‘The purpose of Sankalpa is to influence and transform the whole life pattern, not only physically but also mentally and spiritually’Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Every year, when the 1st of January rolls around many of us choose to make New Year’s resolutions. But truly, how long do we keep up our hastily made promises? One of the reasons that they fail is that sometimes we make resolutions that require an infeasible amount of hard work and a lot of willpower. Another reason is that sometimes the mind is not ready to receive a particular resolution and needs to be suitably prepared- this is where yoga nidra (yoga sleep) and Sankalpa come along.
So, what is Sankalpa?
Sankalpa is an alternative way of approaching resolutions, resolves or affirmations.
San means together/union, and Kalpa means possibilities within us. Sankalpa is a short statement or affirmation which is repeated in the subconscious mind when it is receptive and sensitive to suggestion during yoga Nidra. It has a more profound and more personal meaning than ordinary resolutions and is perhaps the most effective way of training the mind. It is a powerful method of reshaping our desires and direction in life along positive lines.
The resolve or affirmation is compared to a seed planted in the subconscious at the start of the practice and watered towards the end. In both cases, it will be mentally repeated three times. For success, the Sankalpa needs to be planted with strong willpower, faith, conviction and feeling.
Once the seed of Sankalpa is planted in the subconscious, it gathers the vast forces of the mind to bring about its fruition. This powerful seed will eventually manifest itself again and again at a conscious level and bring about changes in your personality and your life.
Finding and stating Sankalpa.
The Sankalpa should be a simple sentence of two to three words with straightforward meaning.
The words should be positive and affirmative, and ideally, they should be stated in the present tense. We consider and believe that the Sankalpa is already occurring in our lives and is present at this moment in time- we just need to access it. Discovering Sankalpa is a process of listening. Our earnest and sincere desires are already present in us and we just need to wait and listen for them to be heard
During my classes, I suggest to beginners to listen for something material to start with. Nothing emotional or too spiritual. Further into their practice, they might practice and work with something deeper. Sometimes, Sankalpa doesn’t occur when we want it to occur, and this is ok. There is no need to seek harder. It is in us, and it will rise and occur in good times and the most unexpected moments during our life. In this new year, we must try to be more patient and more attentive.
I will include Yoga Nidra and Sankalpa in all my Mindful yoga classes. Please click here to find out more about my class schedule.
Thank you to my mentors, Swami Pragyamurti Saraswati and Swami Brahmananda, from the Satyananda Yoga Centre in London.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Yoga Nidra ( published by Bihar School of Yoga 1976)
N.C Panda, Yoga Nidra yogic trance, Theory, practice and application ( published by D.K Printworld (p) LTD 2003)
Kelly McGonigal, Inspired intention, the nature of Sankalpa ( article published in yogainternational.com 2013)