“Run that marathon, write that novel, make 2022 the year you finally smash your goals!”
…I don’t know about you but when I see headlines like this rather than inspire me, I just feel anxious.
At this time of year there is what seems like a constant barrage of posts and adverts on social media for all the changes that we are meant to be making at the start of a new year.
In fact there is evidence that as long as 4000 years ago the ancient Babylonians were resolving to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects that they had borrowed. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations to honour the new year although it was not in January but in mid-March when the crops were planted.
New Year Resolutions are used to attempt to achieve something dramatic, to make a significant change just like that. As the though the magic toll of a church bell, the singing of Auld Lang Sang and a toast give you the inner resolve and ability to ‘finally smash your goals”.
Don’t get me wrong I believe deeply in our capacity to change and do incredible things. What makes me so anxious, especially at these times, is that so much of what is out there comes from a premise that change is needed because you are not enough, or your life is not enough, and happiness will allude you until you are fitter, thinner, healthier, more creative, more focussed, more flexible…and the list goes on.
And now my stomach is in knots, and it just seems too much and maybe I’ll go back to bed watch Netflix and eat chocolate!
Within our yoga tradition we too have a ritual that is about how we move forward in our lives, and it is the practice of Sankalpa. It is however radically different in that its starting point is simply that:
YOU ARE ALREADY ENOUGH
Sankalpa is an intention, or desire or longing, phrased in the present tense although it were already so.
You already are who you need to be to fulfil your life dharma or purpose. Imagine that your life is like a piece of land with an abundance of life and below the ground there are even more seeds. For some of us those seeds are flowers, and we are like a garden and for some those seeds are oaks and beech and we are like a forest and for some those seeds are luscious fruits and we are like an orchard. And each is as beautiful and purposeful as the other. The seeds are there, and the practice of Sankalpa is nurturing a life that will help them grow.
While the typical New Year’s resolution is abandoned within weeks, if not days, as enthusiasm and willpower run out, a Sankalpa requires none of the ego-driven willpower we typically summon to make changes.
Discovering your Sankalpa is practice of listening deeply. Your heartfelt desire is already present, waiting to be seen, heard, and felt. It’s not something you need to make up, and the mind doesn’t have to go wildly searching for it. It can be as simple as:
I am healthy and do things that nourish my body.
I am a creative being and I nurture that.
A Sankalpa is said as a simple statement expressed in the present. You may not fully believe it right now and that’s okay but feel it as though it were true and start to cultivate and direct your attention and energy in that direction.
It is a positive statement.
It is a practice.
Living your Sankalpa is simply nurturing the land to let the seeds that are already there grow and flourish because…