Do you have any resolutions for the New Year? If so, you’re not alone! Many people resolve to change something every time January 1 rolls around on the calendar again.
Let’s take a moment to mull over those resolutions. Are any of them repeaters? Have you made any of these same resolutions in years past? How did it go last time? Do you feel as though you “kept” or were successful with it before?
If not, you’re not alone… numerous studies show that less than 10% of people stick to their resolutions each year. I strongly believe that is because most resolutions arise out of some negative belief we hold about ourselves. Most resolutions tend to imply that we are not “____ enough” the way we are. Not thin enough. Not pretty enough. Not good enough. Not WHATEVER enough… Who enjoys constantly being reminded that they are unacceptable for some reason? Not me… And, for what it’s worth, this is untrue – YOU ARE ENOUGH! You are enough, JUST THE WAY YOU ARE! You are enough, just the way you are, RIGHT NOW!
I invite you to consider transforming those resolutions into something that is much more positive and powerful – a SANKALPA! What in the world is a Sankalpa, you ask? Well, “san” means truth in Sanskrit. “[K]alpa” means a vow, or a rule to be followed above all other rules. Your Sankalpa is the desire or intention that underlies your actions. It is your will, your purpose, your determination – it is the underlying reason for everything you do!
Your Sankalpa can be flexible and subject to tweaking, as you move along your life’s journey. Your Sankalpa essentially provides a theme for your life. Your Sankalpa does not focus on some perceived slight. It explores what is behind your feelings, behaviors and/or actions. It also allows space for outside influences that may affect outcomes – it does not focus solely on results or the fruits of your labor, like resolutions; instead, Sankalpa recognizes your efforts.
Sankalpa discourages feelings of guilt, anger, frustration, impatience or other negative feelings we may develop toward ourselves for not “keeping” or “meeting” resolutions. Sankalpa does not push us toward feelings of self-loathing or disappointment when our actions don’t obtain specific results.
So what does a Sankalpa look like? The best way to show you is to use an example to illustrate the concept. Let’s start with a resolution. One common resolution that I see quite often is related to losing weight. “I will lose 8 pounds each month.” “I will lose 30 pounds this year.” “I will no longer eat lots of cookies.”
If we were to transform those resolutions, the resulting Sankalpa could be something along the lines of, “I recognize that I crave cookies when I’m stressed, angry, sad or upset. I set an intention to become more aware of this craving and allow any unpleasant feelings that I may be experiencing to exist and come to the surface so that I can address them, rather than trying to squelch them with cookies.”
Let’s take another moment to reflect on your existing or past resolutions. Allow yourself to become aware of how those resolutions are making you feel. Do they bring about anxiety or worry? Do you feel overwhelmed, intimidated or under pressure? Are you experiencing fear or intrepidation? Get clear on what you’re feeling. And then ask yourself, “is this how I want to feel in the New Year?” No sugar coating allowed here… be bluntly honest with yourself.
Consider how you could reframe those resolutions in order to make 2019 a more joyful experience! What purpose or intention underlies the resolutions you currently hold? Create a short sentence, phrase or even just a collection of words, that comprise your Sankalpa. Try not to allow any fears you may have to take over – avoid setting limits for yourself based on a belief that you cannot succeed. Sankalpa examples include, “may I have a positive attitude,” or, “may I be happy and open to what life brings me.”
Now, write your Sankalpa down! I suggest using note cards – one card for each component of your Sankalpa. You may have one card…or you may have 20! Do whatever works best for you. On one side of your card, write down the Sankalpa. Then, think about a few action steps you can take to support the Sankalpa and write those down on the back of your notecard!
Take a few minutes to meditate on your Sankalpa. This may take any one of a countless number of forms. Maybe you repeat your Sankalpa silently to yourself, over and over again, utilizing it like a mantra. Maybe you visualize yourself taking the action steps you wrote down on the back of the notecard(s). Again – do whatever works best for you! If your mind starts to wander, bring it back to your Sankalpa – your deepest intention, your highest purpose.
Give this a shot and let me know how it goes! Happy New Year, yogis!