Do you feel like you are losing your new year resolve? Are you wondering about your “overriding purpose for being here?”
This article – Inspired Intention – by Kelly McGonigal is the best I have ever read that shows how yoga philosophy and ideas can inform our choices and our resolve. She teaches yoga, meditation and psychology at Stanford University and I’ve long appreciated her for her book Yoga for Pain Relief. She is making constructive contributions to the field of yoga and pain and the body/mind connection, and I very much hope one day to meet her.
She starts the article with a definition (a mind after my own heart!) —-
A sankalpa is a statement that does this for us. Stryker explains that kalpa means vow, or “the rule to be followed above all other rules.” San , he says, refers to a connection with the highest truth. Sankalpa, then, is a vow and commitment we make to support our highest truth. “By definition, a sankalpa should honor the deeper meaning of our life. A sankalpa speaks to the larger arc of our lives, our dharma—our overriding purpose for being here.” The sankalpa becomes a statement you can call upon to remind you of your true nature and guide your choices.
She goes on to explain how sankalpa or resolve can take two forms – a goal/intention or a heartfelt desire. (that adjective is important). Then she describes how you uncover your heartfelt desire and goals, how best to state them, how to plant and nourish the seed and finally concludes with quoting Rod Stryker –
According to Rod Stryker, this apparent contradiction is the essence of both sankalpa practice and nondual teachings. “It all goes back to this idea that each of us is both being and becoming. There’s the part of us, para atman, that is transcendent, inherently one, and doesn’t need anything. We also have a jiva atman, that part of us that comes into life with a purpose and a destiny and is always becoming.” Stryker explains that to fulfill your dharma, you must find a way to integrate these two seemingly opposite aspects of being. “It’s vital for happiness that you walk both paths simultaneously. Direct your energy with intention, but be mindful that your nature is unchanged whether you achieve your goals or not. Live as contentedly as possible in between the goal and realizing the goal.”
The essay is long and full of content, but trust me, it’s worth the click over. Or you can listen to or download an hour long public radio interview with her here on the subject.