A Sankalpa practice starts from the fundamental basis that you already are who you need to be to fulfill your life’s purpose. It cultivates a connection to your deepest desires, a focused mind, and an ability to direct your inner power in a current that flows towards your highest purpose.
This New Years, I didn’t set any traditional resolutions, and instead began the year after finding my own inner compass and setting a Sankalpa, or resolve for the year ahead. Most resolutions start out with the idea the idea that we are essentially not “good” enough as we are and we must do something to change. In Yoga, setting a Sankalpa practice is instead based on the idea that you are already have within you everything needed to fulfill your life purpose or dharma.
Rather than setting a resolution that relies on consistent willpower, which typically fails, a Sankalpa acts as an underlying current of intention that flows continuously in a direction of ones dharma. “San” refers to a connection to the highest truth and “kalpa” signifies a vow, or rule to be adhered to above everything else. While traditional resolutions require will power and tend to focus on shallow aspects of our self and actions, a Sankalpa is a deeper, more encompassing, unwavering, reminder of our true nature, our highest-self, and our true purpose. It flows beneath all of our choices and actions.
A Sankalpa practice asks us to get in touch with our deepest, most heartfelt desires. These deepest desires can tell us about who we are and the life that we were born to live. Often for a resolution, people pick one small or shallow aspect of their life. A common choice is to get in shape. The Sankalpa practice takes it to a deeper meaning. Sankalpa asks why and seeks to know and reveal what the true desire is underneath that simple longing. Is there a deeper need that is asking to be nourished? If we want to get in shape, is the deeper desire that we want to be loving to ourselves and others, we want to fully value our life, we want freedom from pain, or do we desire the feeling of acceptance? The initial intention, such as wanting to get in shape, can lead us to the deeper truth and desire we are seeking to fulfill.
Knowing the true intention of our goals, allows us to act on them on a way that is more in alignment with one’s purpose. When our actions become tied to the arrow of our dharma, rather than to the rules that could conflict with it, there is less resistance and our arrow projects forward faster and farther.
The downfall of a resolution is that it can create more resistance, guilt, and a sense of failure that knocks us off course. If we have simply resolved to get into shape, and months later we find ourselves indulging in chocolate, we tend to say I have failed, I don’t know why I tried, and now I give up. However if our true desire behind getting in shape was to love our-self, we can say I love myself, I am indulging today because this is what I need, this is enjoyable, I feel amazing and I am still going to yoga tonight and I am not bringing any guilt to my mat.
It does not excuse actions that are not in alignment, instead it allows us to continue moving forward despite our challenges and set-backs. It is important to review our challenges, the moments that felt off course from our true path. When we look back on these instances objectively, we can ask if our Sankalpa was being honored or not. If we see that our choice took us of path, we can re-imagine the experience, visualizing what it would have looked like if we had been honoring our resolve. Doing this ritually is intended to naturally direct our future choices. When a similar moment arises, we will know which arrow to choose from our holster, and where to aim it. It is a practice that must be on going, and over time we become better and better, more refined, more skilled in directing our arrow of life.
A Sankalpa also allows no experience to go to waste. If an experience we co-created pulled us away from our purpose, we may look to our resolve to return it to a productive part of our path. It isn’t just what happens to us, or what we did to ourselves, it is how we return to our true nature after it. If we have taken an action that ventured away from our true desire, we must seek how to transmute the setback into an opportunity to become closer to our purpose. It allows us to define what was essentially the food that nourished our purpose, vs the scarp to be discarded, and what purpose could the scarp serve. Often times we may find that the discarded scraps are nourishment to grow something new.
For example, if we want to love our self, and we see getting in shape is one aspect, but we were distracted and didn’t go to the gym for a week because we discovered a show we loved. The show doesn’t have to be a down fall. Instead we could transform our desire to watch the show into motivation. Could you reward yourself by only allowing yourself to watch it after your work out, could you find a gym buddy to talk to who watches the same show, could you make your home work-out more enjoyable by watching it while you do it? Live as fully alive as possible in between your goal and realizing it. Your nature and purpose go unchanged in the space between the two.
2016 Fully Alive 101
By: Kimberly Babin
By: Kimberly Babin
When I look back on my personal Journey, I remember coming across that golden word “gratitude” over and over again. I will be a little vulnerable here, and let you know I used to cringe at that word. I was in such a low place, and was trying to pull myself up, and that little “gratitude” word really hit a sensitive spot. It broke my heart each time I read an article, listened to a podcast, or read a book that said one thing I needed to focus on was gratitude. It broke my heart because when I looked around at my life, my circumstance, my environment, my relationships, what I mostly found was pain and loss. It is easy to be grateful when things are amazingly good, but when you are at a low point, it is hard to find gratitude.
I may not have felt I had much to be grateful for, but I did have hope. I had hope and a willingness to try, to acknowledge the pain, acknowledge the loss, and still look for the good. I began opening my eyes to the tiny little pieces of my life that were things I was thankful for, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant. A magical thing started happening the more I focused on what I had to be grateful for…the good things started growing.
While the results felt magical, it all comes down to a basic science. It is action and reaction, cause and effect. Just like a garden, we can look at our lives and say this flower is one I love and I want to grow, and this weed that cause trouble needs to go. When we focus on the good, we can tend and nurture it. We also start to value it, protect it, and carefully remove things that are threatening its well-being.
I understand that you may experience a feeling of resistance to this idea. I know how it is to love something, appreciate it, and still lose it. Life has a theme of impermanence. Even our most tended to flowers, can die. However it is the art of practicing gratitude that can allow new beautiful things to grow.
Practicing gratitude allows us not to dwell on losses, but rather focus on creating a nature of resilience within oneself. We often to relate the negative or mundane aspects of life to being “real” and equate the good and great with being “fake”. Being grateful takes an understanding and belief that both negatives and positives may be impermanent and that both are equally real or fake. Once we understand this, we can come to a further understanding that our perceptions are a choice. We can choose to be miserable or we can choose to be grateful and happy and one is no more real or fake than the other. Why do we often choose to give pain a reality and not our joy?
For many of us, living in the dark has become comfortable and when we venture into the light, we aren’t quite sure about it. We don’t initially trust it and we run back to the small dark corners we had been longing to escape. If you find yourself struggling living a life of gratitude, because it isn’t what you are used to, it is ok. It doesn’t change the fact that what you truly want is out there, and will be yours. Venture on the side of thankfulness, and positivity, in small ways, a little each day, and eventually you will trust in it enough to turn your life over to the grateful side.
If you want your relationships to improve, your health and wellbeing to heal, your life to FEEL GOOD, start practicing gratitude, right now! Find one small thing that you can be grateful for and follow it, focus on it, and hold it in your heart above the pain above the loss. Watch what shifts! Get that gratitude. Let me know what happens!
Photo Credit: Photography By Erin B.
By: Kimberly Babin
Love yourself. What does it really mean?
We all know we are supposed to love ourselves if we want to become our best selves, but just like true love with another person, it is hard to know exactly what it feels like and what it means until you actually experience it.
There are often moments in true love relationships where someone does something so wonderful that it is an undeniable confirmation. They take an action that leaves us saying, “Wow, they really do love me!” or we have a though or take an action and think “Wow, I really must love them.” When you begin to start loving yourself, you will have the same kind of reactions.
Love has a lot to do with choices. When we love another or ourselves, our choices and actions are in alignment with that love and reflect that love. Maybe your choice was to give up a bad habit, or maybe you stuck with your work out, or you said no to something so you could spend time with yourself and read your favorite book. Maybe you have stopped making choices that hurt you like being around certain people, or working somewhere that made you miserable. Once you start loving yourself all of your choices will reflect it.
If you have lived not truly loving yourself, and shift into really caring about your needs, wants, opinions, and goals, you can see the difference between your past “bad” or loveless relationship and rejoice in what it feels like to be in a good one.
Loving yourself is very similar to being in a healthy, happy relationship with someone else.
You start to see the signs of love and feel it.
There is a peace and comfort, a knowing that they are there for you.
A knowing that you will feel at home in their presence.
A knowing that something about them makes your heart happy.
You feel compelled to take caring action.
You feel compelled to take action that expresses your love.
You have a sense of peace because when outside forces threaten to hurt you have someone to make you feel better, to protect your heart, to be your safe place.
There is a connection, you know their likes, what they need to feel loved, and you strive to give that to them.
When you make a mistake, you know they will be forgiving, lift you up, and help you learn from it and move on.
They will acknowledge all the good things about you.
They will challenge you to become a better person, and their love will help you to grow.
You might dress extra nice for them, take better care of yourself, give up a bad habit, try something new, all because that love has pushed you to be more of all of the good things you already are.
How many of us have this kind of relationship with ourselves?
2016 Fully Alive 101
BY KIMBERLY BABIN
This Summer is the perfect time to indulge in colorful fresh produce and enjoy the benefits. Fully Alive 101 has created this VIBRANT SUMMER SALAD for you to delight in.
What you'll need:
1 Avocado halved
2 tsp Flaxseed
1 Red Bell Pepper Sliced
1/4 Red Onion Chopped
3 Cups of Mixed Greens (We used Kale, Baby Spinach, Red & Green Chard.)
1/4 Cup Dried Cranberries
1/3 Cup Chopped Walnuts
Large Salad Bowl
Chop onion and red bell pepper. Cover and set aside. Cut avocado in half, remove pit, slice length wise with butter knife and set aside while still in skin. Mix green and top with onion, bell pepper, flax seed, cranberries, and Walnuts. Gently squeeze sides of avocado, pushing it out of skin while keeping slices in-tacked. You may need to use a spatula to slide it out of peel. (For a fuller meal option and tofu or chicken slices.). Indulge!