How to Set Intention/Sankalpa?

Sankalpa is a sanskrit word used to set intentions; it means your heartfelt desire.  San is an idea/concept formed in the heart, mind, body that represents the “highest validity” of who you are as related to your dharma. Kalpa is a steadfast determination, intention, will, promise, or a “solemn vow” to be followed above all others.   

This heartfelt desire is a statement that reflects your true nature. It is literally and simply a statement of who you are, a deeply held fact, and a vow that is true in the present moment. It reminds you that whatever is required of you is already within you. 

The Upanishad Scriptures state: 

  • You are your deepest desire [Sankalpa].
  • As is your desire so is your intention.
  • As is your intention so is your will.
  • As is your will so is your deed.
  • As is your deed so is your destiny.

Whatever goal arises and ask yourself what’s underneath it.  For example, if your goal is to “stop smoking” then perhaps explore what desire underlies this goal such as “health” or “I am kind to my body.”  “A sankalpa isn’t a petition or a prayer … It is a statement of deeply held fact, and a vow that is true in the present moment.”

Experiment with stating your intention in the present tense. For example, rather than saying, “I want to be more compassionate,” your Sankalpa might be stated as “I am compassionate.” Or you can state a word that you hold as a seed inside yourself, “compassion”. 

In daily living, this is a guidepost/bookmark. You can ask yourself does this “move me away from myself/intention or towards myself/intention?” 

During meditation, state your sankalpa 3 times, give it a place, let it go, and know it is always there for you.