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'Sankalpa' - The Power of Resolve


By Sannyasi Bhakti Ratna (Kate Woodworth) - Kate is a senior yoga teacher and yoga therapist from Yoga Vidya Gurukul (www.yogapoint.com), she is teaching and practicing yoga for the last 10 years. She is also Resident Officer at Yoga Vidya Gurukul. She is initiated into Karma Sannayasa by her Guru Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati.

It is said that anything can fail you in life but not the sankalpa made during yoga nidra, that a sankalpa can change your destiny. Well a sankalpa can also be made during a yoga class and also for daily life.

Sankalpa is a Sanskrit word and can be translated as a resolution or resolve. A resolve or resolution is defined as ?decide upon, make up one?s mind upon action or doing or to do, form mentally?. It is also defined as ?intentions that one formulates mentally for virtuous conduct,? and, simply, ?will or purpose.? It takes the form of a short phrase or sentence which should be clearly and concisely expressed, using the same wording each time, to bring about a positive change in one?s life. It is not only a positive affirmation or a positive thought but a process of training the mind to develop the will and to develop clarity of thought, to be the motivation behind your life.

If used properly a sankalpa will strengthen the mind and will. It helps to awaken the willpower within by uniting the conscious awareness with the unconscious forces which lie dormant. It can completely transform every aspect of the personality. It should not be used to fulfil desires, instead something should be chosen that will positively affect oneself physically, mentally and spiritually.

It is a way of transforming ones character, personality, direction and aims in life in a more positive and beneficial way. The sankalpa is a choice we make on deciding how we should live our lives. It should be a short statement made when we are peaceful and quiet. In a class it can be made before starting the class but it is best not to quickly make a sankalpa without too much thought. Time should be given to identify the most suitable sankalpa and it will not automatically come to the mind.

Everybody who comes to yoga is looking for something more in life, something they want to achieve. Though most of the time one will not know what it is. That?s okay. The first step we have to take is to recognise where we are now and begin to think about where we want to go and what we want. We need to become aware of our strengths but also of our weaknesses, what holds us back in getting to where we want to go, a bad habit or negative qualities. These should be identified and we can then try to cultivate a positive change in our lives. One that will improve the quality of our life and also of those around, remembering that yoga is not only about the individual. Through starting to understand our strengths, weaknesses and limitations we can begin to find our hidden potential, what is locked inside and what will help us to improve our lives. This potential will help us to recognise and find our purpose in life. Once we know our purpose then the correct sankalpa will come through understanding of our life and its path.

It is fine to have a small sankalpa to start with. It takes lots of time, awareness and reflection to find ones purpose in life and there is no rush. One may have temporary sankalpas to begin with but over time the true sankalpa will shine through and this one should be kept. However we can start with the removal of negative qualities and habits, identifying our limitations and improving the quality of our life. From there this will lead to permanent changes within our life and personality and over time we will find our purpose in life. So the sankalpa can change and for most people will change many times until they understand the higher levels of their mind and the bigger picture of their life becomes more clear.

The sankalpa should be in tune with an individual?s personality. It should not cause struggle or doubt in the mind. It should come from within and not just be a quick thought - ?oh I want to be like this.? It should not be a wish. It is a conviction. ?I will become...? Time should be given to think clearly about our sankalpa and we must have faith in it. The sankalpa is trust and faith in ourselves, if we do not have faith in our sankalpa then there is no point in using it. We should nurture the sankalpa, remembering it frequently. We should have positivity for our sankalpa, we should not question it. It should be in harmony with our mind and body. It should be the motivating force that we are working towards in life.

The phrasing of the sankalpa is also important. The sankalpa should always be affirmative. Cognitive Psychological studies have shown that the negative statement takes more time for the brain to understand whereas the positive is easy to understand for the neural networks. We should not say, ?I am going to stop being angry.? We should say, ?I am going to (or I will) cultivate compassion, tolerance and kindness.? It should be simple. We should not say, ?I want to be like this, this and this.? There should be no greed attached to the sankalpa either, we should not want everything from our sankalpa, step by step what is needed will be identified.

The resolve that is made can be used for yoga class, at the beginning and end, yoga nidra and personal practices like meditation and mantras. It can be remembered at anytime to increase its strength, when waking, when going to sleep, when going through hard times, whenever motivation is needed. The more it is remembered the more it will reinforce the seed that has been planted, it will ground us, motivate us, increase our willpower, focus us and give us a deeper sense of purpose and direction.

Overtime, ideally, we should aim to have a selfless sankalpa, one that benefits all. Swami Satyananda?s sankalpa is to see himself and God in all people, to share true love, selfless love, with all. Whatever your sankalpa is remember that a sankalpa made with faith, conviction and remembered frequently will never fail you.

Sannyasi Bhakti Ratna (Kate Woodworth)