Setting your Sankalpa

Do you sometimes feel like it´s ground-hog day every New Year? Setting the same old intentions beginning with “I will / will not…” and then finding that you often meet failure by mid January?

A sankalpa practice starts from the radical premise that you already are who you need to be to fulfil your life’s dharma (purpose). All you need to do is focus your mind, connect to your most heartfelt desires, and channel the divine energy within.

The word “sankalpa” can literally be translated to be san “highest truth” and kalpa “ a sacred ”. So, it’s honouring your deepest truths. Beautiful, no?

So how do I start? Start by asking yourself the burning questions about why you are here and whether you are living your purpose and passion. What is it that you really want this year to bring for you? How can you start over again? Are you truly happy and where you want to be? What do you need to do to work towards your dharma, or to offer more of yourself? Be more brave, more honest, more bold, more courageous, more believing… rather than the same old, I will not smoke and I will not eat chocolate. It’s so much more empowering when you shift your focus to the positive.

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 which comes from heartfelt desire and connection to one’s dharma. “A sankalpa isn’t a petition or a prayer,” Miller says, “It is a statement of deeply held fact, and a vow that is true in the present moment.”

For this reason, your sankalpa—both the heartfelt desire and the specific intention—should be stated in the present tense. For example, rather than saying, “I want to be more compassionate,” your sankalpa might be, “Compassion is my true nature” or “I am compassion itself.” Rather than setting the intention, “I will not eat meat,” your specific sankalpa might be, “With compassion for my body and for other beings, I will follow a vegetarian diet.” Stating your sankalpa in the present tense acknowledges the tremendous will, energy, and truth that arrives with the discovery of your heartfelt desire. It also reminds you that whatever is required of you is already within you.

And it’s not always easy. If it was, it would be boring… Even instances when you forget your intentions can be transformed into support for your sankalpa. Anne Douglas uses the memory of these missed opportunities to prepare students for future choices. “Go back in time to a point where you lost it. Go back to that sensory feeling of compulsion, reimagine it, and recreate the moment. Once you’re fully in that feeling, imagine not giving in to the habit. Pull up the power of your sankalpa, and let yourself feel the heartfelt desire in your whole body. Then go back to remembering the feeling of compulsion. Surf back and forth, making the feeling of the heartfelt desire stronger each time.”

Why not join us on the mat in 2016 and really learn how to set and achieve your sankalpa. Check out our 2016 Retreats Schedule for full details. Or email us at