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Thoughts to Ponder – December 2014

meditation and yoga practicing at sunset

Understanding Samskara's &  The Practice of Sankalpa

So what are those 2 unfamiliar words and  what do they have to do with finding peace and joy in our every day lives?

Samskara's are commonly referred to as habits. Not necessarily just habits such as nail biting, it also includes thinking, reaction and behavior habits. There can also be samskara's when it comes to our practice on the mat. We all have some type of samskara's whether we acknowledge them or not. Many of them have been formed over a long period of time, they are the results of our conditioning and our experiences from the moment we came into the world. Today I am going to address the Samskara's that prevent us from experiencing peace and joy in our every day lives. These are the habits that cause us suffering, stress and agitation. Now the list of the potential habits that could go here is far to long to get into. If you take a moment and become an observer of yourself, your life, even your practice you could probably figure out which of your habits fall in to this category.

Sankalpa is an intention that is set deep in the heart. It is a deep seated resolve to achieve or accomplish something good. Sankalpa is a yogic method that has been used for centuries and it works! There are a few guidelines to go by. A Sankalpa should be short and sweet, only positive words should be used. Word's like not/don't/can't/shouldn't/won't should not be used, as they are negative in nature. The Sankalpa should be personal, after all you are seeking to change yourself not anyone else. We all know that we cannot change others. Also the Sankalpa should be stated in present tense, for example "I maintain peace and calm in all situations" not "I will maintain peace and calm in all situations". Once you've set your Sankalpa it should not change until it is accomplished, no changing the words even if the meaning is the same.

A Sankalpa practice can help us create more peace and joy in our lives. Having a Sankalpa means; I will be decisive and disciplined. I will be whole hearted. My growth is certain. I know I will make mistakes, but I will pick up and continue until my goal is achieved. If you know which Samskaras (habits) are causing you the most suffering you can start there or you can look to the future and determine what it is that you desire to achieve. If you want to give this practice a try consider this. The correct formulation of sankalpa is vital to the success of its practice. So it is worth giving yourself some time to go through this process. I suggest finding some time to sit alone in a quiet place. Sit for a few moments and focus on your breath, clearing the mind. Then do some reflection on the past and allow yourself to dream about the future. Think about what areas of your life you would like to improve, what characteristics you might like to change, what are your goals, what is the purpose of your life. Write things down and when you come up with your Sankalpa put it in writing too. You could be aiming at very specific goals or formulating how you would like to feel in general.

There are many approaches to setting a Sankalpa. If you would like more information on this practice please feel free to contact me via email or by calling the studio.

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