Yoga Tribe Blog


5-Step Action Plan for Transformation

Step 1: Surrender (iswaraprandaya)
The first part of creating a sankalpa is getting clear on what you want to bring forward in your life. But you don’t need to get too cerebral. Instead, to find an authentic resolution, “you need to ask your soul,” says Rod Stryker, founder of ParaYoga and the author of The Four Desires: Creating a Life of Purpose, Happiness, Prosperity, and Freedom. “It’s the answer to the question: What is essential that I become or achieve to fulfill my highest purpose?”

Step 2: Inquire (atma vichar)
The second step of creating a sankalpa is transforming a desire into a clearly articulated intention, including words and actions that bring the desire to life.

Step 3: Commit (tapas)
Even a heartfelt desire—that bigger-than-self goal—can be challenging to sustain. There’s just no getting around the fact that maintaining your resolve “is sometimes a swoon, sometimes a slog,” says Roth. In this battle against our own propensity for inertia, tapas—the willingness to undergo great sensation in the service of transformation—is your weapon of choice. Although tapas has a lofty ring, it can take the humble form of habit-building. “Habits are the invisible architecture of daily life,” says Gretchen Rubin, author of Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. “They are what allow us to keep our commitments to ourselves.” Establishing a new habit takes the most discipline, because it relies on willpower to keep making the same decision day after day until it achieves the momentum of habit.

Step 4: Persevere (abhyasa)
Beyond resolve is perseverance, which offers the opportunity to uncover the negative behaviors that can create roadblocks. “Any intention runs the risk that the unconscious mind is not on board,” says Stryker. “The vikalpa—that which takes us away from our underlying reality—is the old fear-based pattern that wants comfort and safety.” An example: We set an intention to find a fulfilling relationship, but we’re afraid of being hurt and thus unintentionally shy away from real intimacy. We won’t fulfill the intention until we acknowledge what’s obstructing it. Opposing desires like these are common, says Stryker: One supports our negative patterns and fears; the other feeds our ultimate well-being and sense of fulfillment. “But once we see the old pattern, we have power over it,” says Stryker. “It’s really just a matter of applying awareness and understanding that any given moment is an opportunity to choose whether we honor our sankalpa or follow our nonconstructive desire. So in the case of relationship-seeking, we can either honor our desire for a fulfilling relationship or our desire to avoid being hurt by someone we love.”

Step 5: Envision (darshan)
Sometimes being able to see the finish line makes us slow our pace (“I’m so close, I can slack a little”) instead of propelling us forward. In those moments, visualize the future you in order to get a boost over the hump. Psychologists call this exercise “encoding prospective memories.” It tricks your brain into believing your goal is a fait accompli—an already accomplished feat—making you more likely to make choices that fit your future self. 

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