Setting heartfelt goals: the yogic practice of sankalpa

5 guidelines for creating a sankalpa

Setting heartfelt goals: the yogic practice of sankalpa

If you are interested in yoga, you might have read somewhere or you might have heard your yoga teacher talking about sankalpa. What is sankalpa? When we translate the Sanskrit word ‘sankalpa’ into English, it simply means ‘resolution’ or ‘intention’. . .  But sankalpa is not just any resolve. It is the will that brings harmony and togetherness between you and the universe. It represents the idea that man can look to the future with the heart and not only with the mind, as we are so used to do.

The difference between a resolve and a sankalpa

Every January, we set our desires and goals for the year ahead. We are excited about our New Year resolutions and we feel full of hope that yes, this is the year when I am actually going to stick to my goals. Well, studies show that 80% of people give up on their resolutions before mid February. One of the main ‘ingredients’ that contribute to the bad taste resolutions leave in our mouths is one very important fact: we wish for superficial things we don’t really want. 

‘I want to save money to buy a new car’, ‘I want to lose weight’, ‘I want a promotion’… They all sound good, until the creeping reality reveals itself from deep within your subconscious mind. You don’t even realize what happened and why you gave up on your dreams so quickly… All your goals were quite sensible and in good taste, weren’t they?…

But your subconscious mind knows better. Your inner truth, your inner wisdom is awake to the reality that you don’t actually like to drive (but your neighbor has a new car); that you are not particularly bothered by your love handles (it’s just that people keep telling you that you’re fat); that you secretly wish you could quit your job and go travel the world (but what will your family say!?).

So here is the important principle of a sankalpa: wish for things of importance, for things that mean something to you! Wish for things that have the potential to enrich your life experience and help your soul grow!

Stop wishing for what you see other people wishing!

Stop making resolutions around stuff you see on social media!

Stop trying to manifest into your life things other people want for you and things you think you should wish for in order to fit in!

Instead, sit down and ask yourself: who am I?… Why am I here?… What do I really want from life?…  What are my passions, my talents, my gifts that were given to me and that I can use to impact the world in a positive way?… What are my mission and my purpose in life?… How can I serve?… What do I need to achieve so I can be of use?

Will vs heartfelt desire

One problem is that we put way too much pressure on ourselves trying to blend in. We change ourselves in order to be accepted in places and by people we find worthy, but we fail to recognize our own uniqueness and worth.

A sankalpa, however, needs you to be aware of your qualities and it needs you to cultivate self-worth. It requires you to sit in silence and meditate on what your next step should be. Dive deep inside your soul and choose for yourself a direction that stays true to your inner essence and that has the potential of bringing you closer to your life mission! The sankalpa teaches you that, in order to receive, you have to be willing to give first.

So what are the guidelines for creating a sankalpa?

1.Make it clear:

State your goal in a short, clear sentence that you can easily repeat over and over again in your mind or out loud.

2.State it in a positive sentence:

Use positive words and affirmations. So instead of saying “I will not get sick”, you can say “I live in a healthy body and I honor my body every day”.

3.Repeat it as often as possible:

In yoga, sankalpa is known as an important stage in yoga nidra, a process throughout which the body and the mind relax, allowing the intention of the sankalpa to penetrate deeper and become absorbed by the subconscious mind faster. However, you can repeat your sankalpa anytime you want, but especially before going to sleep and immediately after waking up. Use it as your personal mantra.

4.Put feeling into it:

Speak your sankalpa from the heart; feel the emotions associated with your desire; this is a process of growth and discovery, so try to be loving and compassionate to yourself

5.Stick to it:

Continue repeating your sankalpa; don’t give up if your goal does not materialize in one or two days; believe that your wish will manifest and continue repeating it for as long as it is necessary.

Talking about the power of sankalpa,  Swami Satyananda Saraswati said:

“Once planted, the sankalpa gathers together the vast forces of the mind in order to bring about its fruition. At first, the sankalpa is merely a conscious resolve, but eventually it becomes a very powerful subconscious force. This deeper force will eventually manifest itself again at a conscious level and bring about changes in your personality and in your life.”

Sankalpa had existed long before the whole manifestation movement started and long before Paulo Coelho wrote “The Alchemist” where he was telling us that “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”. Yogis have known for thousands of years that when you set your mind on a goal and you repeat it in your mind over and over again for as long as it needs to be repeated, eventually that thing, that goal you imagined, manifests in your conscious reality.

Express your sankalpa clearly and with conviction knowing that whatever you wish for, as long as it serves your higher purpose, it has already been given to you. You already have all the tools you need inside of you, you just have to hear their calling and bring them to light.


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