Within the tradition of yogic meditation there is the concept of sankalpa. At the beginning of an extended period of meditation, known as Yoga Nidra, or sleep of the yogis, the practitioner visualizes, feels, intuits, or silently states a certain aspect of life he or she wants to see manifested. The translation of sankalpa (from Sanskrit) is the English word intention. The idea is that if we internalize our positive intentions while in a state of deep relaxation, we will be more likely to act on those intentions in our daily thoughts and actions.

An intention is different from a resolution in that there is no way to fail or not meet one’s expectations. Each day we work on creating the life we want to live, rather than waiting for New Year’s Day. If we choose a particular sankalpa, we keep it in our minds until we see the results we have been visualizing. But it’s always possible to change because of intervening events in our lives.

It’s interesting how events unfold. Last year I kept saying to myself, “I have a published collection of poems.” I said it to myself before falling asleep at night, and I repeated the affirmation at the beginning of my Yoga Nidra meditation, visualizing a book spinning around in space with the word Poems embossed in silver on the cover.

And in 2008 I did publish a collection of poems, although it wasn’t made of poems I wrote. Jo Hemmant and I produced ouroboros review, which is most definitely a book of poems. Our intentions don’t always come about the way we originally dream of them, but it’s important to look back and see the results of our thoughts and actions, and to recognize the power of the imagination. It’s also a good idea to be very specific when trying to get a message across to the unconscious mind!

My sankalpa now is to write strong poems that move others, and to share them in print, on the web, and in person, through readings and workshops. I say it in the present tense, as if it were already true.

16 thoughts on “Intentions

  1. carolee says:

    christine, this is a beautiful and gentle way to grow, setting intentions. with most things, at least for me, i really feel like i must beat myself over the head with expectations and deadlines. that’s typically what works for me. although i did set an intention with something this fall that has been working fabulously (for the most part).

    so while i will stumble through 2009 with a hundred goals stacked on my head like a teetering tower of plates and tea cups, i think i’ll savor one or two simple and good things as intentions instead.

    congrats on ouroboros in 2008. and i know your strong poems will be planted and grow in the world in 2009.


  2. dale says:

    In some ways, all spiritual practice is about cultivating intention. So says my lama, anyway.

    I wonder if the word “sankalpa” is related to “kalpa” (meaning roughly “eon”), and if so, how?


  3. christine says:

    Carolee, yes, that’s the point, not to beat up on ourselves. Dale, I’ve tried to find the etymology of “saMkalpa,” but have has no luck. I’ll keep working on it, because you have me curious now too.


  4. christine says:

    Dale, I found this definition:

    Kalpa: Hindu – Hinduism Dictionary on Kalpa

    kalpa: (Sanskrit) From krlip, “arranged, ordered.”

    1) Rules for ceremony or sacred living, as in the Kalpa Vedanga.

    2) Determination or resolve, as in sankalpa.

    3) A vast period of time also known as a day of Brahma, equaling 994 mahayugas, or 4,294,080,000 years.

    See: cosmic cycle, Kalpa Vedanga, sankalpa, yuga.

    (See also: Kalpa , Hinduism, Body Mind and Soul)


  5. Michelle says:

    Christine, what a beautiful visualisation and post. Yes, let’s embrace sacred living.

    May your year ahead be filled with creativity, love and extraordinary adventures.


  6. Jo says:

    A beautiful post this. I too visualise what I really want and need…….and have been doing much the same as you *grin*. And you’ve been a huge support in my reaching my goals, and for that I thank you.


  7. Julie says:

    Christine, you have already written many powerful poems that have moved others. I am so happy to be one of your readers.

    This is an excellent way to think, and I am going to give it a try, too. I love the idea of visualizing the goal as if it were already true. Wonderful. You and Jo visualized a beautiful journal, and ouroboros review was the end result. I’d say that is quite a successful vision!

    Thank you so much for your kind words to me. The past few weeks have been rough, but your friendship has touched me deeply and means the world to me. Good people like you keep me sane…or as close to sane as I’ll ever be:)

    Happy new year. It has been a pleasure to know you and Jo and everyone I have met through you. Best wishes for a new year full of happiness and peace.


  8. odessa says:

    This is a wonderful way to start the new year Christine! I am inspired to visualize my own intentions too, and right now I’m visualizing Spain – a sidewalk cafe in Barcelona, sun hitting my face, and pen and paper next to me 🙂

    Again, Happy New Year! I am so grateful to have met people like you and Jo and everyone at RWP. You guys have ispired me in so many ways. Thank you.


  9. ybonesy says:

    Christine, this is a gentle and wonderful way to start the year. I wish I had read it before last night, as I led a group of people through intentions for 2009. I love the way you say it in the present, affirming the intention in a powerful way.


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