January Newsletter: Happy 2019! Releasing Samskaras & Reaffirming Sankalpas
Greetings & Namaste!
Happy 2019 to you! With the ringing in of a new year, many of us may be planning to shed some old habits and embark on a new journey, whether that be travel, self-care, fitness, education, work or family.
And while the new year is a great way to capitalize on a fresh start , often we may find our progress fleeting as the months move on, and the resolute vigor we had to grow at the beginning of the year turns back into more of the same chronic behaviors we initially set out to change. Why does this happen, and how can we be intellegent and aware of how to best cultivate the small seed of our highest intention in what seems to be uncharted territory of our own minds?
In the Vedic philosophies, old habits that we may have a hard time shaking are rooted in our karma that comes back with us from previous lives. These chronic karmas we accumulate from past lives originate in current life thoughts & actions, and how much awareness and control we have over these thoughts & activities. The subtle mental currents of likes & dislikes, or desires & aversions, are called "Vasanas," while the subtle mental impressions & behavioral patterning/ tendencies/ habits we create or reinforce when we react according to vasanas are are knows as "Samskaras." Together, vasanas & samskaras can further chain us to our chronic karma, cloud our ability to perceive, and lead us down the path of "Avidya" or illusion.
According to Swami Satyananda Saraswati in his book Yoga Nidra, "...samskaras condition our thoughts and experiences, and compel us to act in certain ways.They are often the root cause of tension, mental disturbances and disease."
Through developing awareness of our own samskaras & vasanas, we can start to free ourselve from the mental & wordly illusions supported by fear, ego, averision, attachement and misperceptions, and start to perceive a little more clearly how to create deep, lasting positive change. When we practice yoga with purposeful intention we can start to end the cycle of habitual behaviors and thought patterns, and start to burn up the old karmas that are preventing us from living in our Highest Truth.
So, how do we start to become aware of all these subtle mental influences, and how to we make intellegent choices to start changing these thought patterns and freeing ourselves from our own mental illusions? One of the best tools to add to your yogi toolbag is called a "Sankalpa." This Sanskrit term means "resolve" or "resolution," and, according to Swamin Satyananda, "takes the form of a short mental statement which is impressed on the subconscious mind when it is receptive."
Sankalpa is a determination to become something or to do something in your life... Sankalpa is a seed which you create and then sow in the bed of your mind... if you prepare the mind and sow the seed properly, then it will grow in your life and become a powerful directive.
--Swami Satyananda Saraswati
The Sankalpa is the seed of pure intention sourced from our highest Truth. When we create a sankalpa, we give it time to grow and manifest its presence in our lives. Nourishing the Sankalpa determines its lasting permanance and effects on your life; regular, daily activities such as journaling, meditation, yoga nidra and consitant hatha yoga practice are poweful ways to cultivate the growth and fruiting of your sankalpa. Through observing the sankalpa, we start to create new mental impressions established in Truth, and dissolve the samskaras that are clouding our ability to live in our highest lives.
In addition, we can also observe powerful times in nature to connect to the divine and celestial energies of the cosmos to strenghten our ability to create and cultivate a sankalpa. Aligning with Nature helps us maintain balance through times of change, and ground when we require greater stability. A good time to tap into Nature's cosmic intellegence for the purpose of Sankalpa is during the period of the new moon.
The new moon is the dark culmination of the waning moon and the beginning of its wax to fullness. By taping into this particular lunar phase, we can cultivate positive energy and momentum from the nourishing development of the moon's cool glow to illuminate the mind and nurture the growth of our sankapla to manifest its presence into our lives.
Japa Mantra is a popular form of Bhakti yoga that can furture develop your mental awareness through chanting. The word "mantra" is made up of two words: "manas" meaning mind and "tra" meaning transportation or vehicle, so mantra translates to "vehicle for the mind," and is used to maintain dedication & devotion, and to hone the mind's focus. One mantra I have been working with lately to help me grow my seed of intention is OM MANI PADME HUM meaning "the jewel of the lotus is within me."
Feel ready and inspired to create your Sankalpa? Start your 2019 with a seed of intention to manifest its growth throughout your life! Join me for this monthly practice at Liberation Yoga.
Be sure to bring a notepad and pen for journaling and discussion as we explore intention setting and manifesting!
If you missed my Ayurvedic Yoga workshop at Small World Yoga, I have another Ayurvedic Yoga workshop coming up at the end of March exploring the use of aromatherapy through essential oils! This is gonna be a good one :-) Stay tuned for more details! In the meantime, here's a photo of all us yogis demonstrating a specific posture that is good for balancing their unique prakriti <3