We are all familiar with the concept of the New Year's Resolution - we promise ourselves that we will hit the gym daily, drop a dress size and start meditating. We start with good intentions, and inevitably end up in a pile of Quality Street wrappers, full of chocolate and self-loathing.
However, this doesn't mean that we should give up entirely on our goals and aims. We all have things that we wish to strive for, and the practice of setting and working towards goals can be a hugely positive and beneficial practice. During my studies to become a yoga teacher we spent some time discussing the concept of San kalpa - the practice of setting heartfelt intentions as a powerful tool for transformation.
San kalpa roughly translates from Sanskrit to mean 'a vow from the place of highest truth', and goes far back in Yogic philosophy to the Ancient Hindu texts of the Vedas. It is a positive declaration or affirmation that is less about our own individual will and desires and is more in connection with our truest nature - that is, whatever we state as our San kalpa already really lies within us.
Setting your San kalpa
It is best to set your San kalpa after a short period in quiet contemplation or meditation. You may have something in mind straightaway. If not, then stay in the silence a little longer and think about what you want qualities you want to create or bring into your life; abundance, connection, peace, for example.
Then we set our San kalpa by forming our intention into a short, positive statement that is in the present tense. So rather than stating 'I want to feel more peaceful', we might state 'I am peaceful' or 'peace is my true nature'. This simple change in phrasing already plants the seed of intention more firmly in the mind but affirming to ourselves that we already are the way we wish to be. We repeat our San kalpa three times in our head, and then let the seed of intention that we have set blossom and grow.
If you are in the practice of Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep), then setting your San kalpa at the start of the practice is said to be highly beneficial as the intention can implant within the subconscious whilst the mind is in a highly relaxed, yet alert, state.
You can bring your San kalpa back into your mind at any point in order to reinforce the intention, however, the main point to take away is that whatever your San kalpa, those qualities already reside within you.
"Energy flows where intention goes" - James Redfield
Do you include a San kalpa within your practice? I'd love to know your experiences with intention setting