The Sankalpa or resolve in yoga nidra is a short positive statement that you make for yourself. It requires you to contemplate the most important goal in your life. According to Sw Niranjan “it is a process of training the mind to develop the will and to develop clarity of thought”. The Sankalpa then works to sustain motivation and drive as you work toward your goal.
It is not just a wish such as “I wish to become that” but a conviction that “I will become that”. In that way Sankalpa is not just a thought but a power or force.
By repeating it three times at the beginning of yoga nidra (when the body and mind are relaxed) and toward the end this force is implanted into the subconscious mind. When you make your Sankalpa at this stage you are surrounded by your own feelings and expressions of your inner spirit.
Sw Niranjan says that
“Your Sankalpa is not only thinking you are that, but striving to become that. It is taking a step forward and once you take a step forward, stepping back has no meaning.”
You do not need to have a very big Sankalpa…you can start with something small but the more positive and optimistic you are then the more strength you gain and the further you will go.
Yoga Nidra is a practice developed by Swami Satyananda to enable one to experience deep relaxation. It is a practice where the body rests completely but the awareness remains awake as you listen to instructions. The practice is based on an ancient practice know as Nyasa where a “mantra” was placed on each part of the body as part of a systematic rotation of consciousness in the body.
In its present form Yoga Nidra offers the opportunity to completely let go of tension in the physical body which leads to a relaxation of mental tensions. Your teacher will guide you through the practice as you draw your awareness inward (the practice of pratyahara), rotate your awareness around each part of your body, explore your breath and breathing patterns and then gently return your awareness to the outside world.
These 4 parts form the basic stages of Yoga Nidra. As you develop your understanding of the practice other stages are introduced to help deepen the experience of relaxation and to enable you to introduce your own resolve or Sankalpa (more on this next week).
People have many different ideas about meditation but most agree that there are significant physical and psychological benefits of meditation.
At a recent discussion with some of my yoga students we talked about the ways in which we experience meditation. For some it was the ability to focus the awareness on the stillness of body and the movement of breath in the body. For others it was a great sense of peace and calmness that came with simply doing nothing or being engrossed in nature.
However all those present said that there was a distinct element of being the witness. In yogic terms this is known as being the “Drashta“..the one who watches. For watching the thoughts come and go in their continuous stream helps you to become detached. Of course this is not so easy..as we often get caught up in the thoughts and find ourselves reacting to the thoughts. When this occurs it is important to simply be aware that this is what has happened and resume your observation of breath, heartbeat, stillness etc.
Swami Sannyasananda Saraswati from Australia has an interesting article published in the Yoga magazine http://www.yogamag.net/archives/2006/bfeb06/what.shtml where he discusses the stages of meditation.
I feel that meditation techniques can be taught but meditation itself is a practice to be experienced and takes time to develop. What are your thoughts? Experiences?