So January is very nearly over and how many of those resolutions you made in earnest at the beginning of the month have you managed to keep? Come on, be honest now! If you've done dry January then I salute you, but if you've fallen off the wagon(!) with not just this, but all your other good intentions for the month/year ahead, maybe you need a short term change of tack to help you reach your long term aspirations.
Let me introduce you to "Sankalpa". "San-what-what?" I hear you say! I'll explain....
The practice of creating a sankalpa is a tradition of Yoga Nidra (a deep state of relaxation or meditation) and I first heard about it from Sally my yoga teacher and owner of Active Inspirations. You may have seen me mention it on my Instagram feed lately too.
A sankalpa is a heartfelt intention:
San - an idea that is formed in the heart;
Kalpa - a rule that is followed above all other rules.
It is considered to be a little seed of resolve you make for an area of your life that you feel needs attention. However, unlike New Year's Resolutions which are often a future possibility, a sankalpa is made in the present tense - I am, instead of I hope to. Why? Well now for the sciencey bit.
Neuroscience and mindfulness research has shown that our subconscious minds don't know the difference between what is true and what is not true, they follow what our conscious minds are telling them to do. So by planting this little seed in a present tense statement as an existing reality and repeating it over and over again, the intention will become embedded in our subconscious minds. In addition, placing it in the present tense makes it a positive thought. Whilst our intentions with our New Year's resolutions are good ones, if you think about it, what we are often saying through them is that when XYZ happens I will be happy and this carries a negative suggestion that who we are, here and now, is not good enough. We're simply setting ourselves up to fail which only leads to further negative feelings.
THE HAPPY NOW
By making these short term intentions in the present tense, not only will we feel instantly more positive, but over time our subconscious mind believes them to be true. And guess what! That means we are much more likely to succeed in achieving our longer term goal. Hurrah!!
THE PRACTICE OF BELIEVING
Have you ever heard the notion that what you believe is what you get? Sankalpa works like that really. So whilst these positive little statements may not be strictly true at the time you make them, keep on believing them and they soon will be.
A sankalpa, like a New Year's resolution is unique to you, but just to give you an idea of the kind of sankalpa you could incorporate in to your life then, for example, if one of your resolutions is to hit the gym a little more often, your sankalpa could be "I am energetic"; if you want to lose weight, you could say "I am healthy"; or my current favourite "I am calm" because who needs stress in their life? Not me, that's for sure!
So if you want to get going and start creating your own Sankalpa, here are my top three tips to help you get started:
What do you want your sankalpa to achieve - maybe you're looking to change a habit, improve a particular aspect of your life or create a change in your personality, a sankalpa needs to be specific
Think about your values - our values are at the heart of everything we do, they are our soul. So be guided by them
Use the KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid) - simplicity is definitely the key when thinking about your sankalpa and on that note, don't overthink it either!
Image from Pinterest
What I particularly like about creating a sankalpa is that it is something that we can integrate in to our lives every single day. If we're feeling stressed, we can tell ourselves we are calm (told you it was my favourite!); if you've had a bad day and want tomorrow to be better, start that day by telling yourself "today is a good day", you will feel instantly better equipped to handle any curve balls that come your way during the day; and if it means it stops you counting down to wine o'clock and it helps your resolve of a Dry January continue into Dry February, then that has to be a good thing.
I think my favourite analogy and the thought I'd like to leave you with is that our sankalpa are little stepping stones helping us across the river of life.
ps - if you get stuck creating your own sankalpa, then you've not already come across them, the yesmum affirmation cards do exactly what I've been talking about; daily doses of positive affirmation. Go check them out!