Updated: Jan 2
Image credit: Morgan Sessions (Unsplash)
The tricky thing about new year's resolutions -
They’re about Future You, not Present You. The you that is in the Now the one reading this post.
Resolutions often start with “I’m going to”, “I will”. How we’re each going to be better, skinnier, stronger, smarter. They don’t start with “I am”. That future we're aiming for the one in which our lives will be better, it doesn't exist, yet.
Start where you are
Yogi’s are often called to set an intention for their practice as they get on their mats.
Practising yogis often refer to their life into two parts, when they are ‘on’ and ‘off’ the mat. When they are on they may be actively participating in a class or meditating. Off they tend to be going about a normal day, the same as anyone else.
What is different is they may carry their sankalpa with them throughout both.
So, what is a sankalpa anyway?
Setting an intention a Sankalpa as they’re called in sanskrit (the classical language used in yoga) is saying who you are. Not what you’ll do or who you want to be in the future.
“This term comes from the Sanskrit roots san, meaning "a connection with the highest truth," and kalpa, meaning "vow." Thus, it translates to denote an affirming resolve to do something or achieve something spiritual.” (Yogapedia.com)
Students are often encouraged to bring awareness to their thoughts by exploring a sankalpa during class. Test it out during your next practice - try to be kind to yourself with a sankalpa of ‘I am respectful of my body's limitations’ then noticing each time you move outside of that by pushing further than comfortable. You may find you are motivated by ego, a desire to keep up, or to be better than the student next to you.
It can be an intention for life or for practice. A quiet inner word with oneself as to who or how you wish to be. For some it becomes a personal mantra ‘I am enough’, for others it may be a goal they don’t yet fully believe ‘I am confident in what I do’.
How to find your sankalpa
To find yours it can help to look past the superficial resolution to ask yourself the uncomfortable question 'why?' I say uncomfortable because often we don't like some aspect of ourselves probably the one we're looking to change! We can find ourselves squirming in our own skin when we begin to recognise the cause of our insecurity.
The conversation might go like this... Resolution - 'I'm going to lose weight'. Why? 'To be skinnier.' Why? 'Because I think if I weighed less I'd be more loveable.'
Your sankalpa might be 'I am loved'.
As soon as you say it you might feel that little voice in your head saying no you’re not. This is where the work begins. To reconcile that inner turmoil of actions and words conflicting.
To become who you want to be. Not just for the first week of a year.
Of course it doesn't hurt to have an ancient goddess on your side. Keep reading for tips on how to seal your sankalpa here.