Amma has said that Her divine resolve or Sankalpa means that whatever She does is for the benefit of all of creation. Imagine then Her Sankalpa for Amrita Yoga. The Supreme Consciousness Herself directs us to our true nature using asanas to experience the cosmic wonder. The experience is mysterious, subtle and all pervasive.
Awareness of breath brings us into the present moment and opens our heart. With love we inhale, receiving life in its abundance, and with gratitude we exhale and let go, relaxing into the Divine Presence and allowing this simple act to consciously infuse us with life and faith.
Moment by moment, our breath keeps a rhythm unique and universal to all. Amma tells us there is no separation, that all is one. To yoke, or join, as the definition of yoga suggests, is to experience that we are already One. Yoga is becoming more than striving. Our efforts are just small steps of faith advancing to infinite Grace.
As we practice the asanas, we become more aware of our intentions. Why am I doing Amrita Yoga? I remember feeling that I wanted to be an Amrita Yoga teacher so I could feel closer to Amma, to feel that no matter where I was, I could be directed towards Her. But what does that really mean? What if I feel lost, what is my internal compass? Amma says that “God rushes towards any heart that beats with compassion – it is God’s favorite place.” This awareness of the heart opens us to the highest vibrations of love; it is the altar of God. Like a musical instrument tuned for performance, our lives can respond intimately to these higher vibrations. Amrita Yoga brings us quietly within and lets the heart move through the asanas. Our practice can be joyous, our asanas enlivening, and our hearts ecstatic. With Amma’s blessing, we hear Her call, and the infinite opens up our hearts.
With this greater awareness, the dawning of a deeper intention arises. There is so much more to our lives than we think! We steady ourselves in the asanas and breathe. We resonate and expand with the mantras. We take direct aim at the supreme target with our intentions. Amma says, “Every word, action, thought, and deed should be directed towards our goal.” We must not be mesmerized by this physical reality. As we call upon God, and bring our intentions to realize truth, love and compassion, we set our time for sacred practice.
When I walked into a room recently for an Amrita Yoga class I was teaching, I was shocked. I thought, “This is just a room: nothing but four bare walls, blaring ceiling lights and a carpeted grey floor.” I brought in a table and set up a small altar for Amma with an arati lamp, incense and flowers. As for so many others around the world, the altar became the focal point. The next day when I lit the lamp, we stood and chanted. A feeling came over me that I could call with confidence on Amma’s presence. By Her Grace, it surely revealed itself, for my intention was for Her to be present in the class. The Divine is omnipresent, and experiencing that is the goal. My intention for any environment to reveal its Spiritual Presence achieved a new resonance. But it now seemed to arise from a different place, a subtle internal communication. It felt different because it was more a sensation in my heart than a thought in my mind. To me, this was the direct manifestation of Amma’s Sankalpa. It sprang from some deeper well of resolve and had Divine authority in it. It was the truth calling us to our spiritual connection.
Sankalpa is a Sanskrit word. San means the highest values in life, and kalpa the vow or determination. A Sankalpa is a heartfelt intention reflecting our highest ideals and core values. It orients our being to our higher purpose. Like a seed that produces a tree, a Sankalpa is the will or determination to nurture and care for that seed. This determination does not seem to take root at once; it is bound in the desire to achieve the goal. It means, “I will be decisive. I will be wholehearted. My growth is certain. I know I will make mistakes, but I will pick myself up and continue.” A Sankalpa is a long view. It is creative, dharmic and exciting. It is our very nature coming into awareness; it is already there. “You are already One,” Amma says.
Recently I again experienced the power of Sankalpa when Amma was giving darshan. Swami Amritatmananda was chanting the archana, the 108 names for Amma, and the 1000 names for the Divine Mother. By Amma’s grace I could feel the intention of the sacred space he was creating. His presence exuded a tender spiritual authority in praise of the Divine. It seemed to me that his Sankalpa was alive with the Divine. It was exactly the inspiration I needed to find my path to freedom.