New Year’s resolutions have never really been my thing. A resolution sets off with an outer focus on something out there that’s already separate from who you are right now. “I will…” I focus my willpower and decide on a course of action to follow and pledge to change not just what I do, but, in essence, who I am too. Most of the time, a resolution comes from a lack mentality, based on something I perceive is wrong with me. The assumption being that I am not good enough as I am, with some guilt and shame thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, I know too well that the outer is completely outside my sphere of influence. Even my own skin, body and hair keep changing on me.
Surrender is a strong lesson my yoga practice has taught me. When I impose “my will” nothing ever turns out right. The yogic philosophy of sankalpa offers a refreshing alternative to help us to softly refocus your drishti. This compassionate yogic tradition is a profound formula for realizing your heartfelt passions without having to change the true essence of who you are. The Sanskrit word sankalpa is a compound word comprised of the root San, meaning “a connection with the highest truth,” and Kalpa, meaning “vow.” It can thus translate to “devoted resolve,” and begins with inner focus, trust and surrender to your true nature.
A sankalpa practice is rooted in the concept that you already are who you need to be to fulfill your dharma, your true nature. This notion turns inward to consciously connect with your heart’s deepest intention. It is a devoted resolve toward an inner vision and a calm focused mind is the means to stoke your inner source of inspiration; your raison d’etre; your reason why! Unlike a goal, sankalpa is not a personal need to accomplish ego-driven worldly pursuits. It is a deep intent, consciously guiding your thoughts and actions like a compass; a guiding light illuminating you every step of the way.
A sankalpa infuses you with positive energy and a strong inner desire fuels your intention to commit to your practice. Because the heart whispers while the mind shouts, sankalpa is most resonant during yoga nidra, a state of very deep relaxation. When the monkey mind is stilled, your sankalpa is written on your subconscious clearly for your heart and mind to follow. It may also be repeated in the morning, before meditation, or at the beginning of any yoga asana practice to set the proper foundation for our efforting.
The practice of sankalpa involves deep inner listening, inner stillness and inner seeing. Turning the soft focused gaze of your drishti upon a sense of empowering wholeness, elemental wellness and radiant health, ignites your enthusiasm and passion to live life up to your truest desire. Bring to mind a quality you’d like to see more of in your life. Keep it simple. One word… Gratitude… Grace… Forgiveness… Soften… Trust. Gently rest the focus of your inner eye upon your hope, without grasping, without expectations, without attachments. Where your attention goes energy flows.
“You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is , so is your destiny.” – Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
During your seated meditation, sankalpa mudra (a hand gesture) connects the right and left sides of your brain so the mind, spirit and body can work cooperatively to bring about the desired change. In this mudra, your left hand rests palm up on your right thigh, your right hand covers the left, palm down. Repeat your personal sankalpa internally as you would a mantra. Every time you gently set your attention upon your sankalpa you nourish it with the light of your soul (sol); invigorate it with the water of your love and ground its roots deeper in the soil of your heart.
We plant a sankalpa into our heartearth with all of the joy and hope we plant a seed in the spring. “May I be…” There is something so much more freeing about this. It feels so expansive and spacious. There is something so much more comforting here. Use your own words… Flow into the natural rhythm of your pulse. Soften your heart. Still your mind. Breathe into your sankalpa, nurture it, and trust it to grow and blossom. Without any drama. There’s no need for anxiety or control. Dissolve unconscious limiting patterns of behavior within a self-created, self-maintained, self-sourced space of deep compassion, love and acceptance for all that is right now… for now.
I am a sojourner here… a soul journeyer. Not all who wonder here are lost now. Some of us are unafflicted by our wonderlust. May I be of humble service now+here in deed.