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A sankalpa is the formulation of an intention or a resolution. If you can firmly anchor this intention within you, all your resources, conscious and unconscious, will converge so that your whole being works in one direction. Your sankalpa will then shape your life and become a reality. A sankalpa done right can change your life. Read on to learn precisely how to go about doing so.

What is a sankalpa?

A host of attitudes, notions and ideas mould what we think we need to do in life and what we believe we can do. These ideas are so profoundly rooted that they are almost unconscious. We take for granted that they are justified, and most of the time, we let them control us without question. Sometimes these notions go in opposing directions and hold us bound by indecision. Sometimes they clutter our view with doubt and guilt.

But you can redefine the playing field with a sankalpa. A sankalpa is straightforward. It is a phrase that you repeat mentally to yourself. By repeating it enough times, that idea becomes so strong that it starts to colour your deepest beliefs. Gradually other ideas give way and what you thought before was impossible suddenly looks accessible and natural. 

You do not even have to believe in your sankalpa when you start. Little by little, it will convince you. When you have embraced it fully, a tremendous power starts to move. The moment you decide that there is no way back, there is a shift. No challenges are insurmountable any longer. With your intention firmly anchored in the depth of your mind, your subconscious resources will be working towards its realisation. 

How to choose a sankalpa

If you want your resolution to work, and I am sure you do, you had better choose only one. The reason is apparent. You don’t want to spread your energies in different directions. It is when we focus that our power is efficient.

But how to decide on what to choose? You are free to choose any sankalpa you like. However, my advice is to look deep into your heart. Think about what you want to do with your life. What is your purpose? What would give your life the most meaning? Formulate an intention that will carry you in that direction. Go for your primary life goal, and small obstacles will take care of themselves.

At the same time, your sankalpa needs to be precise and tangible. Make it specific enough so that you can more easily verify if it is happening or not. An abstract intention will be vague and may never have an impact.

Are you facing a challenge that stands in your way of living your life fully? Then you can use your sankalpa to deal with it first and then look at the bigger picture.

How to formulate your intention

The easiest way to use your sankalpa is by repeating it mentally. So once you know where you want it to take you, you should formulate it in words. Make it a sentence long so that it is easy to memorise and repeat. Give it a positive wording so that it feels natural to you.

However, there is another way to use your sankalpa; it can also be in the form of a visualisation. You can see your sankalpa realising itself before your eyes like a film, or you can create and visualise a symbol that embodies its qualities and meaning. You could even use all of these ways to make your intention penetrate your subconscious mind. 

When to take your sankalpa

The rational mind is a marvellous tool. But when analytical and critical thinking is allowed to dominate, it holds us in unfruitful attitudes. You can quickly reject beneficial thoughts as unrealistic. That is why you introduce your resolution at times when you can bypass the questioning mind.

The ideal moment for sankalpa is during yoga nidra. In the beginning and at the end of yoga nidra, the mind is open to suggestions. When you are in this state of deep relaxation, you can sow your intention in fertile soil. At that time, pronounce it mentally several times. 

Yoga adepts practising yoga nidra.

Other good moments for sankalpa are right before falling asleep or when waking up. Then you are in the so-called hypnagogic state. In many traditions, magical seeds are sewn during intercourse at the moment of peak intensity. This is also an auspicious moment for your sankalpa if it is a visualisation. Yet another moment is during rituals such as a havan or a puja.

How to make your sankalpa work

To make your sankalpa work, keep the following guidelines below in mind. 

-Keep it secret

Your sankalpa should be a well-kept secret. Do not tell anyone what your sankalpa is, not even your yoga teacher or a life partner. Keep your sankalpa away from the judgments of others. 

-Have only one resolution

For all of your energies to work together, have only one sankalpa. Otherwise, you will dilute your power, and none of your intentions will take off. 

-Repeat it often

It is only through repetition that your intention can infuse your subconscious. 

-Repeat it when your mind is receptive

For your sankalpa to work, you want to take it when your critical mind doesn’t reject it. 

-Keep it for a long time 

Don’t think that your sankalpa will change your life overnight. Give it months or even years to start making an impact.

-Don’t just wait for it to happen

If you want to change your life, a firm resolution is a foundation. But it isn’t enough: you also need initiative. It is when you start taking action yourself that the reel magic starts. Your sankalpa will give you the courage. 

How is a sankalpa different from an affirmation?

A sankalpa is essentially an affirmation. But most of the time, affirmations don’t work because people spread their intentions by wanting too much too fast. In addition, an affirmation will usually have a shallow impact, whereas a sankalpa can change the course of your life. The sankalpa works because of the care you take to make it get into your subconscious mind. Random affirmations will find it hard to do so.

Can you change your resolution?

Ideally, you want an intention you can keep your whole life. But if it has already manifested, you can change it if you wish. You can also change it if you feel that you don’t need it any longer. There are no moral or ethical codes against changing your sankalpa. However, for the reasons I have described already, I advise you not to take a change of your sankalpa lightly. When you change, you have to start all over, unless your new one has the same direction as your old.

Can you influence others with a sankalpa?

I advise against trying to influence others with your sankalpa. Furthermore, I advise against letting your sankalpa depend on someone else’s actions. Please keep it simple and let your sankalpa work on you. Let it change yourself and your life. The impact it has on you will, in turn, benefit others. 

Key takeaways

You can use a sankalpa to change the course of your life. For it to be efficient, choose only one, keep it secret and repeat it when you are receptive to it. Once your sankalpa is anchored deep in your mind, then take action to make it come true. It is now the magic starts happening. 

Editors note: I originally published this article in October 2018. On July 9th 2021, I republished a wholly rewritten version of it.

Written by Christian Möllenhoff

About the Author

Christian Möllenhoff is an experienced yoga and meditation teacher as well as a teacher trainer. He is from Sweden, but he lives and teaches in France. He is the driving force behind Forceful Tranquility.