How does the guided relaxation technique strengthen your resolve?
Setting a resolve (sankalpa) at the beginning of the new year is one of the strongest ways to get closer to the real you. But how do you strengthen the mind to make sure you stick to your resolve? Our monkey minds love to wander and finding that stability and strength to stay on course is often challenging. That’s where yogic practices come in. Let’s take Guided relaxation (yoga nidra), for example.
What is guided relaxation or yoga nidra?
A guided relaxation technique, yoga nidra, literally meaning yogic sleep. It is a practice that brings about a state of consciousness between wakefulness and sleep. We all experience this in between state when we are about to fall asleep or just before completely waking up. For most of us it’s so brief that we don’t identify it as a separate state of consciousness. This can also be looked at as a transiting state of mind moving between wakefulness and sleep.
Swami Satyananda came up with the 8 stage yoga nidra that has both, stages to induce the state of yoga nidra and also stages to reap the benefits of Yoga nidra, by applying it to various needs. Strengthening Sankalpa is one such application stage in yoga nidra.
Sankalpa is practiced twice in any session of Yoga nidra. Once at the beginning of the practice where the mind is still pretty awake - called conscious Sankalpa and another time after the visualization stage, when the mind is in a subconscious state - called the subconscious Sankalpa.
What is resolve (sankalpa)?
Let’s understand Sankalpa first. Sankalpa means Resolve or Determination. We have goals (Dhyeya) that we often set at the beginning of a new year. And we need the determination (Sankalpa) to go about achieving this goal. Especially bigger life goals which require a lifetime of constant determination amidst the mind being distracted and attracted to every new idea (monkey minds, after all!).
Sometimes Sankalpa is also used to define a Goal itself. In yoga nidra sankalpa can mean both. A goal and the determination to achieve the goal. Having a clear goal is half the battle. The universal life goal as in the Vedic traditions is “Moksa”, permanent liberation from all sufferings of a worldly material life.
Vedic Purushartha -object of human pursuit concept also makes provision to have worldly goals, Dharma-Artha-Kama. It’s these goals that most of us work towards in the modern world. Goals like health, prosperity, personality, community, ecology etc.
How do we achieve goals?
Now comes the point of seeing these goals through. A seeker now has to work on having enough determination to achieve those goals. Sankalpa is practiced in various Vedic, traditional practices like Nitya pooja, Havana, Yoga sadhana etc.
However, a sankalpa in Yoga Nidra is different from all these as it is made in both, a conscious and a subconscious state. Such subconscious sankalpa are the ones that become stable and peculate deep into our psyche. Remembering the sankalpa during wakeful state helps us to stay focused and grounded with a deeper sense of direction and purpose.
What are the 5 important features that any Goal should have when used in Yoga nidra?
1. Short and to the point: Since the goal is to be recollected and mentally chanted, it should be a short phrase or sentence.
2. The language: The language should be one in which the practitioner thinks and has mental discourses in. The meaning of all the words used should be very clearly understood without ambiguity.
3. Positivity: A Positive outlook & tone is better than a negative one. Rather than saying, 'I am going to give up….’, one could word it as , 'I am developing..' or 'I am expressing ..’.
4. Present continuous tense: Have a perspective where the work towards the goal has commenced. Because it has already started to happen the moment we make up our Goal. The first step of making anything happen is already in place. This isn’t a way to trick the mind but it's about having a larger perspective of the goal and determination required to manifest it.
5. Visual: If a visual of the goal can be developed, it should be done. That helps make the Sankalpa so much stronger. One glance of an image can be equivalent to lengthy descriptions in words. Other senses such as hearing, touch, smell and taste are always welcome to make the Sankalpa rock solid.
Your goals can be anything you wish to achieve. It could be waking up for yoga every morning, switching to decaf coffee or tea, losing weight, etc. Here are a few examples of some generic Goals that you can use
1. I am on the path of achieving & sustaining optimal health.
2. I am becoming the best I can be in my career.
3. I am building harmonious relationships at work.
4. I am becoming more accepting of my partner.
5. I am becoming fitter.
The beginning of every year brings new possibilities, hope and a renewal of energy. It’s the best time to revisit your goals and make them stronger through simple practices. It’s as simple as setting the intention, acting on it and watching it manifest in front of your eyes.
You can also join Shvasa’s meditation sessions where we will be practicing Sankalpa in every session.