On January 1, 2014 from 12-3:00 p.m. we had a wonderful community gathering at Abhyaasa yoga studio. We are thankful for our teachers, our students and the community of yogis. The event concluded with a delicious vegetarian potluck!
We talked about Sankalpa as the combination of San and Kalpa.
San being the inner truth that rests within your core.
Kalpa being the summative central thought or idea.
Sankalpa essentially being one's vow or commitment to support one's highest truth.
As can be easily seen, the Sankalpa does not change as we move from one year to the next and just does not depend on our ego desires. As we develop within our life and our yoga practice the Sankalpa becomes clearer and clearer and takes on a life of its own. This Sankalpa is always there deep inside of us, waiting patiently. It is simply ignored by our monkey mind and ego and is passed over for some ridiculous and worldly promise of permanency.
The Sankalpa acts as the light of the sun to unfold the petals of the flower of life. Sankalpa is but one ingredient and there are several others that need to be respected as well. Just as a flower blooms with exposure to the light of the sun, the roots of the flower and plant simultaneously need water, soil, micronutrients, air etc. in order to bloom. The conditions must be correct for the flower to bloom. Without the correct conditions, there is simply stagnation. And no growth can occur in an environment of stagnation.
What are the other ingredients that are necessary for the realization of your true nature? The inner force or Shakti is needed. Shakti is the power of being and becoming. Just as air is the medium for the expression of sound, so too does Shakti act as the medium for our own expression.
The three facets of Shakti are as follow:
Iccha Shakti: the subtle force of thought, desire and will.
Jnana Shakti: The force of Grace that reveals Self-knowledge. This is experienced selflessly and intuitively.
Kriya Shakti: The subtle force that puts motion into action.
With regard to Sankalpa, start with the premise that you already are what you need to be to fulfill your life's purpose. Sankalpa does not come from an intellectual mind, but rather informs the intellectual mind by its presence of the direction that one 'needs' to take to fulfill one’s life.
Again, Sankalpa is already and always there deep within you, unchanged. Our job is to quiet the monkey mind so that the Sankalpa can come to the surface and be uncovered/ discovered.
In the New Year's class and meditation that followed, we did a Yoga Nidra practice. The purpose of the Yoga Nidra was to help in uncovering your Sankalpa. With the above-mentioned ingredients and a means of uncovering the Sankalpa, what else is needed to help?
Sravana- A willingness to hear and listen to the message of one's heartfelt desire, and the courage to provide a clear, calm and tranquil mind so that you can heed the innermost call. Meditation (dhyana) helps to settle the mind.
Manana- Welcoming the messenger within. Sitting with this messenger, feeling it, deeply reflecting (pratyahara-sense withdrawal and dharana-concentration) upon it and letting it reflect upon you.
Nididhyasana-And finally, a willingness to do what the heartfelt desire, innermost call requires of you.
Once the Sankalpa is discovered/uncovered we must prepare the other ingredients and practice! We have provided the audio clip of the Yoga Nidra exercise to assist you in your practice. (This will be provided as soon as we work out some technical difficulties.)
In the time of year where everyone seems to have their resolutions for the New Year on their mind, it is appropriate to discuss the meaning of Sankalpa.
Let us begin by reviewing the meaning of sankalpa and that it is not synonymous with simply a new year’s resolution. Sankalpa is a word that comes from the Sanskrit words San and Kalpa. San represents the inner truth that rests at ones core. Kalpa represents a summative central thought or idea. Together, sankalpa respresents the focal vow resting deep in your core. This sankalpa does not get replaced as we move to the next year. It does not change with time. Much like the light of the sun results in the unfolding of the petals of a flower, so too your sankalpa is the solitary defining principle which unfolds the petals of the flower of your life.
We have a tendency to ‘see’ the flowers in this world and often don’t even ‘see’ the earth that produced the blossoms. Our lives within and including physical manifestation depends upon three subtle forces. These forces together represent the creative potential of the material universe and must be respected as must the soil from which flowers bud and bloom.
What are these three forces that seem to work together? How do they relate to this manifest universe? When are they in play? Why do they exist? And, do we have access to them? These forces are always present and exist as Shakti within and without us. Shakti is the power of being and becoming. We simply would not exist without Shakti and the reason for her presence is to act as the medium for our expression; much as air is the medium for the expression of sound.
Iccha Shakti is the subtle force of thought, desire and will. Jnana Shakti is the force of grace that reveals self-knowledge and is best experienced selflessly and intuitively. Kriya Shakti is the subtle force that sets action into motion. When all three of these are combined in the correct proportions, at the correct time, the correct place, and with selflessness, Shakti manifests and is felt as a force to reckon with.
In order to have Shakti however, one needs Shiva. Shiva is the awareness on which the wave of consciousness flows. Without consciousness,Iccha Shakti, Jnana Shakti and Kriya Shakti cannot exist let alone be perceived or be recognized. Without Shiva, Shakti could not exist, be perceived or be recognized and without Shakti, Shiva would become unconsciousness abiding only in selfless awareness.
So what does this all have to do with Sankalpa? It becomes crystal clear when you unlock the door to manifestation with the key of awareness, within the temple of Selflessness.
Meditate, meditate, meditate…
“Intention is the core of all conscious life. Conscious intention
colors and moves everything.”
-Master Hsing Yun
What is your Sankalpa? Though this word means resolution in sanskrit, it is actually not synonymous with a resolution that is adopted before the new year.
"The purpose of a sankalpa is not to fulfill desires but to create strength in the structures of the mind. The purpose of a sankalpa is to transform the whole life pattern (the vasanas), not only physically, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually." (Svami Satyananda Sarasvati -1923-2009)
It takes time for a sankalpa to take root in your being and so it is very important to re-engage the sankalpa often and ernestly over a long period of time. This is a thought that is not an after-thought but one which is continuously in the forefront of the mind...the resolve, aim and purpose of your life here in this manifest reality. Pick your intention and hold it at your heart center.
As you begin each yoga practice, anoint your heart center and your sankalpa with your internal drsti... giving yourself an auto-adjustment when necessary throughout the practice, maintaining your awareness on the sankalpa at your heart center.
As you move off of the mat, maintaining the sankalpa in your heart to guide your actions throughout each day, you empower a resolve that lasts well beyond the good intentions of January.
A space that nurtures connection, spiritual growth and physical well-being.