After that… your true nature unfolds.
Richard Miller, a prominent Yoga Nidra facilitator who works with Veterans returning from war, states that Sankalpa “doesn’t come from the intellectual mind. The resolve comes from deep within us, directly out of the mystery of who we ultimately are. It then informs our mind of a particular direction that we need to take, or are taking in our life.” By giving our mind a focus, our deepest intentions begin to manifest with very little effort on our part.
According to the ancient tradition of Kashmir Shaivism, a practice of nonduality, we already are exactly what it is we’d like to be. As such, a Sankalpa arrives with everything needed to fully realize it. According to ancient Hindu belief, the feminine power of manifestation – or Shakti Energy - resides within each of us. There are three forms of this creative energy - iccha, kriya, and jnana – which work together to bring about Sankalpa. Iccha is the will and energy inherent in manifestation; Kriya is action; and Jnana refers to the wisdom related to manifesting that action. Richard Miller states that “These are all aspects of the Divine, and they live within us. When the true Sankalpa comes in, we awaken these three qualities of the Divine.” Miller says “You don’t have to ask where you’ll find the will or energy to do it. The energy and will is already there. The Sankalpa informs us of the action we’re willing to take into the world.”
Sankalpa can be big or little; something that represents “a heartfelt desire” or eternal quality of being or a more immediate need or interest. The “big” statement would reflect your true nature. Consider this your “Maha Sankalpa” – or “The Great Vow of Truth.” Intentions of this nature might be phrased like this: “I am peace itself,” or “Love and Light radiate from my entire being.” Sankalpa can also be used to reflect a specific, less overarching or shorter term intention or goal. Used this way, it helps one identify steps to achieving your heartfelt desire. To develop this Sankalpa, which may change as you reach your goals, you’ll want to identify specific steps that will help move you forward on your path toward achieving a big goal, or quality of being. This Sankalpa can be a helpful tool for directing your energy as you progress toward your larger life goals. Ideas include: “I sleep well and awake refreshed and alert every day” or “Calmness fills my entire being.”
Ready to develop your Sankalpa? Great! Ask the question – “What is it I truly desire, or what do I need to do to in order to…” and then all you need to do is listen. If everything we need to be who we are truly meant to be is already inside of us, then searching “inside” will guide us toward what we are seeking. “Your heartfelt desire is already present, waiting to be seen, heard, and felt. It’s not something you need to make up, and the mind doesn’t have to go wildly searching for it.” Start where you are. Ask your inner teacher about your heart’s desire. If it seems simple and shallow, explore what might lie beneath it. Or use it as a stepping stone as you begin to uncover what it is you really want, or your true purpose in this lifetime. Trust that overtime the steps you need to take to realize your heart’s desire will become clearer.
As you develop the phrasing for your Sankalpa, remember to keep it positive and to state it in the present tense. Remember, Sankalpa is a reflection of whom or what you already are… Keep it simple and concise so you can easily recall and repeat it throughout the day as a reminder.
Applying the Sankalpa - Most Effective with a Yoga Nidra practice
Sankalpa is most effective when the body, breath and mind have become quiet. Utilizing the practice of Yoga Nidra, a guided, meditative somatic relaxation practice helps seed the Sankalpa in fertile ground. Yoga Nidra is a systematic process for relaxing the body, enhancing the natural breath, and shifting brain waves into a more relaxed state so that one becomes receptive to the power of Sankalpa.
Yoga Nidra, as a transformative practice of deep relaxation and meditative inquiry:
● releases negative emotions and thought patterns
● calms the nervous system
● develops a deep capacity to meet any and all circumstances you may encounter in life.
Research has shown what yogis have known for thousands of years: that Yoga Nidra effectively reduces a whole host of physical and mental health issues. The Sankalpa, as part of Yoga Nidra practice, plays a vital role in guiding one away from dis-ease toward to balanced and healthy state of living, being, thinking and ultimately doing in the world.
Interested in experiencing Yoga Nidra? Please JOIN US for a 5-Series practice beginning on Wednesday, January 8th from 10-11:00 am in the Mountain Wisdom Yoga Studio.
Email Sharon to register: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about Yoga Nidra and forming your Sankalpa on our website: www.MountainWisdomYoga.com.
Blessings for a bright and joyful New Year!
~ Sharon Alexander, RYI 500 hr.
Yoga Teacher, Yoga Therapist, Yoga Nidra Facilitator,
Health, Wellness and Lifestyle Coach