New Year Resolution vs. Sankalpa
‘Almost every New Year’s resolution starts with two words: “I will.” We summon our willpower and pledge to change not just what we do but who we are. We set goals and imagine how happy we will be when we get what we want. Most New Year’s resolutions spring from the misguided desires of the ego, senses, and conditioning. They almost always fail because they start from the assumption that who you are is not good enough, and reinforce the mistaken belief that your happiness depends on acquiring what you want.
The yoga tradition offers a refreshing alternative to the New Year’s resolution: the practice of sankalpa, or resolve. A sankalpa practice starts from the radical premise that you already are who you need to be. All you need to do is focus your mind and connect to your most heartfelt desires.
Kalpa means vow, or “the rule to be followed above all other rules.” San refers to a connection with the highest truth. Sankalpa, then, is a vow and commitment we make to support our highest truth. By definition, a sankalpa should honour the deeper meaning of our life. Sankalpa becomes a statement you can call upon to remind you of your true nature and guide your choices.
While the typical New Year’s resolution is abandoned within weeks, if not days, as enthusiasm and willpower run out, a Sankalpa requires none of the ego-driven willpower we typically summon to make changes. Sankalpa is far more all-encompassing than a New Year’s resolution, and requires no change or action. It is literally and simply a statement of who you are, such as “I am already whole, and already healed,” or “I am peace itself.” This resolve comes from deep within us, directly out of the mystery of who we ultimately are. It then informs our mind of a particular direction that we need to take, or are taking in our life. Discovering your Sankalpa is a process of listening. Your heartfelt desire is already present, waiting to be seen, heard, and felt.
It’s natural to identify a desire as “I want” and an intention as “I will” or “I won’t.” But these phrases lack the truth of the commitment that comes from heartfelt desire. A Sankalpa is a statement of deeply held fact, and a vow that is true in the present moment.'
An excerpt from K McGonigal’ s article published on Yoga International on 12/06/2013