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Sankalpa - Anchoring into purpose.

What is a sankalpa? We often hear this term used in Yoga but what is it all about?

A sankalpa arises out of an inquiry into our deeper purpose in life. It empowers us to make realistic, practical and acheivable changes in our life. There can be both a short term sankalpa and an overarching one for life or until it manifests. In the process of forming a sankalpa we can identify and relate to our inner resources and in doing so, harness those to overcome any shortcomings or negative traits peacefully and with patience and determination.

A sankalpa is a firm resolve made towards positive change when the mind/body are in a receptive state like when you are fully relaxed that moment just before you drift off to sleep. Yoga terms this the hypnogogic state. Its often practiced in Yoga Nidra when this special state is sustained which is called the state of pratyahara.

You can have an over-arching sankalpa that relates to your direction in life and you can have a daily one that relates to a particular area of need or something you are wanting to bring positive change to. Often these two are connected and its good to see how daily practice is leading you in the direction you want to go in your life.

A sankalpa takes time to reveal itself but is well worth the effort. You can affirm it with conviction and faith at the start or end of your yoga practice when you are focusing your mind and feelings. In my life my sankalpa has proved invaluable in keeping me aligned to a yogic lifestyle and ongoing sadhana.

It brings clarity and purpose and I am happy to say its slowly coming to fruition. What a wonderful tool to have for affecting positive change and connecting with personal strengths.

How does it work?

The subconscious mind is very receptive on picking up inner messages and converting these into action. It is the reservoir of memories, dreams, flashes of insight and intuition, creative solutions. Tapping into this aspect of the mind and utilizing its ability to shape and manifest is the window through which the sankalpa enters the mind.

Like a seed planted it needs to be watered and nurtured through the ingredients of intent, repetition and simplicity. Repetition is important for it to really land and build its own energy.

How do I find my sankalpa?

A sankalpa can arise spontaneously or you can spend some time reflecting on,contemplating and devising one. It can take some time for it to reveal itself but once known should be stuck with until it manifests in your life.

Initially it took some months of working out what my one was, and then about after a year it was much clearer and I’ve had it now twenty years on.

A sankalpa usually arises from within in a deeply relaxed state, once you hold the intention for it to reveal itself. You can make a sankalpa that ‘you will find your sankalpa’ and with patience and practice it comes. Once you decide you to form your sankalpa, stay open to the process of discovery. The SWAN technique is very good for drilling down on your aims, needs, identifying weaknesses & bringing out strengths. Once you go through this exercise a few times it will become clearer what it is that you really want to focus on.

You maybe searching for a direction to take with a current work situation, relationship, personal aspirations or life purpose or even on a spiritual level. Any area of you life where you deem some positive change is needed. Some ideas below;

Wanting to make better health and well-being choices

Develop a habit that will support you moving forward

Then from this form a clear concise statement that anchors it into something tangible such as; if your intention is to make better health and well-being choices that may translate further into “I will give some time each day for my yoga/exercise/relaxation, practice’.

Note that the statement is short and concise. This is necessary so that the subconscious mind can receive it clearly and if its too long and includes too many things it can become confusing for the receptive mind to work with. It shouldn’t be a shopping list.

Work on the wording, until you are satisfied with it. Its not set in stone the first few times you use it so feel free to experiment here. Consider the tense used also as the connotations with “I will’, ‘ I am’, ‘I am becoming’ - all imply and convey different meanings. Ask yourself ‘which wording and tense sits well with me?’ Use what resonates.

When do I use it?

A sankalpa can be repeated at anytime. It serves as an anchor for your awareness and can bring you into a grounded sense of being in the present moment.

Other potent times include:

First thing on waking up in the morning when the mind is relaxed.

Just before you enter relaxation or do your yoga/meditation practice.

Coming out of a relaxed state and re-entering sensorial activity.

As an integral part of Yoga Nidra practice its repeated twice.

Anytime through-out your day when you need to feel a sense of grounding and connection with yourself.

Before going to sleep where once again the receptive window of the mind is active.

Finding your sankalpa and anchoring into it strengthens the mind and willpower. Drawing on the potential of the mind to co-create reality by harnessing its ability to convert what is held intently into concrete reality.

Now is the perfect time to be considering or revising your sankalpa. I hope this article sheds some light on the topic for you and that you find your own sankalpa to help you navigate life well.

Aum shanti


Yoga Nidra and Meditation Courses, retreats and Teachers Trainings run through-out the year, continuing the transmission of ancient wisdom for the modern world.

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