“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” -Buddha
“I am enough. I have enough. I do enough.” These powerful words were shared during a group discussion in the Yoga Tune Up® Certification Training.
In that moment my body softened and I felt wholeheartedly in my center.
That moment was sweeter than the best piece of dark chocolate I have ever tasted. I couldn’t write the words down fast enough and I was excited to take them back to my yoga community.
Sankalpa, as defined by Jill Miller, is “A chosen internal resolution or intention that helps to positively reshape and influence one’s direction and purpose.”
Words are not just tools for communication. Words have the power to uplift, unite, bless and transform, as you will see in the examples in this post. They can change your mindset.
I recently closed one of my yoga classes with the powerful Sankalpa, “I am enough. I have enough. I do enough.” It then went on to make positive ripples into my community far beyond my expectations.
The Transformative Effect of a Powerful Sankalpa
A week or so after introducing this Sankalpa to my class, a long-time student of yoga named Alice disclosed the following:
“After hearing those words from you, I shared them with a friend from church over lunch. We had a long discussion about which statement fit each of us the most.
“We agreed that we both ‘had’ enough. I felt that I needed to constantly tell myself that I ‘do’ enough, especially since I just retired from full time work. My friend told me the story of being adopted and the parenting issues she had dealing with her own children. She found that I ‘am’ enough should be her mantra.
“A few days later, I was at church and the pastor used the phrase, ‘I am enough, I do enough, I have enough’ in the sermon. My friend had talked with the Pastor and shared it with her too.”
It was wonderful to know that these powerful words had spread far beyond the walls of my yoga classroom.
Why You Should Practice Changing Your Mind
As Jill Miller eloquently states, “Our actions, behaviors and decisions are the sum of our conscious and unconscious thoughts. With Sankalpa, we become more aware, while evolving the ways we relate to self and others.”
Personally, I admit that my negative inner dialogue trumps the praise I receive from others. I have even tried to fool myself thinking that “being hard on myself” will somehow make me stronger, more resilient, and less reactive to criticism from another.
Awareness of this limiting habit and how my inner dialogue “feels” in my body continue to be important steps in my healing.
The words that I choose and the stories that I tell myself do matter.
Practicing self-acceptance and compassion needn’t just be limited to things you do for yourself, but must also include thoughts, emotions, and overall mindset.
Your Sankalpa practice is like the gentle nudge, or the words of encouragement from your favorite teacher that you gift to yourself throughout your day.
Here is a poignant example of the power of Sankalpa from Tune Up trainer Dinneen Viggiano:
“My body heals itself”
Although I hold several sankalpas for different areas of my life. I come back to one or two with great frequency. “My body heals itself” is not only my Sankalpa, it’s a guiding principle for me and my family.
When my debilitating back pain was at its worst, I was deeply unsatisfied with the divergent passive therapeutic recommendations from the many doctors and professional therapists I was seeing.
“My body heals itself” taught me to step back, to listen and to think outside the diagnosis I had been assigned; this enabled me to zero in on what was really causing my discomfort which motivated me to find the right therapist and begin healing.
Fast forward ten years: Last year my son was diagnosed with a bone issue for which seven different NYC orthopedic doctors recommended various types of aggressive surgeries. We came back to “My body heals itself,” knowing that surgery would still be an option later on. I threw every nutritional and therapeutic skill I had at this issue and in eight months his body had indeed healed itself, without surgery.
“I have space to breathe and all the time I need“
My personal Sankalpa has saved me through incredibly stressful times as I was opening a new business at age 47 while also completing my level 1 Yoga Tune Up® training at Kripalu.
It’s been there with me when it was time to sell our family business after losing my father in a plane crash. It’s been in my “mind’s back pocket” when I needed a reminder to allow time for my own self-care as well as quality time with my family and friends.
It’s like my own love note to myself to slow down because: “I have space to breathe and all the time I need.”
“I am guided on my path and have faith in my journey.”
For 32 years, I was a professor of English who took exercise seriously, but only for one hour a day. I simply thought of movement as one important self-care ritual that could keep me on track with my career. But at age 50, I had strong insight that something needed to change.
The pain in my shoulders/face/back/neck was shouting: You have a problem and what you are doing is not solving the problem.
I started with yoga and that helped, but really, I had just applied a different exercise bandage to my body and left my mind to its own devices, which was indeed unfortunate. Why? Because the body can’t heal when the mind is a mess. And my mind was a mess: I carried stress with me all day, I couldn’t sleep, I took ibuprofen for pain, I kept pushing myself and added more and more to my “to do” list.
When I arrived at my Yoga Tune Up® teacher training I realized that what I needed was much more than another tool. For the first time, I began to think of myself in a relationship with my body and not in fix-it mentality. I followed along as Jill Miller led us through a process to develop my Sankalpa and arrived at the message: “I am guided on my path and have faith in my journey.”
“I practice with empathy and self-compassion”
My Sankalpa applies to life, working out and teaching.
It reminds me to be kind to myself, as there have been many times I am not.
Times I feel weak, feel fat, feel ugly, feel not worthy, I choose to say “this does not define me, I am enough regardless.” My present Sankalpa is “I practice with empathy and self-compassion.”
- It comes from within, addressing something about yourself that you’d like to strengthen, maintain or change.
- Inquire into your typical thoughts to find a belief you carry that leads to negative outcomes or results in your practice or life.
- Write that belief down so you can see exactly what it is.
- Now create an empowering message that counteracts or diminishes the power of that negative belief.
- Mentally, plant your Sankalpa like a seed. Use it during your yoga/meditation practice, write it on a Post-It® note, repeat it before going to sleep. Repeat it often.
- Speak the words out loud whenever possible. Notice how the words make you feel.
- Do not expect changes overnight. Practice awareness and notice how it feels when you remember.
- Be patient, stick with your Sankalpa until it brings results, then when you feel it has been firmly rooted and transformed that aspect of you, plant a new one.
If you have found the practice of Sankalpa to be powerful in changing your mindset, I would love to hear from you!
Tell me in the comments below, what negative belief do you carry that’s holding you back? What might your new Sankalpa be, to change your own mind, and thereby change you life…?You never know how your practice of changing your mind will help another.
This article is part of a larger discussion on Mental Health and Emotional Resiliency.
During the month of August we are sharing educational articles and interviews to help navigate the challenges and struggles brought forth from living amidst a pandemic. Our intention for sharing this curated list is so that you may learn new skills (or revisit old ones) to take care of your nervous system and incorporate breath, movement and mindset practices to increase emotional resiliency. We invite you to take what works, and allow the rest to fall away.
If you liked this article, we’ve curated a list of practical how-to’s, interviews, and more on mental health and emotional resiliency:
- How to Raise Self Awareness by Meredith Amann
“The unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates. Many people agree awareness, like mindfulness, is a skill, but could it be our hidden super power?
- Learning to Say NO as an Act of Self Care by Kate Hamm
Just like yoga, saying No is a practice unto itself.
- Compassionate Insight: Shifting How We Define Resilience by Emily Pantolone
Interested in building emotional resiliency? Self-compassion may be the entry point to expanding your perspective.
- How to Approach and Support Mental Health When You Aren’t A Therapist by Ariel Kiley
Dr. Christopher Walling discusses mental health and the scope of practice for fitness, yoga and wellness teachers.
- Why does it hurt? Demystifying pain. by Dinneen Viggiano
Do-at-home, no-equipment-needed, non-invasive therapeutic skills are indispensable for effectively managing stress, anxiety, exercise burnout, pain and more. Dinneen shares three self-care skills and accompanying practices to help you understand and transform your experience of pain.
Related Article: 3 Practices to Prepare for Big Life Change
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