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Sankalpa and Intentional Resolution

Jan 08, 2022

Yoga invites us to meet each moment with fresh eyes, an open heart, and to explore how we initiate our interactions with life. The New Year is a wonderful time to start new projects, let go of regret, and to contemplate and consolidate our life via personal inventory. Rather than feed compulsions that fragment us, we can choose to 'satisfice'. Coined by economist and psychologist Herbert Simon, 'satisfice' is a combination of 'satisfy' and 'suffice'. It is to focus on what is of value to self, rather than on what others have or ideas of what achievement looks like.

In our New Year's Sankalpa retreat, a student shared his insight that perhaps more important than our to-do list, is our 'not to do list'! When we free our self from the largely unexamined collective ideology of success with its unattainable standards, we are freed-up to be self-motivated and self-direct from a place of personal sufficiency. Our new yardstick becomes a measure of quality over quantity. We have clear understanding of the preciousness of our time, attention and the tremendous gift of being alive. It is a healthy and realistic realignment of our entire life to higher values (Sankalpa) in which we don't strive for perfection, but enjoy our limitless potential for growth. Letting go of ideas of right and wrong, success or failure renders us free to embrace what brings joy!

 Patanjali's Sūtra Wisdom

दृष्टानुश्रविकविषयवितृष्णस्य वशीकारसञ्ज्ञा वैराग्यम्॥१५॥

I:15 Dṛṣta ānusravika viṣaya vitṛṣṇasya vashīkāra samjñā vairāgyam

Supreme detachment and self-mastery is letting go of the desire for anything seen

or heard about, including any promise of heaven or liberation.

Vairāgya is perfected when we no longer have a desire for a certain outcome, and appreciate that Yoga is a continual process of delving deeper into the endlessly subtle layers of the psyche. We understand that even if samādhi were to be achieved in this lifetime, still, we would never stop practicing. We are advised to give up the desire for anything that we might wish for, whether it is samādhi, the siddhi (supra-normal powers), the promise of heaven, fame, status, achievement, or any other golden carrot. This can be very challenging in the current age, where Yoga has become so sensationalized, and has such an enormous potential for big business. Patañjali implores, “Don’t miss the point! Letting go is the goal!” 

If we practice without attachment to the fruits, what are we left with? In the Bhāgavad Gīta, Kṛṣṇa teaches that we never own the fruits of our labors, only the actions. Can we practice with relish, for the sole enjoyment of the adventure of our personal process, rather than out of obligation, expectation, or desire? Can simply knowing we are exploring life’s greatest mysteries, be sufficient to satisfy us? True success is to become increasingly absorbed in developing yogik science as an art, and endless possibilities of self-expression and personal discovery.

                                                                        Excerpt from my book "The Yogi's Roadmap"

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