As another 365 day-period draws to a close, resolutions are on many people’s minds as we prepare for a new year. What would we like to accomplish in the new year? What would we like to change, rectify, add to or delete from our lives? Resolutions are generally goal oriented, focused on a noticeable end result (losing weight, having a child, moving house, changing jobs, etc). The glitch is that resolutions often don’t stand up to the test of time, and somewhere into the second or third month of the new year, a good majority of the resolutions set have been long forgotten, taken over by old habit patterns. Why?
My guess is that resolutions slip to the back of mind for most of us because we spend the majority of our time living ‘unconsciously’; unaware of the thoughts we have and the motivations behind our actions. As humans, we have active minds that are deluded into believing we are omniscient; in reality we have no concept of how our thoughts impact our own behaviour and the world around us and are living in the dark, entrenched by lifetimes of mis-knowing (avidya).
Intention setting cuts through the illusiveness of pie-in-the-sky resolutions, focusing instead on the motivation behind the stated goal. In turn, the lens of perception is widened, enabling a deep look within to what lies underneath the desired outcome. The broadening extends outward as well, and in this way the practice of intention setting is just as much about the process of connecting inward and outward as it is about attaining an end result. A constant reflection between motivation and action keeps the intention an active addition to everyday life.
There is a word in Sanskrit that means determination, will or good intention, and this word is sankalpa. We can think of sankalpa as a unifying force that is at the most subtle level behind all of manifestation. Deepak Chopra describes it as the most essential building block for all of manifest destiny. “As is your desire so is your intention. As is your intention so is your will. As is your will so is your deed. As is your deed so is your destiny.”
How to set a Sankalpa
Go on a Journey: Think about some typical resolutions you have in mind and see how they make you feel. Then ask yourself how you would like to feel each day. See if you are able to travel beyond the goal-oriented resolution into the space that holds the motivation. Be honest but be compassionate with yourself. The process is not about judging or critiizing, but about reflection and acceptance.
Sing it: Reframe the resolution into a positive, short statement that you can use as a mantra or a chant. Use positive words and active, present-tense verbs to help keep the statement alive.
Let it go. There is little we actually fully understand and control int he world. Have faith that by offering your energy up to the Universe, all will be taken care of.
Setting a sankalpa requires letting go of the desired end result, committing to the process of positive and compassionate intention rather than clinging to the outcomes. When we move from living deluded and unconsciously to living consciously and illuminated by the universe, our “deed becomes our destiny”; resolutions of the past become intentions of today. Enjoy the process, that is the practice!