A long time ago, feels almost like another lifetime actually, Pete and I used to own a beautiful little yoga studio called White Pine Yoga.
For over 7 years, we lived and breathed the practice of yoga and poured every inch of our hearts into that incredible place, until two years ago, when we sold it.
And although we no longer really consider ourselves ‘yoga teachers’, the gifts and the giving of that practice are forever woven throughout almost every aspect of our lives.
So, today I thought I’d share with ya’ll a really lovely yogic concept called SANKALPA.
The practice of Sankalpa is this really profound formula for change. For honouring ourselves, encouraging us to realize our most heartfelt desires and helping us achieve them without changing who we are.
Every January, folks all over the world set New Years resolutions. We push and we pull and try to muster up all of our willpower to change not just what we do, but who we are. We set big and imposing goals, unrealistic expectations and weave a story in our minds, imagining how happy we'll be, how fulfilled we’ll feel, when we finally get what we want.
But year after year, almost always, we fail. Because we are moving from an assumption that who we are isn’t good enough. Our resolutions are reinforcing the mistaken belief that our happiness depends on acquiring what we want.
But this yogic concept of Sankalpa offers a cool and refreshing alternative.
A practice that begins with this radical idea that we’re already who we need to be to feel fulfilled and connected in our life's purpose.
It all goes back to this idea of Being vs. Becoming. There is always going to be a part of us that is transcendent, at peace and doesn’t need anything at all. But we also have a part of us that comes to life with purpose, with goals and with dreams. A part of us that is ‘becoming'. To live a fulfilled and harmonious life, we must find a way to integrate these two seemingly opposite aspects of who we are. To feel true happiness, we have to walk both paths simultaneously.
Focusing on our intention, our Sankalpa, but being mindful that our true nature, who we really are, is unchanged whether we achieve our goals or not.
So how do we set goals while STILL honouring and loving and accepting who were are in this moment??
Well, with Sankalpa, we do this by repeating a statement. Rooted in a truth, a knowing that we are exactly who, what and where we need to be.
“Kalpa” means vow, or a rule to be followed. “San” refers to a connection to your deepest truth.
So Sankalpa is a vow we make to support our deepest truths.
It speaks to the deepest parts of ourselves, to the overriding purpose of why we’re here.
And we come back to it, over and over again, to remind us of who we are and to help guide our thoughts, our words and our choices.
Typical resolutions are abandoned within weeks, days or even hours because we are usually chasing things that lead us further from our centre. A Sankalpa is already inside of us, already there. Bringing us back home to our centre.
And because its already there, already true - the energy, the willingness, the honouring, is already there too.
So, how do we create our Sankalpa?? How do we craft our guiding statement?
Well, it requires no action, no change. It comes from a place of fullness and abundance.
You already ARE the person you’re looking for. You already ARE the qualities you wish to see.
Its just a statement honouring that truth.
So, think about something you want to change this year. Drinking too much coffee, drinking too much alcohol, losing weight, watching too much Netflix…
It doesn’t matter what you chose, as long as its an area of your life that you would like to change.
Now frame it from a place of abundance. Of truth. Not something you are striving for, but as if you already have it (cause you do). Present tense. In this moment.
So instead of “I want to stop mindless eating and lose 20lbs”, try “I am healthy and strong and feed myself whole foods that nourish me.”
Instead of “I want to kick my coffee habit and start sleeping better” try “I honour my body and take care of it with proper sleep and nutrition”.
Instead of “I hope to heal past hurts, I hope to forgive myself”, try “I am already whole, I am already healed.”
Instead of “I’m going to stop being so busy and be a better friend”, try “I care deeply about my friendships and I make time to be a dependable and loving friend."
See that shift??
So write it down. Get really honest. Reframe it.
What do you want for yourself? Who do you want to be in this lifetime? Who are you ALREADY and how will you reclaim it?
Focusing on how you want to feel. Moving from a place of fulfillment, rather than lacking.
And when we fall, when we lose our way, our Sankalpa reminds us that these aren’t failures. They are simply acts of moving away from ourselves. Forgetting who we were for a second. And we can always, always come back.
The momentary stumbling, the forgetfulness, the lack of compassion, isn’t who we truly are. The bag of chips, the thoughtless words, the wrong turns, they aren’t who we are either. Our Sankapla reminds us of who we TRULY are.
So with that remembering, there is no more self loathing, no more feelings of shame or failure or contempt.
Just a feeling of coming home.
Back home to ourselves.
Back home to ourselves.