Photo: Keely Thomson, Hatha Yoga Teacher, 432 Yoga Studio
New Year’s resolutions are like a bunch of pretty flowers.When you receive them, your face lights up with excitement. You race around to find your best vase and the perfect spot to display them.Every time you see the flowers, you feel happy. They brighten the whole room and fill you with fondness for the person who presented them.But after a few days, a week maybe, the flowers start to fade and droop. They might even begin to smell funny... It’s time to take them out with the garbage. And although you’ll always remember the kind act, the actual flowers are soon forgotten.
A bunch of resolutions
Around New Year, perhaps like me, you make a bunch of resolutions. Things to stop or start doing in an effort to make the incoming year the best ever. At first, these goals feel fresh and exciting - you can’t wait to see them come to fruition.
It may go a little like this:
You want to eat better, and fill the fridge with green-smoothie ingredients.
You vow to get fitter, so purchase a 12 month gym membership and new workout gear.
You decide to write that book, and promptly clear out a writing space.
But after a while, whatever the goal, your enthusiasm dips. You lose interest.It all feels too hard.Temptations are rife.Life gets in the way. Just like your flowers, your once shiny resolutions have lost their radiance. By Autumn, your best intentions seem completely out of reach.
Sigh. It’s ok, there’s always next year, right?
Flourish, don’t fade
But there is another (better!) way to make real, positive and sustainable changes in your life! It’s possible to create goals that will unfold, rather than lie abandoned in some diary you got for Christmas. Curious?
The key to creating goals that flourish rather than fade is using a sankalpa.
What is a sankalpa?
A sankalpa is a short statement that expresses the deeper truth behind your goals, and helps you reach them in an authentic and harmonious way. To understand this yogic concept more fully, let’s break the Sanskrit word sankalpa into 2 words:
’Kalpa’, a way to proceed; and
‘San’, a concept or idea formed in the heart.
Whereas a resolution is often merely a wish stemming from a place of lack, or perceived ideals, a sankalpa shines light on an innate quality that we wish to bring forth. A sankalpa is deeper than a resolution - it’s an invitation from the heart to infuse every aspect of our life with the desired quality.
What do you do with a sankalpa?
The idea is to repeat the sankalpa to yourself regularly, particularly when the mind is relaxed and receptive. While you may recite, mentally repeat or even write down your sankalpa anytime you wish, the power of this special statement is enhanced when applied during yoga nidra practice. The deep, relaxed state achieved in yoga nidra is the perfect environment to introduce and nurture new ideas and beliefs. Your sankalpa is like a seed, and the repetition is the necessary tending to help it flourish.
A traditional yoga nidra practice includes space at the beginning and end to repeat your personal sankalpa.
Are you ready to plant your own a sankalpa for 2019?
Creating your own sankalpa is an empowering process, helping you create choice around the direction you want to take in your life this year, and beyond.
Here’s how to do it:
Find the right words
Choosing the right words for your personal sankalpa is crucial. An effective sankalpa is short, succinct, phrased in the present tense, and as if it were already true.
Let’s use the resolution examples used earlier to formulate a potential sankalpa:
Resolution: In 2019, I will eat better.
Sankalpa: I am a healthy eater, or; I make healthy choices to nourish my body.
Resolution: In 2019 I will get fitter.
Sankalpa: I honour my body with movement, or; I am strong, fit and healthy.
Resolution: In 2019, I will write my book.
Sankalpa: I am a writer, or; I easily express my story.
Can you see the difference?
Feel your way
Take your time when formulating your sankalpa, and let it land naturally. You may like to spend quiet time in meditation. Or, the right words may pop up completely out of the blue!
When the words arrive, try them on for size using your intuition and integrity. Note how the words make you feel - if you sense any fear or disbelief surrounding your sankalpa, then go back to the drawing board. If your statement makes you feel uplifted and positive, then it’s probably the right one for you.
Read the fine print
The wise yogi’s say the sankalpa you choose is bound to come true in your life. But, of course, there are a few terms and conditions! You must tend to your sankalpa regularly: like a seed, if you wish it to grow and bear fruit, you must nurture it and take care of it.
Go for the goals that really matter
At this time of year, there’s lots of noise about setting New Year’s resolutions. Instead of just scratching the surface of change, why not dig deep, get quiet and create your own sankalpa. Tending to the right words will help steer you toward your best ever life!
Happy New Year, friends.