Desire is the right and responsibility of every human being. We come into the world because we desire to be born. We desire love, community, and purpose. We seek fulfillment, beauty, freedom and happiness – this shapes our day. Yoga philosophy tells us that it is the intention behind our desires that shapes our personality, and our future.
At the start of each year, we desire to begin again and set our sights on a resolution to change who we are or what we do– we desire to loose weight, get a better job, find a partner or spouse – and while that desire remains, the process for getting there gets stunted, we get distracted by life and external responsibilities.
Ancient Yogic texts give us a process called Sankalpa Shakti to develop an unbreakable vow. It reminds us that we’re already good enough, and have everything we need to live a happy, healthy and fulfilled life. We simply need to focus our mind, find our deepest heartfelt desire, and channel the power to honor that resolve.
The Sanskrit term Sankalpa संकल्प refers to an intention formed by the heart and agreed upon by the mind. ‘San’ refers to a connection to the Highest Truth. ‘Kalpa’ is a vow, or a rule to follow above all others. This one-pointed resolve provides focus both psychologically and philosophically to hold our resolution.
Shakti शक्ति is defined as power, ability, strength, might, effort, energy, capability. It’s the primordial verve that drives divine force and intelligence. In China it’s called Chi, or Qi. In Latin it is Anima. Sankalpa Shakti puts this power of indomitable will, action and knowledge into motion. It is the driving force behind thought, word and deed to accomplish your heartfelt resolve.
Clinical psychologist Richard Miller, Ph. D teaches in the Advaita Vedanta and Kashmir nondual traditions – he states that as humans, we embody tremendous will and energy (iccha ), action (kriya), and the wisdom of how to deliver that action (jnana). “These are all aspects of the Divine, and they live within us. When the true sankalpa comes in, we awaken these three qualities of the Divine,” Miller says. “You don’t have to ask where you’ll find the will to do it. The energy and will is already there. The sankalpa informs us of the action we’re willing to take into the world.”
Step 1 – Clear your Mind
Find a clean quiet space where you can still your mind and reflect on your desires. Take 10 smooth deep breaths, close your eyes and get quiet. Acknowledge that you are part of something bigger than yourself, you are a unique and powerful part of the whole. Sit for a moment and ask your Heart what it truly desires. If you have more time, enjoy this traditional meditation practice to find stillness of mind. With pen and paper, write out all the desires that comes to you – nothing is too trivial. Let the words flow like a poem, or stream of consciousness – write as much as you need to fully detail your vision and feelings.
In this moment of stillness and reflection, give yourself time and space to listen to the higher truth behind your desire. Ask yourself, what do I really want. If I had all of these things, what would I attain? What is the deepest essence of my desires.
Step 3 – Define your Intention
There are 2 ways to approach your Sankalpa Shakti:
The Heartfelt Desire – this is a statement that reflects your true nature and helps you live your greatest potential in thought, word and deed. It already exists deep within. It is a reminder, the theme song to your life’s purpose; it shines through you.
The Intention Based Goal – this is an achievable step that can be measured and achieved within 6-18 months, and leads you to your higher purpose more rapidly and efficiently.
Step 4 – Create your Sankalpa
Based on the experience above, what do you want? Really really really want behind it all? Now turn that into a statement that defines your deepest desire. State it in present tense, with as few words as possible.
“I want a better job” reinforces a current not-enoughness. Consider instead “I thrive in material and spiritual abundance”. Or a Goal Based Intention of: “I actively seek new opportunities”.
“I want to lose weight” changes to “I am whole, I am healed” or “I love my body and choose kindness”. A Goal Based Intention becomes “I make fewer unhelpful choices and more helpful choices each day”.
“I want a relationship” becomes “I am worthy of love and joy.” Or “I am open to new experiences”, or “I allow space in my life for fun and friends”.
That which you give your attention to thrives. Keep your Mind on track as friend rather than foe, and each time a habit or thought comes up that distracts you from your purpose or pushes you off your path, be compassionate with yourself and repeat your Sankalpa. Acknowledge that what you seek is already within you, you don’t need anything; you already embody that which you desire.
Repeat your Sankalpa each day, during meditation, prayer, silence, or before sleep. Practice Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep / Transformative Rest) to seed your Sankalpa deep into your subconscious, helping drive thought, word and deed in tune with your Heart’s desire. Let the energy of the Sankalpa Shakti carry your Mind to make the decisions that lead you to your most vibrant and abundant life. This helps you get out of your own way to achieve your true nature and find the heart’s desire in happiness, fulfillment, beauty and freedom. That which you seek, also seeks you.
For a free copy of Yoga Nidra for Transformation to strengthen your Sankalpa Shakti, email Kirsten@LivingYogaDallas.com