As we approach the start of a new year, it can be a great time to address and release patterns and habits that are not serving us and pave the way for what will.
The trouble I find with goals and resolutions is that we become attached to a particular end result and any deviance makes us feel like we’ve failed. We also tend to formulate them from our thinking minds with their layers of samkara and conflict with the unconscious mind and workings of our being - therefore setting us up to fail as our energy body receives this as conflict not as change which is the opposite of the desired effect and any changes materialising out of sheer will and determination rather than deep rooted and lasting transformation.
An intention however is different than a goal or resolution. With an intention we don’t need to judge whether we win or fail. An intention doesn’t trigger that conflicting voice in our minds. An intention is a direction which allows us to learn from our detours without judgement or conflict so we don’t quit, we don’t fail - we simply notice we’re face deep in the box of chocolate (self observation without judgement) and pull ourselves away from them (re-choosing our new direction) and get back on track (towards our intention).
Where I have found radical and lasting transformation is with the use of intention or sankalpa within the practice of Yoga Nidra. Here we work with intention at the subtle layers of our being. Yoga Nidra is a full body, conscious guided meditation process dating back to the Tantras. Lying down, usually in savasana, you are guided to physically and energetically relax, withdrawing from the senses and external stimuli and coming to rest as open awareness itself in the bliss layers of being or Anandamaya Kosha. In this state intentions can be planted without the presence of the conflicting mental mind and paradigm shifts occur.
But how do you actually go about setting an intention or a sankalpa?
Make your intention about you - How do you want to be in the world? What is your highest expression of yourself?
It should resonate - You know when you have found the right intention for you as it will feel right. It will resonate throughout your entire being. Our intention should create a sense of expansion in the body.
Phrase your intention positively & in the present tense - Your intention should be a statement of truth. You may not fully believe it right now and that’s okay but feel it as though it were true and start to cultivate and direct your attention and energy in that direction.
Being cruel and drawing upon “negative” traits and characteristics seldomly motivates lasting, positive change in ourselves (or in the world). By focusing all our energy on the things we don’t like or don’t want creates discord - which is actually the opposite of the desired outcome! For example rather than "I want to quit smoking” or “I want to be thin" your intention could be “I am healthy and only do things that nourish my body”. Or rather than “I want to be less anxious” your intention could be “I am at peace”. Make your intention withdraw energy from where you don’t want to be and instead direct you to where you want to go.
Keep it simple and concise - So you easily can recall it whenever you need it.
If words aren’t really your thing, perhaps make your intention an image or a sense. As long as it creates the energetic sensation you want; your intention can be truly anything that works for YOU.
However, the best part about working with intentions in Yoga Nidra is that even if you aren’t quite sure of your Sankalpa, the more you practice Yoga Nidra and allow yourself to rest in open awareness - the more you naturally come into better alignment and harmony. Often bad habits and emotional patterns and all the things we tend to set intentions to shift naturally melt away, sometimes without you even realising they have been transmuted.
I’m offering a 12 month Yoga Nidra subscription, to commence and keep fresh your own practice! Each month for a year you receive a new Yoga Nidra recording to practice in the comfort of your own home. Check out my website Essential Nature Yoga for more info about me. Or contact me at essentialnatureyoga.net
Finally, when contemplating what intention is right for you or what direction you wish your life to take it can be helpful to consider this from Yogi Desai:
"What would occupy our mind and attention if we weren’t so busy trying to get recognition, or worrying about what people think about us, or trying to prove to our parents we are good enough, what could we do with the rest of our lives and in fact, what did we come here to do? I’m sure we weren’t put on the planet to occupy ourselves with trying to get others approval for 80 or 90 years. We came into embodied existence for a great purpose” .
What is it that you have come here to do? If you can’t answer that and your greater purpose seems lost or too existential to consider - do not dismay! Instead ask yourself what is it that you truly want from this short and precious life? It’s up to you what we make of it. Perhaps start by looking at the things in life that make you expand? That give you that whole mind, body, being bliss? What are the things that light you up and that make your wild heart sing? DO MORE OF THAT! Be more of YOU...in everything you do and you’ll align with an intention so deep and profound it lies beyond what the body can feel or the mind understand yet all things will fall into place.