Last week, I made a trip to a Bookman’s store whilst waiting for a yoga class at the local YMCA. In the magazine section I found a past copy of the Himalayan Institute’s Yoga International.
Flicking through the pages, I stumbled upon an article entitled “Inspired Intention”. As I read the first few paragraphs I realised it was intimately connected to the dilemma I had with goal-setting and yoga, as discussed in last week’s post.
The article written by Kelly McGonigal discusses: “The Nature of Sankalpa: The yoga tradition offers a profound formula for realizing your heartfelt desires—without asking you to change who you are.”
To break down the yoga philosophy sankalpa is a form of goal setting with high intentions.
Basically, as the article points out, the yoga-art of goal setting involves finding a greater purpose, and that is your dharma.
Dharma is a word full of meaning and mystery and, according to Eastern philosophy, it sets a premise for everything in life. Your dharma is your heartfelt desire – your true vocation, and once you have your vocation figured out (which can take a while), setting a sankalpa-goal suddenly makes sense!
To set a sankalpa involves time & energy, but the results are ten-fold. Rod Stryker, who is quoted in the article states:
“Direct your energy with intention, but be mindful that your nature is unchanged whether you achieve your goals or not. Live as contentedly as possible in between the goal and realizing the goal.”
This might sound alittle complicated, but as McGongal writes, the funny thing about sankalpa-goal-setting is that it is full of contradictions:
“You start by identifying what you want, but the only way to realize it is to acknowledge that you already are it, and already have it.”
So let’s say you want to get fit and run a 5km. At first you might think that sounds like a simple goal, but looking more closely, consider questions such as: Why do you want to run a 5km? How will your life change if you run a 5km? How will you feel as you start the training? It’s a much greater process than just thinking about the initial goal of running a 5km. And as you start working towards the 5km, and then complete it, you realise it only took a few small intentions and resolves, a couple of tweeks and changes along the way to do it! You were capable all along!
Realising our path, and setting goals builds on the words from last week’s post. We need to keep serving others, serving ourselves, and work on the the cycle of setting true, heart-felt intentions (not those just led by the ego)!
In the process of working out my own inspired intentions, I wrote a quick post card, and am hoping this will help…
I know have everything I need to meet you, but it’s just going to be tricky.
It’s going to take all my energy, staying active and working hard – wisely…
I also know it won’t happen overnight, and that it’s a long road, so I’ve set a few mile markers along the way (1. regular yoga practice 2. consistent running 3. being compassionate 4. deep breathing – and that’s just to start with).
Don’t worry, I won’t give up! I will listen to my heart along the way, and won’t let my mind go racing off. And yup: Don’t believe the hype.
Maybe you have a few tips on finding your dharma and setting a sankalpa? What would you recommend?
Yoga Journal also writes about sankalpa here and dharma here, two articles well worth reading.