We all know why New Year’s resolutions are a bummer. We say we’re going to go to the gym every 4 days a week. We will journal every night before going to sleep. Or meditate every morning for 12 months. But how often have any of us actually followed through with these goals? Most of us give up on ourselves after we miss one day or one week. “I failed, so what’s the point of continuing? If I start over now, it doesn’t really count.” All or nothing thinking wins again! We crawl away with our tail between our legs. Maybe we will try again next year. *Sigh*
While hard-line goals can be meaningful and motivating in some ways, most of us just don’t function that way (unless you’re an Enneagram Three!) But even Threes could benefit from approaching the New Year through a different lens, and relaxing their obsession with checklists. For the last several years, I have focused on an intention instead of a goal or definitive resolution. Yes, there is a benefit in non-measurable outcomes.
In the yogic tradition, they talk about setting a “Sankalpa,” or sacred intention. I love this, because it has energy behind it, and yet it releases the white-knuckled grip of control. It’s no longer completely up to me to either succeed or fail, or to even know what is best for me. With a Sacred Intention, there is room to invite in the Source of Love, that Great Mystery animating all of life, to come into my life and dance with me. The Divine Beloved carries my Sankalpa just as much, or more, than I do. This sets me up for “success” and leaves space to go with the flow and find beautiful surprises along the way. It is the subtle shift away from calculated growth and towards unpredictable evolution.
Choosing one word to focus on (or a very short phrase) for a Sankalpa is best. Then it is easy to remember, and can become an anchor you return to throughout your days, weeks, and months ahead. It is fascinating to see how this one word changes meaning over time, when attention is given to it. For the last three years, I have been journeying with the word “Trust.” Each year, it just kept coming back to me, saying “I’m not done with you yet. One more year.”
This last year has been calling me to return again and again to Presence. In a sense, this is the Sankalpa suited for all of us, because it is Presence that unlocks the door to whatever it is we are searching for. All our inherent Virtues, lying dormant behind our fear, anger, and shame, have the possibility of coming alive when we are fully present in body, heart, and mind. If we desire to be more loving to ourselves and others, Presence is the key. If what we want is more courage to be our true selves, Presence will show us the way. If we are tired of distracting and numbing ourselves, Presence brings energy and clear vision to counter our self-forgetting.
So to be Present is my Sacred Intention this year. To come back to the Living Moment again and again, because that’s where true happiness lies. That’s where my deeper heart can wake up from its long hibernation, and where my chattering mind can find a profound Quietness. Presence signals my body to relax, to release unnecessary tension, and open intuitive channels to Inner Guidance.
Ahhh, Beloved Presence! If only I were not such an unfaithful lover! I keep leaving you for the next exciting distraction. I cheat on you with my worries, my obsessive planning, my fantasies, my ruminations. None of these ever brings me the fulfillment I desire. Only you can satisfy my soul! Thankfully, you are patient and forgiving, always waiting for me just under the surface, welcoming me back with a spacious and unlimited embrace. Within you, Dear Presence, I find the true gift of Grace. Thank you. Please keep calling me Home.
Ways to work with your Sankalpa:
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I'm a Spiritual Director, Enneagram Educator, and Liberationist-Buddhist-Universalist-Mystic-12 step-Queer-Christian. Playing with questions, answers, and surrender.