As the year takes its final bow to usher in a fresh new 2014, how many of you have made a new year’s resolution? You know; be fitter, healthier, shed a bad habit, find a new job/hobby – that kind of thing.
How often do you make a new year’s resolution, with high hopes (or half-hearted ones) only to break it by the end of January? Do you even remember what your resolution was from the beginning of this year?
So how do we keep the hope alive and bring the goal to fruition throughout the year?
We could take a leaf out of yoga’s wise book. In yoga this resolution is called sankalpa; a positive statement to transform negative thoughts into positive ones. The trick is to harness the willpower by repeating and re-affirming this statement every day. According to Swami Saytananda:
“The sankalpa is one of the most effective means of training the mind..a powerful method of reshaping your personality and direction in life, along positive lines.” [i]
Formulating a sankalpa can be the first stumbling block, with so many choices and opportunities, how many of us really know what we want out of life? How to decide on one single goal? As Swami Satyanada says:
“Most of us are floundering in the darkness, like ships without rudders, sails without sheet anchors. We don’t know which way we are headed because we are being led. Using the technique of Yoga Nidra, however, we have a choice in life, and that choice is created by the sankalpa.” [ii]
The sankalpa, repeated mentally on a daily basis, at a time when you’re feeling calm, is like planting a seed into the soil and watering it. It is also repeated at the beginning and end of Yoga Nidra—a deeply relaxing meditation from a lying down position that releases all physical, mental and emotional tensions—a practice I highly recommend for fatigue, stress, anxiety and overall wellbeing.
Now you may have to practice Yoga Nidra many times before you formulate your sankalpa. That’s no big deal, I haven’t met anyone yet who doesn’t enjoy and feel the benefit from Yoga Nidra.
I have adopted this sankalpa, it’s a poem that was pinned to my dear Auntie’s wall, who passed away recently. She embodied this as her philosophy and purpose, not just for one year but for her whole life.
“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” Mahatma Gandhi
I have other goals that are more achievement-based but I hope this resolve will help me to become less self-centred, less competitive, to shed my ego and soften the hard edges that sometimes cluster around my heart.
Wishing you a joyful, peaceful and healthy new year, in which all your goals and dreams are realised.
[i] Satyananda Yoga Teacher Training YS1 2010; from Yoga Nidra text, Sowing the Seeds of Change
[ii] Satyananda Yoga Teacher Training YS1 2010; from Yoga Nidra text, Sowing the Seeds of Change
Sankalpa, Sowing the Seed of Change. Australian Yoga Life, Issue 21, July-November 2008.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Yoga Nidra, Yoga Publication Trust, Bihar, 2008