It has been four months since the new year and since many of us made the usual new year's resolution. I think my resolution was to dust more? I am not sure if I can quantify the success of that one though because I have yet to live in one place long enough for dust to actually accumulate. So, we can call it a win-win for now:) But how many times have we made resolutions or promises to ourselves that we break sooner or later. Gym memberships spike in January, everyone goes on a health kick, or gives up a bad habit only to soon forgot all about the resolution and fall back into old ways. So, why do we even make these seemingly empty promises? We believe that once we stop smoking, lose ten pounds, get six-pack abs then we will be happy. These resolutions indicate that we are not whole, perfect beings just as we are.
The yogis believe that we already are complete beings and we need to connect mind, body, and spirit in order to fulfill our life's goals and find happiness. That is where a sankalpa can help. A sankalpa is a resolution of sorts but comes from deep within as a way of connecting us to our true self and calling (or dharma). We already have the necessary ingredients to make our sankalpa into reality - it is not ego driven but rather connects us to our deeper purpose. A sankalpa can be something to achieve today or a long-term life goal. For example, I help my partner with the laundry is direct, clear, and can be done today. I am present and full of peace is a sankalpa that can be applied over a lifetime and in many different situations. A sankalpa should be a positive statement that is in the present-tense, as if you are already acting out on that goal.
Repeating a daily and a long-term sankalpa during meditation and throughout the day can help us stay focused on how we want to live our life and its true purpose. Without having the ego involved, the sankalpa is driven with compassion and self-love.
In a piece found on themeditationcenter.org, Swami Veda Bharati is quoted from his article "Mind, Economics and Anxieties" in Life Positive Magazine. In the article, Swami Veda gives seven steps to creating and activating a sankalpa:
1) Count your breaths for a few minutes (there is an art to it that you need to learn);
2) Let the mind thereby become totally calm, soothed, wrinkle-free, a chamber of silence and stillness;
3) Then send a quiet, yes, very quiet, message to the forces of the subtle world;
4) Having done so, leave it there, surrender it to the forces, to the divine will, and do not struggle.
5) You may repeat this process daily.
6) You will begin to sense what your course of action should be. You will find yourself taking that course of action. The ‘forces’ will send you unexpected helpers and help from unknown sources.
7) Stay calm all the way through: an observer, not a doer.
Next time you find yourself in a meditation, create your own daily or long-term sankalpa and mentally repeat it to yourself three times. As Swami Veda Bharati says, this process can be repeated daily!
Happy meditating, yogis!