In Sanskrit, the ancient language of Yoga, there is a special word: SANKALPA.
SANKALPA has many layers of meaning. My understanding is that it is the deep, heartfelt desire to do, become, or nurture something in our lives or ourselves. Sankalpa means to become one with — to align ourselves with the living energy of our deepest desires. From this perspective, intention becomes less of something that we do, and more of something that we somehow express, through our thoughts, words, and actions.
I love this rich and pulsating understanding of intention. Intention can be with us through every beat of our lives. Like a precious gem we hold safely tucked inside the folds of our heart, we are delighted each time we reach in and touch our Sankalpa.
This perspective of intention as living energy offers us some really clear messages about how we manifest and co-create our lives.
Yes, the ancient yogis and yoginis knew the power and potential of our human ability to create! And this wisdom is held in the sacred meaning of Sankalpa.
The Four Part Formula for Powerful Intentions
To bring something to life, we must feel the desire for it, that is, in our bodies. The very primal and embodied experience of desire (a deep and lasting desire, not a fleeting one) is the fuel for our Sankalpa. In other words, a Sankalpa is not something we think we should be or do. Our intentions don’t even need to make rational sense at all. Any artist will tell you that much of their creative work comes out of a feeling that takes expression through them and becomes something as a result. Living your Sankalpa is like living art. And like art, a Sankalpa is open to interpretation and is fluid in its expression.
Your Sankalpa can take many different forms: from an image to an idea, or a feeling in raw form. A Sankalpa is uniquely yours; it fuels you and provides its own fuel by fueling you. Living our Sankalpa is jumping into the living cycle of conscious creativity.
While a goal might look like achieving a job position or buying a new home, an intention is more of an inside job to become something or someone. Living our Sankalpa means allowing a natural evolution to unfold within us. When we intend to become rather than to have, and our creative energy and mental focus are well-directed, we can naturally achieve outer things with more ease. But that’s not what it’s all about. Our process of becoming — as a seed into a flower — is the juice of life itself. The process is the purpose.
Becoming more aligned with our true heart’s desires makes our time here on earth that much more beautiful and meaningful to us and others. And staying present with our Sankalpa means that all else that needs to happen, will. We can relax and enjoy who we are becoming in the process.
Yogis and Yoginis understand the power of the subconscious mind. It is not our everyday thinking and planning mind that truly guides our way. Our deeper, subconscious mind is the source and beginning of our daily ebbs and flows, ponderings, intelligence, and memories.
A Sankalpa is like a vibrant seed we consciously choose to nurture and direct our energy into, and the subconscious mind is the fertile bed of all we’ve been encoded with to nurture and grow it.
Practices and techniques like Yoga Nidra and some forms of meditation are designed especially for planting Sankalpa seeds in the fertile soils of the subconscious mind. Getting to know your subconscious will provide you with a wealth of insight, inspiration, and intuitive knowledge.
We are not in this alone! Accessing the deeper parts of our mind and listening for the heart’s deeper desires means trusting in the wisdom of your inner guide, and leaning into that. We are always co-creating with elemental forces, universal forces, and with one another. Living our Sankalpa means surrendering the need to do it all ourselves, and remembering that we are always in relationship.
We can lean into sources of trust and support when it’s needed or wanted along our journey, and they are foundational to our success on any level. Community is healing! Finding a circle of trust — maybe others who are also living a conscious intention — can be an endless resource of energy and encouragement. We are never truly alone.