Ever get that feeling that life is rushing by yet you have no idea where it’s going? Modern life can be demanding and overwhelming and often times we are living day to day just keeping up with the list of things we need to do. It’s easy to become so accustomed to not having time to do what you want that you can lose touch completely with what those wants even are.
“There is a Zen story about a man riding a horse that is galloping very quickly. Another man, standing alongside the road, yells at him, “Where are you going?” and the man on the horse yells back, “I don’t know. Ask the horse.” I think that is our situation. We are riding many horses that we cannot control.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
The fact that people find time for yoga in this modern rush of life is wonderful and the list of reasons why is as varied as the people who practise. Be it Strength, flexibility, fitness, relaxation or an opportunity to nourish oneself or connect with something beyond ourselves; it doesn’t really matter why you come theres a whole lot of benefits to enjoy. The longer you practise the deeper it goes until one day you discover that Yoga can transform your whole life. Big claim I know, but I also know it’s true.
Yoga can be defined in many different ways but for me the most important word is connection. My practise is my time to connect body breath and mind and experience life directly, without the mental fog of distraction. This inwards focus is an invitation to be intimate with reality and initiate a deeper experience of self. My practise teaches me not only how to move, breath and live more efficiently, It also teaches me to watch my mind without being lost in it, to observe how I react to challenging situations.
It doesn’t matter so much WHAT you do in your practise as HOW, A yoga practise can create an opportunity to experience own wholeness. The best way to do that can differ for different people, and in different moments, so the most important ingredient is to be paying attention. Yoga is an invitation to participate in your own life, connecting mind body and soul to have a coherent conversation with life as it is. We need to become familiar with all aspects of ourselves in order to be able to access and utilise our full potential for creating a meaningful life and a beautiful world. As your practise progresses these inner aspects naturally begin to surface, some of them will be wonderful and beautiful things but others will be more difficult. As we get to know our inner wounds and weaknesses we unlock the potential for healing within them. But how do we stick with our practise when the going gets tough, When we are confronted with our own pain and the seeming security of a couch life beckons? The answer for me lies in Intention.
You might of heard the term Sankalpa used in your classes and you may have even worked with one. Wikipedia Definition:
Sankalpa (Sanskrit: संकल्प) means conception or idea or notion formed in the heart or mind, solemn vow or determination to perform, desire, definite intention, volition or will. In practical terms, the word, Sankalpa, means the one-pointed resolve to do or achieve; and both psychologically and philosophically, it is the first practical step by which the sensitivity and potentiality of the mind is increased; it is known as the capacity to harness the will-power and the tool to focus and harmonise the complex body-mind apparatus.
As a teacher I try not to spend too much of class time talking as I think the best way to learn is to practise, but there’s some things that once understood can increase the power of your practise exponentially. Sankalpa is one of those things.
Simply put a Sankalpa is your heartfelt desire, the thing that inspires you in your life, something you can dedicate yourself to achieving Wholeheartedly without hesitation. We practise forming this desire into a positive statement that we can use to rein in our body, mind and spirit when we start to have doubts, when your energy and enthusiasm is starting to waiver. Working with a sankalpa can transform our practise from a merely physical exercise to a living moving breathing prayer.
The important thing when forming a Sankalpa is not to aim small. Take the time to discover what it is you really want. What is it that inspires your heart? What is it that’s really important to you? No one else can answer these questions for you and you don’t have to explain why, you just have to find and really feel it for yourself. Don’t get caught up thinking about how your going to MAKE your sankalpa happen. We form a Sankalpa as a positive statement as if it is already true. We are powerful beings and if we decide to focus our energy on bringing what we really want into the world Amazing things can and will happen.
Science is proving that our thoughts have a powerful effect on our experience. If we can learn to trust that we can get what we want, we don’t need to act so much from fear of missing out. Slowly slowly, just by being present to life as it is, the energy we free up by releasing self sabotaging habits can be naturally redirected into creating whatever it is we want.
When we go through the daily motions of our lives with out any awareness of what it is we truly want it can be a bit like sleepwalking. Desire can be a tricky energy to work with and many times we shut it down completely rather than doing the work necessary to get right in to the messy emotional human heart of the matter. It takes courage and determination to stay focused on what you want in the face of situations that you didn’t want. You don’t have to run away from the difficulties you can use them to sharpen your resolve.
I believe we all deserve to be happy, and that we can all get what we want. And I have a sneaking suspicion that probably when we get all the way down to the core of the matter, what I really want and what you really want, might not be all that different. Namaste!