What’s a Sankalpa?
Sankalpa is a sanskrit word (san+kalpa) that means… born from the heart (san) over time (kalpa). Sometimes referred to as sankalpa bhavana, viagra buy this is a vow, a one-pointed resolve or determination that motivates us to marshal our internal and external resources to fulfill a heartfelt destiny.
The recognition of one’s sankalpa creates motivation, passion, persistence and curiosity that fuels our unfolding. We might see that all our personal little “i” intentions have not given us what we deeply desired and we look to a larger intelligence to guide our blossoming. At this point in the journey it is no longer about what I want (“my will”) but what Life wants from me (Thy Will). We can begin asking “What does Life want from me?” The answer is a vastly more meaningful and satisfying ground from which to live.
It may take some time of listening and comparing to determine our calling or mission in life, but there is no peace without it. The heart will continue to call until we hear, turn towards it and take action. Stating our sankalpa is important and begins the process of refining it from we believe it to be to what life wants it to be.
Its Opposite – The Vikalpa
This is another sanskrit word (vi+kalpa) that means a separate (vi) way of being / over time (kalpa). Having discovered and accepted one’s heart-felt calling is only the beginning; we must also act.
As we begin to live out our sankalpa we can expect to encounter hurdles. If the sankalpa is not truly heartfelt or our acceptance is not total then the hurdle may appear to be a barrier so we may falter and stop.
These hurdles are to be expected and treated as something to jump over or go around rather than a barrier which brings our calling to a halt. This is when our interest, motivation, patience, persistence and passion help to sustain us through these bumps.
Why Do I Need A Sankalpa?
A sankalpa gives meaning and purpose to one’s life.
It focuses our meditations and actions in life. It gives purpose and direction and helps the mind stay on track during sitting meditation while focusing our life’s efforts towards fulfilling our particular function, or dharma, in life.
A sankalpa acts as a reminder, which serves as a connector between our practice and our mission. For example an intention that serves a mission might be “I practice mindfulness 10 minutes a day to slow down my reactivity and be a kinder gentler more responsive person.”
Writing your sankalpa down and putting it on the bathroom mirror can be a wonderful way of reminding one’s self to remember one’s meaning, value, purpose and place in the world and to motivate our personal spiritual practice.
The iRest Sankalpa
There are three parts:
- the intention
- heartfelt desire
- inner resource
In this blog post we’ll focus on the intention for practice and then look at the other two in subsequent posts.
What’s Your Intention – Part 1
I use to routinely plunk myself down on the meditation cushion and focus on my breath, that is, until I began practicing iRest. In this practice, there are actually two intentions; the first one is about setting the purpose for today’s practice, which is something that turns out has several benefits.
Intention can be seen as the response to the question; What brings you to meditation today? Why, of all the things on earth, have I chosen to do this now?
The Benefit of Setting The First Intention
An intention serves to tell the mind what is expected of it, which sets us up to succeed in what we are doing, where we are going and propelling us toward our goal.
The intention for this practice also supports the calling that arises from the heart in our Heart-Felt Desire. As such the intention for practice may evolve over time, whereas the Heart’s intention usually does not.
This intention marshals our attention and reduces out distractibility.
During yoga nidra, we are in a deep state of relaxed awareness. It is in this state that our subconscious is most receptive to hearing our intention, so we intentionally bring our intention into our iRest Yoga Nidra practice at the beginning and the end.
5 Examples of Specific Intentions
Practically, I think of this intention as setting the time and type of meditation that I will engage in. For example;
- “I am soaking in the felt-experience of wellbeing for 6 or 7 breaths.”
- “I am following the sensations of my breath inside my throat for 10 minutes.”
- “I am counting the breaths from 9 to 1 for the next 20 minutes.”
- “I am practicing body-sensing with non-judgement for 30 minutes. When my mind wanders I draw it back compassionately knowing that returning attention to my meditation strengthens it.”
- I stop once every hour for a few moments to reaffirm my heartfelt desire.”
Interestingly, the mind stays focused better and remains on track longer when it is told what its job is for the next few minutes. Also, it’s more likely to come back when it does wander off, and this returning is an important element in training the mind to remain and rest in the moment.
5 Examples of General Intentions
After committing to a length of time then you might entreat these example intentions for practice. There are endless possibilities.
- “I remain awake and aware and welcoming of all that arises in this practice of iRest.”
- “I welcome and inquire into the sensations of the body and breath throughout my practice of Yoga Nidra.”
- “I attend to and note the movement of attention from object to object within Awareness.”
- “I am sitting with and welcoming this (memory, core belief, emotion) with the intention of receiving and taking action on the wisdom it has to reveal.”
- I am practicing being present with both my (memory, core belief, emotion) and my Inner Resource.”
The Form is Important
You might notice that these take the form of affirmations which are best phrased in the present tense, as if they are already accomplished
These intentions are not solely “mind-stuff.” They are intended to be experienced or felt as sensation throughout the body. We feel into them as already true. While it may seem to the separate ego-consciousness that this is untrue and that these things need to be “worked on” and “attained” the Truth is that these are already qualities of your True Nature. While it appears that they take time to flower, in they are what you already are!
Test this for yourself. Feel into this affirmation as a body experience or sensation and notice the differences.
- I will be happy
- I am happy
- I am happiness itself
Which feels most powerful? Do not believe the thinking mind that does not believe it, but trust your own felt sense.
In the beginning one’s intention might be to relax, lower blood pressure, however as you attain these goals you may see that there are deeper goals; perhaps to be kinder and less reactive, to be a good human being. In the end our intention may be to know who we are beyond our history, conditioning and personality; it might be to discover and live from the changeless ground of our own Being.
Exercise In Making Your Sankalpa
Click here to download the Intention worksheet from the iRest Workbook.
Interested in more about the sankalpa? Please join me this fall for a 6-week personal practice course in the essentials of iRest.
Coming Up Next: iRest – The Heartfelt Desire
Philip Beck is a Certified iRest Yoga Nidra Teacher, a graduate of the Spiritual Psychotherapy program at Transformational Arts College, and a 500-hour Kripalu Yoga Teacher. He lives in Toronto and works with people who want to reconnect with themselves and their passion. Free discovery sessions are available in person, by Skype or FaceTime. You can email Philip here or book Philip here for your complementary first session.
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