August 20, 2015

What I Learned This Summer: Sankalpa.

Steven Depolo/Flickr

Every January first, broken promises are made.

While I’m sure some people make and keep their pledges of self-improvement as the calendar page turns to start each new year, the news media are filled with anecdotal evidence of people who aren’t able to follow through.

I don’t happen to believe in New Year’s resolutions. I used to try to make them, but I ended up as one of those failed anecdotes.

And then I learned about sankalpa.

Sankalpa is a yogic tradition that allows for the realization of heartfelt desires. The literal definition is resolve. Where this differs from a New Year’s resolution is that sankalpa assumes you are already enough; whereas a New Year’s resolution is usually based on the premise that something about you needs to be “fixed.”

I created a sankalpa this year because a significant life change is on the horizon. My nest is emptying baby bird by baby bird, and soon I will be responsible for just me again. This enormous change in my situation has prompted several of my friends to ask a simple question meant to get me thinking:

Then what?

Those two simple words loomed large. So I took hold of them and created my sankalpa: to do real work on my dreams.

Enter elephant journal’s Summer Academy.

It was perfectly timed! I would get to learn about writing and editing from people who were doing the very thing I had wanted to do my whole life.

I confess to having always wanted to write for elephant journal, but I never thought my writing was good enough (for a wide variety of reasons, none of which make sense after having participated in the Academy). Submitting the first assignment was a nerve-wracking experience, but I had made a commitment to myself and the process, so once I hit send I chanted a couple of rounds of the Maha (Hare Krishna) Mantra and let it go.

To quote Paul Muad’Dib in the movie Dune (the superior 1984 version, of course), “the sleeper has awakened.”

I went into this with my voice unheard—unknown even to myself. I’ve come out the other side as a person more confident in my writing, knowing that I can speak out and somebody will hear me.

Along the path of working through the assignments, I met my tribe. This was a strange reality for me, because I come from rather a large family, and one would think that somewhere among all those people I would feel a kinship beyond the blood flowing through our veins. It took my deciding to apply for and participate in the apprenticeship, however, to find people on the same wavelength. People who truly understood the creative process. People who were okay with my not talking about myself.

In the middle of the Academy, I completed 168 contact hours of yoga teacher training. Because of having found my voice through elephant journal, I feel as though I was able to more fully participate in and enjoy the YTT experience.

Oddly enough, given the way I spent my summer, I can’t find the words to truly express how grateful I am for everything I’ve gotten from the experience of working with the Academy. I have made new friends and found my voice.

And that has made all the difference.




Relephant reads:

Sankalpa & Our Vow to Change.

How Changing the Story in My Head changed my life.


Author: Lois Person

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Flickr/Stephen Depolo


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