By Amy Effendy.
Behind every achievement, every success, there is Sankalpa Shakti, the power of will and determination.
Shakti is a power. Without Shakti you cannot be successful. All the great ones on the earth needed Shakti. There was a shakti behind to inspire them. Without inspiration, even the greatest ability is scattered. We need to stoke and sustain our inner fire if we want to pursue our personal growth.
And now what is sankalpa…
Let me break down the words for you…Sankalpa which is the compound of two Sankrit words; Kalpa, which means “a way of proceeding” or, move revealingly, “the rule to be observed above or before any other rule,” and San, “a concept or idea formed in the heart.”
Thus, sankalpa means determination or will, an intention, conviction, vow, or, most commonly, a resolution, one that reflects your highest aspirations. In practical terms, a sankalpa is a declarative statement, resolution, or intention in which you vow or commit to fulfil a specific goal. A sankalpa at first glance looks a lot like a modern-day resolution or intention.
Each New Year we find ourselves looking towards the future, eager to make new goals and promises of who we want to become and how we will shape our lives with big changes. Then halfway through the year, perhaps we start to feel discouraged about the lack of progress towards our set goals and maybe in guilt we abandon them altogether. However if we look deeply, perhaps it’s not our lack of effort that’s the issue, but rather a flaw in the traditional practice of goal setting.
When we set general goals, we tend to only focus on a vague outcome, for example – we create intentions to lose weights, find a more rewarding career, get organized, or attract the ideal relationship, we resolve to change our diet, be more disciplined, work harder, work less hard, spend more time in nature or with our families, do something about our stress levels, enrich our spiritual life, write or read more, stop smoking, get a degree, be a greater force for good in the world, or any one of countless other things we aspire to achieve….
and forget to define the process of getting there – the structure that brings our goals to fruition. By fixating on the outcome rather than the journey, we set ourselves up for discontentment in the present. The goal-oriented mentality of “I’m not good enough yet, but I will be when I reach my goal,” teaches us to continually put happiness and gratitude off until the next milestone. By committing to a process rather than a goal, it takes the stress off our shoulders and creates a structure we can operate within to enjoy progress and accomplishment each day.
It is said that average American makes 1.8 resolution per year. However, based on the research it shows that at least 80% of us do not achieve our resolutions. A recent study found that “four out of five people who make New Year’s resolutions…will eventually break them.” What explains this failure of at least 80 percent of us to fulfil our resolutions?
One very important reason, is that we too often focus on fulfilling our desires without giving much thought to how our desires serve the greater meaning and purpose of our lives. Another reason, from the perspective of the Tantric tradition, is that there is a science to the process for manifesting intention, and if you don’t apply it, you will likely end up as part of the 80% percent who don’t see their resolutions fulfilled.
The simple truth is when a resolution is little more than a wish, even one that you think many times a day, it has relatively little or no impact or power to affect your destiny. However, when you work through the steps involved in achieving a resolution methodically, its reach and its power to affect your destiny become nearly limitless.
The yogic practice of Sankalpa Shakti gives us a tool to shape meaningful intentions and guides our journey towards inner transformation. In its simplest term, a sankalpa is an intention or inner resolve. In its deeper, more profound meaning, it’s a connection to your highest truth and life purpose, your dharma. What’s beautiful about the sankalpa practice on any level is that it starts from the belief that you already embody these qualities and by drawing your attention to them in practice, you’re refining and sharpening your connection to this deeper purpose and desires, and direct that energy in a positive way. The next layer to this is working with Sankalpa Shakti in the more subtle layers of the minds programming. Often, a sankalpa is stated before beginning and ending your Yoga Nidra Meditation to serve as a guide for planting seeds in this deep practice of relaxed states.
Sankalpa or resolution holds a special and highly esteemed place in the ancient teachings. The concept of sankalpa appears even as early as the Rig Veda, the most ancient of all the Vedic text. The art and science of applying sankalpa was considered to be the foundation for achieving or becoming anything of real significance.
Throughout the Vedic and Tantric traditions it is made exceedingly clear that a student cannot make meaningful progress toward any worthwhile goal without first cultivating the power of resolve, what the yogic tradition calls sankalpa shakti.
On this path you must first awaken your sankalpa shakti, the power of will and determination,’ said SWAMI RAMA, ‘overcome your resistance. Expand your capacity…you must order your body and senses to function under the leadership of your mind.’
The ancient concept of Sankalpa is predicated on the principle that your mind has measureless capacity to affect the quality and the content of your life. The ancient traditions, including the Veda, Tantra and Yoga venerated the mind and appealed to the Divine for the mind to be filled with ‘auspicious thoughts’ because they saw the mind as the chief architect of our lives. In other words, they viewed your mind as the ruler of your fate. “The mind is everything. What you think you become,” said the Buddha.
The power to affect your future, therefore, begins by learning to focus your mind. “Each thought influences your mind and creates therein a vibration that affects your whole life, your destiny”.
It is critical to recognize that there is a difference between having a desire and having a sankalpa. You may want something, but that is not the same as creating a sankalpa that you will achieve it. Consider this: a desire is little more than a feeling (sometimes strong and sometimes not so strong) related to a want – to have, to become, or to achieve – something; a sankalpa, on the other hand, is a desire that you are absolutely determined and committed to achieve.
It is not always easy or convenient, but you manage to fulfil your resolve despite the challenges. You make it happen, come hell or high water. Its no longer just a desire, something you would like to happen – it has become a sankalpa, which means that practically nothing can stop it from happening. The essential requirement is that we must have the desire (make it happens no matter what), and, concurrent with that desire, the determination that you will fulfil it. Indeed, according to the Tantric Tradition, this principle of marrying desire with determination is the key to making a Sankalpa truly effective.
Here is the key points for crafting your sankalpa, which is simply to ask yourself of these two questions:
- What do I want to achieve or become?
- What would having it look and feel like to me?
The most efficient way to set down your sankalpa in writing is to imagine that you have achieved your desire; now decide on the words you would use to tell someone that you have done so.
In putting your sankalpa into words, you may also want to include the emotion you would feel when you’ve accomplished it. A statement that is affirmative and clear, and it has the power to influence your thoughts, your actions, and the forces of destiny toward achieving your desires.
Key points to keep in mind when drafting your sankalpa:
- Your sankalpa can focus either on the result you are seeking, the attitude that will help you achieve it, or both.
- Your Sankalpa needs to be specific.
- Your Sankalpa needs to be achievable in six to eighteen months. It is important especially in the beginning, to develop confidence in your ability to achieve your goals.
- You need to believe you can achieve your sankalpa.
- Your sankalpa needs to be worded in the present tense and stated actively. It is essential that your sankalpa statement reflect that you’ve achieve your intention, not that you hope to achieve it someday.
- Your sankalpa needs to be stated in worlds you would actually say. Avoid getting overly poetic or dramatic. Make it simple, direct, clear, believable and concise. Don’t overthink it!