Sunday, August 16, 2009
Sankalpa: Planting the Seed of Intention
I believe intentions are powerful. Salkalpa is the Sanskrit word for our intention and is likened to planting a seed. Setting intentions has everything to do with what we feel we are worthy of in this world, and then having the courage to ask for what we want. Yoga is one way of holding a conversation with that something that is larger than us. Yoga is a practice of becoming mindful, and conditioning body, mind, and spirit to do something about our intentions. It is preparing the soil for our intentions to grow.
We prepare the soil of our intentions by making the time (even just a few minutes daily) to clear the chatter in our minds. Clear your mind, and then tune in and plant the seed of what you want. The seed you plant, your Sankalpa, could be for greater health, mental or spiritual clarity, an improved relationship, a better work situation, financial abundance, world peace, a lifetime supply of chocolate, or anything else. As we start our yoga or meditation practice, we give ourselves a moment to reflect on why we are practicing, even if what we need or want seems like it has nothing to do with yoga postures. Then, as we practice, each step, each breath, each yoga posture, is a move forward, in that direction, a dedication to our Sankalpa.
Our internal conversation could go something like, "I may not know what to do to help make the world more peaceful, but that is my intention and at this moment silencing my distractions and practicing Warrior II is the step I'm taking toward that end." Remember that yoga is a gift to help us understand a bigger picture of who we are. With that greater experience and knowledge, with that health and clarity, we have the tools to accomplish what we set out for. At other times, our attention and effort of yoga are a type of preparation, so that we eventually can see more clearly and act more purposefully. Some might even see yoga practice best as a prayer in body and breath. In any case, it is starting the conversation with the universe regarding what we'd like to see grow in our lives.
Whether consciously or not, or with clear wise purpose or not, we are intending things all the time. Where are you putting your mental, emotional, and physical energy? Like one of my teachers, Judith Lasater says, "What is worrying, but praying for what you don't want."
So, what do you want? Put it out there. Then work and watch and see how God or the Universe (or whatever you feel is that bigger "something") responds. Be ready to learn from that response. Open your mind to possibility, but do not deceive yourself. We are not dictators in this large universe; we are not in complete control (thank goodness!), but we can confidently join our voices in the song, confidently twirl our bodies in the dance--creating with Life, in a partnership. In this cosmic game of chess, Sankalpa is making a move and watching to see what comes next. This is yoga, aligning ourselves with what's bigger.
Be thinking about what you need or want in your life. Come to class with this intention and place it on the proverbial altar. We'll plant the seed and watch how it grows.
The following is a very old mantra (taken from a hymn in the Rigveda) that you may want to learn as you are working with your Sankalpa.
Everything on the earth and in the sky and in between
Is arising from one effulgent source.
If my thoughts, words, and deeds
Reflected a complete understanding of this unity,
I would be the peace I am seeking in this moment
oṃ bhur bhuvaḥ svaḥa
tat savitur vareṇyaṃ
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayat