New Year’s Resolutions or Sankalpa?


New Year’s Resolutions have a long history and a very short lifespan for most people.  We hope to be able to lose the weight, start the project, stop the habit or whatever the idea is, but eventually March rolls around and we are still ourselves.  In the yoga tradition, a Sankalpa is in some ways like a resolution, but in other ways it is set up for us to better succeed at what we are trying to accomplish.

Where most resolutions are a negative statement—something we are trying to stop doing—Sankalpa is a positive statement of what we would like to enhance about ourselves.  This may seem like a small difference, but it can make a huge difference in our success rate.  When we are coming at our self-improvement from a place of already existing strength rather than any weakness, we are better equipped to integrate the intention and be able to consistently act on it.  Here’s an example:

A resolution may say, “ I will lose 15 pounds,” but a Sankalpa would sound more like, “ I achieve and maintain a healthy weight”.  You can see the small difference, but feel how it can change everything.  In short, resolutions come from us viewing ourselves as lacking or incomplete and a Sankalpa view regards all of us as having everything necessary to live a full, perfect life.

Additionally, Sankalpa should honor a deeper meaning in our lives, not just feed our egos.  In the weight example above, a Sankalpa regards our health where a resolution could be more about an ego boost.  Sankalpa asks us to think more fully, more deeply about who we are and how we can express our goodness, how we can share our gifts, how we can realize our purpose (dharma) in life. Your Sankalpa can address enhancing an already important trait that you demonstrate or it can be an intention to bring forward something less obvious.  It should be a short, repeatable, present tense sentence.  For example, “A healthy body and mind are my true nature” is a commitment to realizing what already exists.  It is also recommended that we repeat our Sankalpa at regular intervals, perhaps upon waking, before bed or as we begin our yoga practice.

Finding a deeper resolve, a stronger intentional vow can be the difference between a pointless exercise and a successful, integrative shift going forward. Let’s enjoy the New Year with new tools!  Namaste’ For more information:

Meditation for Sankalpa

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