Article by Lori Lucas, yoga teacher, former birth doula and breaker of New Year’s resolutions.
“A good intention clothes itself with power.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Here it is, that time of year when we look at what is working well in our lives – and we also look at the things that might not be working so well. Millions of people toast to a brand new year and a brand new them at midnight on December 31. Did you? What are your resolutions for 2012?
For years and years I made (and failed at) New Year’s resolutions, but not everyone fails! I am in the majority, statistically. I recently read that out of those who make New Year’s resolutions, 22% fall off the wagon after a week, and a50% just give up altogether within three months. Depending on where you look the statistics on resolutions vary, but they’re all unfavourable. If you have found yourself disappointed and discouraged in the past with resolutions, or just plain not had any success with them, why not set a sankalpa instead? Sankalpa is a Sanskrit word from the yoga tradition meaning will, purpose or determination. The word san means “highest truth” and kalpa means “vow”.
Sankalpa: An Alternative to Traditional Resolutions
A sankalpa is an internal vow you make to yourself. It’s like planting a seed within. It’s private. It’s similar to a resolution, only instead of focusing on what you don’t want (like giving up sweets, for example), you focus on what you’d like to bring into your life and manifest. Instead of saying “I won’t” you say “I will” and you see and feel your vision it in all its glory. It’s a resolve that resonates deep within your core. It’s a good intention that brings you into alignment with your highest self and your greatest good. It may sound a little hokey but it’s really quite powerful. There are lots of ways to practice sankalpa and I highly recommend it. And if you’re not clear on your sankalpa? Just be open to receiving it and it will come.
Maybe your sankalpa is a new energy you‘d like to cultivate, or something you’ve already been working on for a while? It may even be something entirely new you’d like to manifest. You can begin each day with your sankalpa. You can reflect on it often, meditate on it, or bring it to your awareness anytime your mind is quiet and receptive. Some good times to focus on it would be: at the beginning of a yoga practice, during shavasana (deep “on purpose” relaxation), meditation, relaxing in the tub, walking in nature, or any period of mindfulness. You can do it in your daily life as you cuddle your child, eat or clean.
Never Beat Yourself Up
As you focus on your sankalpa, you can journal or recite a mantra, or you can simply get quiet and breathe while you focus on what you are inviting into your life. It’s important to not get your ego involved or invested. Try to remember that you aren’t trying to fix anything about yourself. We’re always growing, changing and evolving, and with a sankalpa we’re not attached to a specific outcome. That means never beating yourself up or getting upset or disappointed, so there isn’t ever a reason to throw in the towel. Real change doesn’t happen overnight. We stay very much in the present moment as the seeds grow and things evolve.
And lastly, remember the practice of ahimsa (another Sanskrit word) which means non-harming/non-violence. It’s really important to practice your self-compassion. We aren’t pressuring ourselves. We are already perfect exactly the way we are. We really are. We are just living with intention in the constantly changing flow that is life. Right here and right now. Good luck to you and all the best in 2012!
Lori Lucas E-RYT RPYT is a full time yoga teacher and former birth doula living in Vancouver. Lori teaches all levels of classical Hatha, Yin and Children’s Yoga, and specializes in Prenatal and Baby and Me Yoga. Lori has a great passion for working with pregnant women and their families. For more info on Lori and her class schedules visit her blog at www.yogawithlorilucas.blogspot.com, or catch up with her on Facebook or Twitter.