The word sankalpa is most commonly translated as resolve, resolution, intention or affirmation.
I like to think of sankalpa as the wisdom of the heart.
Sankalpa is a potent part of the practice of yoga nidra, enabling a particular possibility to manifest within us. It guides and sustains the direction of our life and is deeply rooted in the realm of karma. It bypasses the conscious mind's conflicts and distractions.
'The purpose of sankalpa is to influence and transform the whole life pattern, not only physically but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually'. Swami Satyananda Saraswati
A sankalpa is developed internally so that it can then be expressed externally in our actions. It is part of our sadhana, our spiritual practice. It transforms our outlook, our personality and our consciousness. It also remains our guiding light in the practical, nitty gritty details of life - in both joyful and difficult times. This enables us to experience freedom and fulfilment in life.
Sankalpa is introduced in yoga nidra after the first couple of months of practice, once the practitioner has become accustomed to settling the body-mind in savasana and rotating his/her awareness systematically around the body. It is introduced as a seed planted in the mind near the beginning of a guided practice, and then watered i.e. revisited at the end.
Sankalpa in yoga nidra takes the form of a short, positive statement - a robust statement of intent - that is repeated internally a number of times with faith and trust. Exactly the same words are used each time. In a regular yoga class or practice, an intention is sometimes set at the beginning of practice. This focuses the mind while infusing and elevating the quality of the practice.
Initially, a sankalpa is often related to smaller matters and the shorter term. Practitioners commonly name an aspect of their life that they would like to change. The sankalpa serves them for a period of time. The choice of language and the depth of the statement are important. Rather than stating 'I will stop smoking' for example, one could say 'I take care of my health', 'I am kind to myself' or 'I am free of addiction'.
However, a sankalpa is truly potent when it relates to a larger scale, to the 'big stuff' of life. It could be 'my work is of service in the world', 'I fulfil my highest potential' or 'I am truthful in word, thought and deed'.
A sankalpa may well take time to come to the practitioner. For it does come naturally and effortlessly when the time is right, from within and from the heart. We listen and remain receptive. And one knows when a sankalpa comes that is for life. This is a beautiful thing.
A sankalpa is always personal and is not publicly stated or shared with others in any way. This preserves its power. It can also be repeated first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
Please share this if you would like to expand the benefits of sankalpa.
Photo: author's own