What kind of sankalpa should one make during the practice of yoga nidra?
Swami Yogatirth: When we are looking for our sankalpa, we are looking for one sankalpa only. We repeat this sankalpa at the beginning and end of yoga nidra and at other times during the day, as often as we feel to do so.
The most common translation of sankalpa is resolve or resolution. Sankalpa is a force that propels us ahead and forward in life. According to Swami Satyananda, anything can be changed in life with the help of a sankalpa. Sankalpa has the power to turn us into the makers of our destiny.
Swami Niranjan says that a sankalpa needs two components to become this powerful force. The first component has to remove negativity from our life, making us better people and enhancing the quality of our interactions in life. The second component has to give direction and an aim to our life.
Sometimes the sankalpa comes to us in a dream, during the practice of yoga nidra or in meditation. Sometimes we read or hear a sentence and it becomes our sankalpa as we recognize and accept the direction it will give to our life. However, if the sankalpa does not reveal itself in its final form, then we have to find and formulate one ourselves.
When we choose a sankalpa, understanding is the first step. We have to understand who we are and where we stand in life. We have to know what we want to change, what our limitations are and where our negativities manifest. We will probably come across a few elements in our life and personality that we would like to change.
Therefore, the second step is setting priorities. We can choose only one sankalpa. If we choose different sankalpas we will dissipate the energy. We also have to define if we want the change to happen in the physical body, our mind with its hang-ups and inhibitions, or if we want to deal with our social interactions or our spiritual life. Is the bad back a priority so we make a sankalpa to improve the condition of the back? Is the family situation or our sadhana a priority? Where do we want to invest the power of sankalpa?
The third step is to have conviction and faith that we are able to change. With discrimination we choose not something outrageous, beyond the scope of our reach, but something we feel comfortable with. The feeling, "I can achieve my goal" must be there. Sankalpa is not just an idea, but it is asking us to act. For example, if we have a bad back, by only saying, "Oh, I will have a strong and healthy back", nothing will happen. We also have to act on that sankalpa. The sankalpa has to create a continuous motivation. It has to keep us going and not bore us after two weeks. Therefore, we have to balance and juggle between the conviction, "Yes, I can do it", and a touch of challenge, otherwise our motivation will dwindle quickly.
The fourth step is love. Our heart and whole being has to be in the sankalpa. The choice of sankalpa is not intellectual. The attitude, "Oh, I had better do something", is not helpful. A sankalpa is without a sense of obligation. We choose a sankalpa which we will love to fulfil.
Knowing that our sankalpa has to improve our life and give direction, we can approach the choice of sankalpa from different angles. We can decide on a short-term or long-term sankalpa. We can choose a sankalpa for a certain time frame, a few months or weeks. Otherwise, we have a long-term or life sankalpa, a guiding force throughout life. Swami Niranjan says that it is better to start with a short-term sankalpa in order to learn the practice of sankalpa. We have to learn to be aware of our relationship with the sankalpa, our commitment, our success and failure in living up to it. Swami Satyananda says that sometimes it may take years to find a long-term or life sankalpa. We should not rush into a long-term sankalpa, because it will definitely take us somewhere. We must be sure that it is where we want to be.
As far as the wording is concerned, we make a short, positive statement. Some people like to put the sankalpa in the future tense, "I will have a strong, healthy back" or "I will be successful." The future tense implies that they are not there yet, they have to do more and strive harder. The future tense keeps the motivation alive. Other people prefer the present tense, "I have a good, healthy back." Whenever they are in a situation of pain and discomfort, they remember, "Actually, I have a strong back." The sankalpa acts as a reminder and they can tap the source of their health. There is no right or wrong. We can experiment with the tense that suits us better as well as the sankalpa.
Swami Satyananda says that the success of the sankalpa depends on how well we know why we have chosen it. If we know well the purpose of our choice, and are sincere in acting to manifest it, then our sankalpa will surely come true and be successful.