New Year’s Resolutions: 9 Sankalpas for 2013

The Sanskrit word for “resolution” or “intention” is Sankalpa. The number nine is considered very auspicious in Indian spirituality. This is because of the number nine’s connection with the number three…three is considered the number of completion, as in the cycle of life (birth, life, death), the construction of any quality story or other writing (beginning, middle, end), and the stages of one’s life (youth, middle age, old age). There are three divisions to the day: morning, afternoon, and night. Time is also a triple division, of past, present, and future.  Continue reading

Ayurveda: the Ancient Indian Art and Science of Creating Pattern-Breaking, Sustainable Change

Six years ago, as a 20-year-old college student in New York City, I asked myself a question that would end up dramatically changing the course of my life forever. I had just been admitted into the Catherine B. Reynolds Scholarship Program in Social Entrepreneurship, which defined social entrepreneurship as “pattern-breaking, sustainable and scalable change related to issues of social importance.” How can I create pattern-breaking change, in a sustainable way, within my own life, and scale those changes into the work I wish to do in the world? I asked myself. Ayurveda, the art and science of life from ancient India, has undoubtedly been the answer to this powerful question. Continue reading

‘Becoming the Change:’ The Practice of Liberation

Habitual patterns of the mind were a strong theme of the Wednesday meditation session I attended last week. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said,

“Sow a thought and reap an action

Sow an act and reap a habit

Sow a habit and reap a character

Sow a character and reap a destiny.”

The core of the yoga and meditation practices is arguably the work we do to purify and thereby transform what are called samskaras in Sanskrit, or sankaras in Pali (the ancient language of Gautama the Buddha). These samskaras are like habits, in that they constitute the accumulated impressions – scientifically speaking, the neuron patterns – that determine our character, ways of thinking and behaving and overall outlook on and approach to life.

I like Yoga Journal writer and meditation teacher Sally Kempton’s interpretation of samskaras as “some scars.” Kempton describes samskaras as energy patterns in the consciousness, mental grooves that are like rivulets in sand that allow water to run in specific patterns. She often talks about how samskaras create our ‘default’ mental, physical and emotional settings. The thought “I can’t do this” when faced with a new challenge is a negative samskara that can be replaced by the confidence you feel when you finally master something that was initially challenging. Continue reading