“The mind is everything. What you think you become” – The Buddha
I have been contemplating the nature of making resolutions and intentions and there certainly are a lot of books and information written on the subject of intention and the law of attraction. But today I’m going to share a brief overview of the ancient practice of Sankalpa and what that means. Sankalpa essentially means making a resolution, an intention, a vow, with tenacity and commitment all rolled into one.
The practice of sankalpa is like planting seeds of desire or aspirations that you intend to actualize in your life in service to the greater meaning and purpose of your being. A lot of good intentions and resolutions don’t ever seem to manifest. One reason is that we often focus only on the desire and forget to ask: how can my desire best serve to align with the greater meaning of my life and soul’s unique purpose? The practice of sankalpa asks that we go deeper into knowing our intrinsic and infinite Self. Sankalpa is a call to awakening.
In the Vedas, four distinct desires of the soul are listed that support us in the fulfillment of becoming who we are meant to be and sharing our unique expression of consciousness. Collectively they are called “purushartha” (for the soul’s purpose).
- Dharma – the desire to become who we are meant to be
- Artha – the desire of the means towards your dharma (money, health, security)
- Kama – the desire for pleasures in any form • Moksha – the desire for spiritual liberation and freedom
According to the vedic texts, these seeds of desires have been planted within us and it’s our mission to become aware of those seeds and use them in service to fulfilling our unique purpose and sharing that in the world. Sometimes our sankalpa, the seed of intentional desire, may not actually be what we need at that moment and it appears as if it’s not working. But rather than thinking that our practice of sankalpa doesn’t work, let it prompt you to go deeper and ask what it is that your soul desires right now in support of the fulfilment of your life’s purpose. (If “soul” is a word that doesn’t work for you, maybe use the word “spirit”, or heart). The practice of Yoga Nidra, mind/body relaxation works beautifully with the practice of sankalpa. In a relaxed state of stillness you’ll become more aware of your infinite Self.
Intuition and the whisperings of your heart now have the space to guide you in knowing what desire and aspirations will support you as needed right now in the physical plane. Sometimes artha, the desire for financial security is appropriate. Sometimes we may be called to focus on moksha. In other words, be willing to align with your heart’s deepest wishes at this moments specific phase in your life. Applying a consistent practice of sankalpa in your life is like giving yourself a compass, rudder and a huge beam of light pointed in the direction of living a fulfilling life with the inherent joys of accomplishing your heart’s deepest desires. Eventually you begin to learn how to accept that all experiences, even if they seem like obstacles on your path, are ultimately there to guide you.
As Yogiraj Rod Stryker said so eloquently: “Eternal fulfillment is both an art and a science. When you learn to skillfully apply the science, you become an artist. Your heart’s deepest desires become your brush strokes, and the life you were meant to share with the world becomes your finished canvas.”