Sankalpa : Clearing a path for Focus


We speak of this word a lot. What does it mean, and why is it worthy of exploration?

The English word intention derives from Latin intentio, ‘stretching towards, purpose’. In yoga tradition this is often referred to as sankalpa - a focused resolve, and an intention of the heart-mind

Distractions or discomfort inevitable arises when we step into any practice (which is why we practice!). It is a sign of growth - and a great teacher that shows us the fickle nature of our minds. Our sankalpa is a kind of anchor that carries us past all these waves, to keep our focus centred, but also broad.

Whatever you focus on, you will feel.

How often do you notice your focus drifting towards the noise of the day?
When so much stimulus is pulling our attention in different directions, it is important to have a tool to help us refocus. To create a space of more clarity, so we can choose what is important in this moment. 

Holding an intention with the soft palms of your attention is invaluable practice. It teaches us how to guide our attention to what matters - not just once, but over and over again. 


Close your eyes. Imagine a gentle flame behind the sternum, at the centre of your heart space. Simply watch the flame - it may be flickering rapidly with thoughts, ideas, plans… steady your breath through it all. 

Like the practice of trataka, keep your soft focus on the flame. Cradle its light with your breath. Allow any disturbances to flow around you, and gently past you.

When you feel your attention wavering, perhaps the flame wobbling - come back to the breath. Inhale, imagine cupping your palms around the warmth of the flame, and simply hold space. Exhale. 

Stay for 10 breaths, or until you can feel the illumination of the light grow broader, softer, from your centre.

Animation | Lucy Lawes

Animation | Lucy Lawes


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