Thursday night I had the opportunity to practice at the studio, not something I get to do often late in the week, so it was a real treat. Especially because It seems like ever since I completed the 60 Day Yoga Challenge back on the 10th of December, my asana practice has kind of fallen off the mat, and it’s amazing to me how having external motivators in place, like a challenge, can totally change the way we, or I as it were, approach self-discipline. Anyway, I was super psyched when I arrived at the Yoga Room to see that Susan had written the word Sankalpa on the dry-erase board, which is the Sanskrit word for will, purpose or determination, how perfect.
Sankalpas are intentions, similar to resolutions, and yet quite different. Sankalpas are often positive things we wish to cultivate – like peace, compassion, love, or truthfulness. Resolutions, on the other hand, are often about decreasing something, giving an indulgence up like alcohol, fatty foods, sugar, or TV… sometimes a list of New Years resolutions can feel like punishment, or self-denial.
So in this way, a sankalpa is actually the opposite of a resolution. It’s about increasing not decreasing. And the process of creating more space for our intentions to grow, instead of the often difficult task of giving something up. Sankulpas foster positive self-image, whereas resolutions can run the risk of making you feel like you’ve been perpetually coming up short.
Here we are on the cusp of yet another new beginning. And whether you believe this is the dawn of just another new day – which in itself is still a miracle, or if you celebrate New Year’s Eve as the end of one year, and beginning of a new chapter in your life, it is without a doubt a time when many people take a moment to reflect on the past and look towards the future with fresh eyes. The end of the December presents us with a chance to re-evaluate where we are in our lives, our relationships, our careers and of course, our practice. So if writing down a list of resolutions is not your cup of tea, perhaps thinking about the sankalapas you wish to cultivate in the year to come will get you closer to a place of greater equanimity.`
Anyway, however deep your intentions are, or long your list or resolutions may be, I wish you many powerful and compassionate sankalaps in the year 2012. May your New Years Eve celebrations allow you a moment to be grateful for all that you have, and all the beautiful things to come.
I celebrated earlier this evening, as Griffin, Burr and I watched a Fantasia-esuqe sunset over Cisco beach on the Western side of Nantucket. The moment flooded my heart with love and gratitude as I watched my two most special people smile at the simplicity of the setting sun. Griffin excitedly pointed to the great ball of fire in the sky exclaiming “hot” over and over again, while a big bright rainbow spanned the horizon behind us. It was the perfect ending to a transformative year.
Many thanks to all my friends, family, students, teachers and mentors for all there continued support. To my son, for giving me a reason so much bigger than myself to continue down the path of Self-realiztion. And to my partner, for nurturing me along the way.