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Practice Being You

Before attending the Yoga Nidra training I just completed a few weeks ago, I pretty much ignored one of its essential precepts.  It’s called sankalpa, and it generally translates as “resolve” in English. 


Although it doesn’t occur in every Western iteration of Yoga Nidra, stating one’s sankalpa is part of the traditional Indian practice, which has its roots in ancient Tantric meditation. We might think of sankalpa as a translation of the heart's still, small voice into clear, definite words.  The statement of a sankalpa helps practitioners turn a unique inner truth into action that will become part of their outward lives.


And—in my case, at least—Yoga Nidra helps the practitioner find an inner truth to begin with. 


My training was immersive, explicitly and repeatedly offering direct experience of Yoga Nidra.  I chose this particular yoga school precisely because this approach is its hallmark, whatever topic its teachers are covering.  For me, the technical aspects of a subject are usually accessible: I like to read, study, and analyze (I’m a jnana yogi—topic for a different blog post…).  My knowledge tends to be brain-heavy rather than body-bound.  When looking for Yoga Nidra training, therefore, I wanted to be led into territory I knew I would least understand: my own mind’s deeper consciousness, rather than its logical, sometimes heavily-armored, exterior.


Flash forward to me lying comfortably on the floor of a beautiful yoga shala in Mexico. 


Again and again, as my teachers’ gentle voices guided me to state my sankalpa “clearly and with confidence,” or offered some similar encouragement, I came up with nothing.  Not a thing.  Just a blank, where my “resolve” should be.  After a few experiences like this, I realized that no one was upset about this predicament, except me.  Everyone—my humane and mellow coaches, my gentle colleagues, even the palms and cacti—simply continued existing, right there next to me, not disappointed, not demanding more. 


Eventually, I did discover the perfect sankalpa for me, for now.  It appeared when I wasn’t directly looking, the way faint stars shine more clearly when you gaze into space just beside them.  Sankalpa definitely sets Yoga Nidra apart from other meditative techniques, which sometimes focus on relaxation alone—overlooking the fact that lack of resolve, forgetting how to know and trust ourselves, is exactly what can lead to the desperate need for relaxation in the first place. 


Whether you practice Yoga Nidra or not, I encourage you to examine how resolve appears (or doesn’t appear) in your life.  Boldness, courage, willpower—all these are both required and available to everyone in this life.  Yoga Nidra, however, is precisely designed to address their dynamics, so you don’t need to reinvent wheels. 


If you are beginning the practice of Yoga Nidra, doing so with an in-person guide is better than with an app (though using an app is probably better than not trying at all).  And if you have “tried” Yoga Nidra but, like me, didn’t understand all the hype, you might try again.  Practice being you. Trust that your heart’s desire does want to reveal itself.  It will coalesce into tangible results, weaving itself into the granular, visible design of your life.

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