“Goals are external achievements. Intentions are about your relationship with yourself and others.” – Donna Zanjonc
As 2021 comes to an end it is a time for new beginnings, making plans and setting goals. Many of you will make or consider making New Year resolutions. As an alternative I invite you to consider focusing more on your core values and intentions rather than setting specific goals. Goal setting is still a very valuable practice particularly for the completion of tasks and they can motivate you. It is particularly helpful if you make those goals S.M.A.R.T – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. But setting large, unachievable goals can set you up for failure and this is why so many New Year’s resolutions are not fulfilled or not even started.
A Sankalpa or heartfelt intention is much different. San refers to a connection that we make to support our highest truth, an idea that is formed in the heart. Kalpa means vow, or committed intention. Being intentional allows you to focus on how you want to be in the moment regardless of whether you achieve your goal or not. Setting a Sankalpa is an opportunity for clarity, self-reflection, and discovery. It becomes a place to discover your life’s purpose or dharma, and informs you of a path or particular direction to follow in life.
To write a powerful Sankalpa frame it as a positive and present tense statement. Make it something you believe in and can easily remember. Goals are a destination or specific achievement whereas intentions are lived each day, independent of achieving the goal or destination. A common New Year resolution people may set is that they want to lose weight, join a gym or regularly attend a yoga class. Instead set the intention I am radiant and healthy, then regardless of the goal you can continue to work on that intention all year round.
Still not sure what to write for your Sankalpa? Ask yourself these questions. What do I want to “feel” more of in my life? What circumstances could bring forth more of that feeling? In what direction do I want to grow at this point in my life? What would that growth feel or look like to me? Be specific and believe in your Sankalpa, don’t over think it and keep it simple, short and direct. Get creative with your intentions by representing them visually on a vision board or in a journal. You could also simply write your intention down and put it somewhere you can see it as a daily reminder like on your bathroom mirror. Your heartfelt intentions are much more powerful when they are written down and out of your heart and head.
Another powerful way to embody your heartfelt intention is to use it during your yoga practice in deep relaxation and/or meditation. After you have settled yourself, your physical body and your breathing, state your Sankalpa three times to yourself, in the present tense, as if it is already happening. It could be as simple as “I am enough” or “I am filled with joy and peace.”
In Dru Yoga Energy Block Release 3 “Awaken Your Heart” is a beneficial sequence to work with to set your intentions and goals. This sequence works on the heart area or Anahata chakra which is the secret of your inner light and intuition. It will strengthen your self love, personal empowerment and inner joy. Another beneficial practice for the New Year is the Dru Salutation to Four Directions to reveal new ways of looking at life. This movement sequence is a panacea for many of the challenges we encounter in our lives. You can add your own colours and affirmations as you repeat the sequence facing each of the four directions.
Finally don’t forget to take a quiet moment to tune in and reflect on your intentions regularly in a journal or as part of a meditation. Take time to celebrate your achievements or refocus your actions towards that overall heartfelt intention. But most of all be kind, compassionate and mindful about your intentions and make it a joyful and creative process.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu