When it comes to making my New Year’s resolutions, let’s face it: mine just don’t stick. More often than not I abandon them within weeks and they fade away in the busyness of life. This is often because my resolve has been only made on an intellectual level, and not planted deeply enough in my subconscious mind. Changing habits is not easy, even when you know your behaviour is not good for your wellbeing.
Let me share with you another way to avoid these nagging ‘should do’s’ (I should lose weight, I should do more exercise) and learn to use the seed sankalpa. A seed needs watering to take growth. But first you need to identify the sankalpa seed and then sow it in the bed of your mind.
Sankalpa: Sowing the seed of change
A sankalpa informs us of the actions we’re willing to take into the world and arrives naturally from our deepest intentions. Discovering your resolve or sankalpa is a process of listening to and opening your heartfelt desires. It is already there waiting to be heard. To create the flow of life that reflects your sankalpa requires a practice that draws the mind again and again into our dharma or life purpose. Your dharma doesn’t have to be lofty, but in some way feel right for you and contribute in some way.
‘The resolve comes from a deep place 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’ Richard Miller
Yoga teaches us that all questions involving wisdom or intuition come from a place within. And unless we have a regular quiet space to attend to our mind, we miss our valuable sankalpa messages.
So the first step in arriving at a sankalpa is to learn to quiet the mind through meditation.
Your sankalpa needs to be positive language, in present time, and reflect your feelings. Here are some examples of a sankalpa:
‘I am calm and at peace’
‘I love this body’
‘I nurture my wellbeing on every level’
Plant your seed: finding quiet
A variety of yoga tools can be learnt during a class setting or in your personally designed home practice, but the most important first practice is to learn pratyahara, the turning of the senses inward.
You may have come across some Yoga Nidra CDs and used this systematic method of inducing relaxation on all levels. Each of Kendra Healing Arts’ classes uses this practice as a thorough, yet simple way of developing a quiet mind. Think of it as creating a firm grounded platform in which to become the observer of your minds busyness or physical tensions.
Water your seed: persistence and practice
Many people give up on meditation too early, because they think that having a busy mind means that they aren’t ‘doing it right’ and therefore aren’t benefiting from the practice. The fact is, recognising and learning to observe the chitter-chatter of your mind is the first step towards quieting it down. A daily practice, even for 10 minutes, can reset the clarity and calm you need to stay positive and productive.
So whenever you find yourself slipping back into some behaviour or habit that no longer serves you, breathe and affirm your sankalpa. Develop this mindful space and allow it to nourish both your intention and sense of letting go.
Watch it grow: being mindful and grateful
Repeating your affirmation on a daily basis, preferably first thing in the morning and before sleeping, helps build momentum and will give you strength.
Dr Swami Shankardev, a medical doctor and yoga Acharya (authority), says:
‘As you develop a more conscious yogic relationship with your inner life, you will find that you can trust your feelings more and more each time that you dive into yourself’
From my experience, I have had sankalpas rise out of meditation like a slap in the face, yet manifest in my life in very subtle ways. Like seeds, our sankalpa rises from our essence and flowers at a time of truth and purpose.
Inspired by the writings of Swami Satyananda, Richard Miller, Dr Swami Shankardev