My dear friend Poppy Koumis and I hosted a 108 Sun Salutation Workshop last weekend at New Energy Yoga Studio in Winchester. It was such an amazing experience leading the yogis through this challenging yet energizing practice. In the workshop we discovered and created Sankalpas for the new year! A Sankalpa is a resolve that reflects our true nature in the form of a statement (For Example: “I am whole” or “I have compassion” or “With compassion for my health and all living beings, I eat a vegetarian diet”) Sankalpas offers a refreshing alternative to the New Year’s resolution. Whereas most New Year Resolutions reflect the wants of the ego or social conditioning, Sankalpas comes from deep within us, reflecting our heart’s desire and life’s dharma. New Years Resolutions have a tendency to reinforce the mistaken belief that your happiness depends on acquiring what you want while assuming that who you are is not good enough. Instead the Sankalpa practice starts from the concept that you already who you need to be to fulfill your dreams. All you need to do is focus your mind, listen to your heart, and channel the divine energy within.
The process of discovering your Sankalpa can be challenging. Some of you may already know what your life’s intention is: to help others, to gain knowledge, or to be a loving mother/father. But, sometimes it is a struggle to find your Sankalpa AND your Sankalpa can change depending on your life journey. Your Sankalpa is not something that you need to go searching for, it is not something that you need to make-up, it is not something given to you by a guru and teacher. Rather it is something that comes from deep within you. You only need to listen to hear this innermost call. This process of listening can be hard. It takes courage, a quiet mind, patience, and an openness to whatever it is you discover.
The good news is that your heartfelt desires are 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. Sometimes, even when we take the time and effort to listen, it can still feel as if the answer we hear are simply those of the desires of the ego - The need to achieve some aesthetic goal or body ideal, or the desire to get a better job or a better relationship. But that if fine. Simply start there. What you may interpret as a shallow goal may lead you to a deeper intention. It may be that you need to take a particular direction in order arrive at your true purpose.
Sankalpas are stated in the present tense as declarations of deeply held fact. Most of our desires are stated as “I want” and most New Years Resolutions are stated as “I will” or “I wont”, but these phrases lack the truth of the commitment that comes from resolve of the true self. For that reason, Sankalpas are stated in the present tense to remind us that whatever we need or want is already within us in the present moment.
Sankalpas can be used as a mantra during meditation or can be planted in the fertile soil of the mind during practices like yoga nidra (yogic sleep). The repetition of the Sankapla can awaken you to the manifestation of your true purpose and to your dharma. As we begin a new year, welcome a new beginning, may each of you find your Sankalpa and live a purposeful life filled with happiness!
Happy New Years!