“Wherever Attention Goes, Energy Flows”
In Ayurveda, there’s a natural wisdom in moving inward during winter and reflecting back upon your journey & growth in the previous year. Taking things slower, creating time for rest, relaxation & contemplation during the dark days of winter is a big part of seasonal attunement. Then when the light returns, we expand back outwards, carrying the insights gained into our lives, dharma and relationships.
Whether you participate in New Year’s Resolutions or not, they can reflect this natural cycle of contraction and expansion- going inward to enhance our outward relations (with self & others).
Then why is it so many of us create New Year’s Resolutions and have such a hard time sticking to them? They come from a good place- desires to eat healthier, prioritize fitness, create time for self-care, participate in relationships differently, be more mindful, make better financial decisions, finally loose those 10 lbs, eat less sugar (any of these sound familiar?)….all great things, right? Some sort of attempt to improve our lives. We often make them from a place within us that thinks we are not good enough or lacking in some way- that this change will make us a “better person” somehow.
For most people, change isn’t always something you can just “set your mind to.” For very long anyways. We all have desires, temptations, emotions…and then we justify behavior that isn’t always in alignment with our resolution. When we make a resolution with our intellect, it rarely brings results. Change has to come from a deeper place than just deciding to do something differently. As powerful as our minds may be, habits usually go deeper than our thoughts. Habits have an established rhythm or momentum, especially if we’ve been practicing them for a long time.
For New Year resolutions to work, for change to occur, they have to come from a place deeper than the mind- they have to come from the heart. Yoga refers to this as a Sankalpa
What is Sankalpa?
Sankalpa is often translated as a heart-felt intention, a solemn vow, or a deep seated resolve. In Sanskrit, the root “San” refers to truth, or association with the highest validity. “Kalpa” has two meanings: it’s either understood to be a very long length of time, or a ritual, commitment or vow. Both meanings can have their applications here. It’s a vow or commitment to support our highest truth for a long time to come.
The most effective Sankalpas are discovered- you don’t decide them, (that’s usually our ego talking anyways 😉) instead, they come to you. Sankalpa comes from your whole being, not just your mind, often they surface from somewhere deep within yourself.
And you might be surprised what comes up. For example, maybe you think that you need to be more productive at work, but perhaps what arises is that you actually need more quality rest so you can be present with tasks at hand. Another important thing to consider is that Sankalpa results from something you discover for yourself- not with what someone else thinks is important for you.
Creating a Sankalpa
This season I was struggling trying to find some clarity in my Sankalpa- there are many aspects of myself I’d like to be more present with….lots of heart felt goals, dharmic ambitions, ways I can love and take care of myself & others better…so much! My mind was cloudy when trying to think of a specific Sankalpa.
Ragaia Belovorac, founder of Blue Sage Ayurveda, suggested to look at Sankalpas with the perspective, “What will nourish you?” What would your life look like if you behaved differently and allowed you to have that? How can you apply more attention & bring more awareness to it?
Don’t think too hard, just ask those questions and see what comes up. Once you’ve figured out your Sankalpa, re-phrase it into a short statement. They are usually positive declarations such as “peace is my true nature,” rather than the ego-driven “I want more peace in my life.”
Sankalpas in Action
Recite your Sankalpa before you meditate, practice yoga or engage in any spiritual practice. I also use my Sankalpa throughout the day- especially during transitions between activities or when I’m about to enter a challenging situation, conversation or have significant emotions arise.
Repeat your Sankalpa & envision what it looks like as you fall asleep & again immediately upon rising in the morning- when your mind is deeply relaxed, you are better able to make an imprint on your subconscious. For most people, the moments right when entering and leaving the sleep state is the most relaxed their minds are while still conscious. This is one reason why Yoga Nidra utilizes Sankalpa during the practice.
I encourage you this year to give yourself what you need. If you don’t know what that is, then ask. Let your higher self help you discover a heart felt Sankalpa for this New Year. Happy 2020!
Love and Light, Jule