With a brand new year just around the corner we look back at the year behind us and often come up with resolutions that are aimed at making the coming year the best one yet! And even though the power of intention is not to be underestimated, 80% of our resolutions are not manifested. This can make giving up on resolutions altogether seem tempting. Or, maybe not? In this blog we will dive a little deeper into the art of intention setting and what it takes to not become part of the that 80% but create magic instead!
1. Connect to your Dharma
Dharma is often translated as your ‘task’ or ‘the path’ you have to walk in this lifetime. A larger understanding of dharma however includes more than the dharma of the individual. The entire universe and all that lives in it, have a dharma. So we share a collective dharma and we all have our unique dharma that supports the collective. It is through living our dharma that we are all connected, find meaning, and learn to act based on the desires of the soul rather than the ego.
To connect to your Dharma a helpful practice is to take a step back from the daily, ongoing events of your life. Set aside one or two hours of your time.
* Start with a meditation of about 15-30 minutes, or however long it takes you to allow the mind to calm down and to tune into the breath and the sensations in your body.
* Imagine you are looking at your life and slowly start to zoom out, until you can see you entire life from the moment you were born until you pass away. Looking back at your life, what were the most important events in your life, what actions had the most purpose, what will you be remembered for? Allow any sensation, emotion or vision to come to the surface, take pen and paper and start to write down what you observe. Try not to judge, correct or form an opinion. Just allow yourself to write down what comes to mind.
*Read back what you wrote and select those events that had the most significance. What stands out? Were you being loving, courageous, caring, adventurous, nurturing children, taking care of animals, inventing new technologies? Formulate your dharma as a sentence in the present tense, for example:
I am nurturing and supporting others in their growth
I take a stance for truth and justice
I am intelligent and innovative in support of the greater good
2. Create your Sankalpa
Your dharma is your intention for your entire life. Your sankalpa is connected to your dharma, but is an intention often for a certain period in your life that is in support of your dharma. It is sankalpa that we refer to when we set an intention or make a resolution, which right away indicates the difference between a resolution and a wish. We all have lots of wishes that come and go and are often connected to our ego. A desire connected to your dharma on the other hand is strong, steady and has a sense of urgency.
When creating your sankalpa it is therefore important to get clear on the roots of your desire. An intention to get in shape, based on the social pressure to match a certain ideal is much less likely to succeed than the resolution to get in shape so you can be the fit and active parent for your children that you desire to be. In both cases getting fit is the wish, but the desire that is connected to your dharma is the one that will motivate you to stick to your resolution longer than one week.
To distinguish between your wishes and your sankalpa, meditation is one of the best practices. Silencing the mind, taking a break from all the input that stimulates your senses and directs your desires all day, will allow you to return to the desire that comes from inside you. When you have a sankalpa in mind, sit with it for a while and allow yourself to feel the effect it has on your body and mind. Allow yourself to step away from the usual formulations of intentions like I want to loose weight, stop smoking, or work less. Instead formulate your Sankalpa in a way that it connects with your soul: ‘I allow myself to make choices that are loving towards myself and my body’.
3.Identify your Vikalpa
When we set our intention, we often forget to look at possible obstacles that might be standing in between us, and that what we desire. The reality is, there is always resistance, otherwise you would have already fulfilled your desire. The resistance can be internal, or external and in the Vedic text they are called your vikalpa.
Your sankalpa can be to live a life that allows you to travel the world, working as a freelancer from your laptop. But growing up you watched your parents struggle financially and worry about how to pay the bills. Unconsciously there is a strong fear in you to let go of the financial security of your office job. Your vikalpa to avoid financial insecurity at all costs, can stand in between you and your sakalpa.
Since our vikalpas are often unconscious, it is valuable to take the time to explore them before you set out to chase your dreams. Meditating on your sankalpa allow yourself to explore the actions, attitudes and qualities needed to fulfill it. Observe the physical sensations and thought patterns that come to the surface when you do so and try to formulate your vikalpa.
4. Get into action
An intention without action is wishful thinking. Regardless the power of positive thinking it is the action and energy that you are willing to invest into nurturing and growing your intention that makes all the difference. It is also in taking action that you get a chance to confront your vikalpa and allow yourself to consciously make new choices that lead to new results.
When you notice yourself avoiding action, there is most likely a vikalpa at work that needs your attention and exploration.
5. Invite Grace
Realizing your intention is not just in your hands. Yes, you need to take all the previous steps to create the conditions for your desire to manifest. But we don’t control all variables or the mystery that is life. It is by the grace of a higher power or a higher intelligence that plants grow and blossom and the Seasons change. In the same manner it is by this grace that your intention manifest in it’s full potential. So while you have giving it all the energy, care and action you can, you invite grace to support in the manifestation of your sankalpa.
If you like to dive deeper into the art of fulfilling your desires, ‘The Four Desires’ by Rod Stryker is a beautiful book full of insights and exercises that I highly recommend.
Happy New Year!