From the Cushion

Samkalpa – Trust and Do More Yoga

You may have heard me mention Samkalpa in class before.  We use it during yoga nidra practice and on other occasions too in order to help set a positive direction for class or in life.  Samkalpa means resolution or intention, and truly, it is your own heartfelt desire.

Generally speaking it is a short statement in positive language in the present tense.  One makes a statement regarding his or her desire as though it is already happening, already taking place.  Then, she feels into the statement as though she is already living it.  In many ways, when we do this, we already are living at least the seeds of making that desire come to life.  It may not have fully manifested yet, but if it is a deep, heartfelt desire, the seeds of positive change have already been planted.

At the new year, I like to set a one-word intention.  It is a little more open to interpretation, and it becomes a great guide as to how to conduct myself and my choices throughout the year.  I got this idea from friend and colleague Kathy Donnelly, owner of Yoga Center of Columbia, and partner in our upcoming 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training.  For years now, she has been making this suggestion and I love the idea.  When I began this practice, my samkalpa that year was ease.  And so, for any decision I made, I would start by asking myself, “does this promote more ease in my life?”  That happened to be a very challenging year personally and so this one word samkalpa was really a godsend as far as keeping me sane.

This year, I’m choosing Trust.  Trust in the universe and trust in myself.  Seems to me there is some crazy sh*t going on out there in the world and it is easy to be overwhelmed and angry about all the greed, corruption, and ignorance.  When I feel overwhelmed, I return to my practices, daily meditation and yoga asana.  These practices ground me, bring me back to myself, and help me to recognize that the first place that real change occurs is inside myself.  These practices help me to trust that my decisions are the right ones for me in the moment and I try to make them based on uplifting others around me too.  For example, if I say something in a reactionary manner, perhaps that helps me feel better, but how does that affect the other person?  The practices help to give me pause when I’m in situations that could go either way, towards the positive and helpful or towards the detrimental.  The pause is the instantaneous moment in which I can mindfully choose to do something uplifting rather than defeating.

When I see crazy weather patterns, I trust that Mother Earth is doing what she needs to in order to restore balance in the world.  That is similar to trusting that the universe is doing exactly what it is supposed to in each moment, but I am not a fatalist.  My teacher Douglas Brooks talks about mantra and malini.  Mantra is a word or phrase, a sound vibration really, that you can count on.  When you utter it, verbally or internally, it produces a certain effect, whether it is words that we understand or just vibration that evokes feeling, it is the thing that generally doesn’t change, therefore we can count on it.  If you do a thing, then a thing will result, consistently.  Malini on the other hand is complete randomness.  If you do a thing, then any result could happen.  Malini is the thing that adds interest, excitement, even playfulness.  However, it can also lead to the unexpected or ugly so it becomes the scary factor if you do not have trust that you can meet the challenge when it arises.

Where mantra offers comfort, support, regularity, malini brings possibility, excitement, newness.  Both are a part of human existence and human experience.  It depends on our own perceptions as to whether one or the other is ‘better’ in any given situation.  It depends on our own skill as far as how we respond to either type of situation.

Doing yoga practices gives us the skill and helps us to build trust within ourselves.  So, you know what I’m going to say here: Do More Yoga.  Who knows what 2018 will bring really, but I choose to trust that I will have the proper answer at the right time for the given situation.

 

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