Sankalpa and intention

san kalpa

San Kalpa (sahn KAL-pah) is an ancient Sanskrit sutra that means ‘my intentions have infinite organizing power.’ Deepak Chopra

That’s what I need this week – infinite organising power!

It’s been one of those weeks that just feels completely overwhelming. The week started okay, I was feeling only mildly out of control, and then more and more stuff just seemed to pile up on me. Now it feels like chaos shacked up with impending doom and delivered to me their unlovely offspring.

When I get like this I can’t seem to ground myself, I become inefficient, running around in circles, in a state of perpetual panic, like the White Rabbit from Alice In wonderland:

“Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!”

Late for what exactly? As James Dean’s surly ‘rebel without a cause’, Jim Stark, says:

“What have you got?”

Obviously this thinking is not particularly helpful. All I am manifesting is disharmony and confusion. I decided it was time to take a break and set some intentions for the week and the day, paraphrased from Creating on Purpose by Anodea Judith and Lion Goodman.

What is your intention for how you want to live your life?

What do you intend to create, accomplish, or change in the 
coming week? In the coming day?

Name three things outside yourself that support your intention.

What is your intention for the upcoming conversation you’re 
going to have with someone who is important to you?

What is your intention in your choice of food you eat? In your planned activities?

Setting clear, short-term intentions really helped to focus my energy and make me feel less like a pressure cooker threatening to pop its lid. As well, I did some reading about sankalpa, which is a yogic practice for creating intentions.

The word Sankalpa, săn-kăl-pə in Sanskrit (the ancient Indian language of yoga), means intention and resolve. San= born of the heart, kalpa= way of being.

Sankalpa can be seen from different perspectives. Let us say that life is like a river that has to be crossed. We cannot step straight across from where we are standing now because the river is wide, nor can we swim against the strong current. So we search the bank for stepping stones that we can take, one by one, to cross over safely. Swami Anandakumar Saraswati

Sankalpa is part of the Yoga Nidra practice. Yoga Nidra focuses on systematically tensing and relaxing the body, part by part. This practice leads to deep relaxation and helps achieve a meditative state.

Sankalpa is a vital part of yoga nidra, and a highly effective way of re-training the mind. Your sankalpa intention is designed to change the direction of your life for the better, to break free from your past negative habits, and to plant a positive ‘seed’ of intention to help ‘grow’ new healthy habits in your life.

Prior to the practice of yoga nidra, you affirm your sankalpa, and you visualise it like ‘planting’ the seed of this new thought into your subconscious and as a reminder that you need to then ‘water’ this seed by repeating your intention. It takes love, attention, and practice for it to grow and flourish.

So although four stages [of sankalpa] have been described: (i) the reforming of bad habits, (ii) improving the quality of life and living, (iii) creating a real change within our personality, and (iv) realizing what we are trying to achieve in this life – the sankalpa is really always one. But to recognize the deepest quality of sankalpa we may have to go through some of the stages along the way like stepping-stones across a river, each step within reach of the previous one. Swami Anandakumar Saraswati

Kelly McGonigal writes that a sankalpa is really a statement of our innermost truth and heartfelt desires. It is a statement of who you are, such as “I am already whole,” “I am already healed,” or “I am peace itself.”

It can also be a specific intention to manifest our heartfelt desires. The way to tap into these is through meditative listening. The three stages of the listening process described in the Vedanta tradition are sravana, the willingness to hear the message of the heartfelt desire in the meditative state. The second stage, manana, is the act of welcoming this message. The final stage, nididhyasana, is the willingness to do what the message requires of you. There’s no point asking for this direction and then doing something else, you need the courage and conviction to follow your heartfelt desires.

A sankalpa practice starts from the radical premise that you already are who you need to be to fulfill your life’s dharma. All you need to do is focus your mind, connect to your most heartfelt desires, and channel the divine energy within. Kelly McGonigal

My favourite guided meditation instructor, Jeddah Mali, talks about not “sending” just “holding intentions”. I love that, there’s no force, I don’t have to DO anything, just BE who I really am. Away from the bells and whistles of the ever-driven ego-mind.

Ahhh, yes. I can breathe now.

Intentions are the directions we give to the ‘sea of awareness’, drawing up the energy of the sea of awareness into different shapes and forms and these different shapes and forms become our changing experience. Conscious intention is the point of influence on the sea of awareness. Jeddah Mali

Deepak Chopra writes that “inherent in every intention and desire is the mechanics for its fulfilment.” He says to make a list of your desires. Focus on what you want. Trust that when things don’t seem to go your way, there is a reason. Meditate daily and listen to your heart, is it happy? Is it open? Is there something causing you emotional pain? Can you change it?

At the beginning of everything we create in our lives is an intention. Deepak talks about the power of intention:

An individual who is established in “being” can harness the power of Sankalpa to bring about the spontaneous fulfillment of any desire. In the Upanishads it says: you are your deepest desire. Intention is a force of nature, like electromagnetism. Intention orchestrates its own fulfillment. If you want intention to work for you, you have to have clarity about your intended outcome. You must feel it, see it, taste it, smell it, be it. Deepak Chopra

Today’s affirmations (inspired by Jeddah Mali and Cheryl Lee Harnish):

I am living in the highest potential of my being right in this moment.

I am finding greater clarity and new ways of dealing with life experiences.

I am in the flow of healing.

I am experiencing and outwardly expressing my true state of being.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. Anais Nin


More information on sankalpa and yoga nidra:

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