Satsang with Swami Niranjanananda
What is sankalpa? Many people say it is a positive affirmation, a positive thought, but sankalpa is a process of training the mind to develop the will and to develop clarity of thought. Through sankalpa we learn how to train the mind so that the will becomes alive. We lack willpower because we are undisciplined inside. Most of us during our lifetime have wondered what we should or shouldn’t do. Often we are frustrated because we are unable to extract ourselves from a situation dominating our mental behaviour. It is possible to wake up maybe for a week or a month at four o’clock in the morning, but be unable to continue doing that for the whole lifetime. You can do it for a week because the motivation is there, but when the drive is gone, then you say, “Five minutes more, ten minutes more. Today I would like to rest, it’s not necessary to wake up.” When the initial drive finishes, one is left with lethargy.
If we have a sankalpa which maintains the motivation and drive, then lethargy will not set in. But the sankalpa has to develop the willpower. Just a positive affirmation will not do anything. We all think we should become this or become that. We need to get rid of a particular habit, nature or obsession. We can understand that rationally, but we cannot apply it due to lack of motivation. Sankalpa fills this vacuum in our life.
It is not necessary to have a very big sankalpa. Start with something small. For example, when I was young I used to sleep so deeply that the swamis could pick up my bed and take it to another corner of the ashram, without my waking up. When I was small it didn’t matter, but later on it became a problem. So I told myself that every morning I’d wake up at four, and I did that for one day. The second day it was five, the third day six, the fourth day seven. So I tried to discover my natural pattern. If I went to sleep at nine o’clock, what time would I wake up normally without an alarm clock? I found that it was around six a.m., after nine hours sleep. Then I set the alarm for five to six for one week, at ten to six the next week, at a quarter to six the third week and at twenty to six the fourth week. By decreasing five minutes each week, my mind became used to the training, and when it came to four o’clock, it had become a habit. This is the training of sankalpa.
Sankalpa is not only a thought, it is a power, a force. Whatever you think is projected into the environment. Just as there are radio waves and other invisible waves and frequencies in the environment which can be captured with the right instruments, in the same manner thoughts and desires also have a frequency. Negativity and positivity, pessimism and optimism, have a frequency. What you express leaves an impression on the channel in the mind and waves are transmitted. If there is an intensity behind a thought, behind a sankalpa, behind a resolution, then the channel selector, the imprint on the mind, will be stronger and you will be able to access that channel more frequently and easily. It is like the pre-set channel.
Sankalpa is not just a wish, it is a conviction. It is faith in oneself, faith that one can do it. The sankalpa cannot be “I wish it was like that” or “I wish to become that”. That is wishful thinking. Sankalpa is the conviction that “I will become that”. Sankalpa is trust and faith in oneself, in one’s own strength and courage. “I have that, therefore, I can become that.”
Sankalpa is not only thinking you will become that, but also striving to become that. If there has to be a positive sankalpa in people’s lives, to uplift their spirits and minds, the best sankalpa is to feel love and to see oneself in other people. That is the sankalpa that Swami Satyananda has shown us in the lifestyle that he is leading now. He says that if we can all see ourselves in others, if we can all share the beauty of real love with others, not sensual love, then the world can become a bright place. That should be the final sankalpa of our life.
To come to this state begin with something very basic: changing the habits, changing the limitations that inhibit your growth. Try to understand yourself, observe yourself, find the blocks, and overcome one thing at a time. Don’t have an abstract idea or an unattainable concept without prior training. Children want to grow up quickly. When they go to school, they want to complete school quickly. But the important factor is performing well in the class you are in, not worrying about when you are going to grow up and get your degree or diploma. If you can perform well in the class you are in, you will pass and move on to the next class.
Focus on the present. Ignore the insecurities of the future. If something is going to happen in the future, why are you worried now? Perfect your present. The problem is that we are so tense that our past is tense, our present is tense and our future is tense. But yoga teaches us that the present has to be perfect.
When you made your sankalpa, you were surrounded by your own feelings and the expressions of your own inner spirit. Nobody prodded or guided you to take that sankalpa. Try to be true to that sankalpa. Sankalpa is not making a wish every New Year’s Day. It is taking a step forward and once you take a step forward, stepping back has no meaning. So sankalpa is a step, not a thought, and when you take that step to fulfil the sankalpa, to fine-tune your life, remember that the more positive, optimistic and sattwic you are, the more strength you will gain and the further you will go. – Love and Sankalpa
Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati