by Miranda Weindling
Consequently, they dismiss them before they can even contemplate trying them.
However, it's not really magic at all.
Contemporary findings in the burgeoning field of
outline our neurological capacity to change our beliefs, behaviors,
Many of us dismiss intention setting as esoteric,
but there is a science behind it.
Understanding neuroplasticity was actually what gave me the push to
start - and stick with - a Sankalpa practice, as both told me that
lasting change was indeed possible.
like learning an instrument,
build new neural pathways.
Having always been a shy child, I assumed that the increasing anxiety I suffered in any potentially stressful situation was just how I was wired.
However, the wisdom of neuroplasticity told me that I had the
brainpower to re-wire myself
- this would involve taking on my thought process, so I turned my
attention to my mind and the stories of fear and failure I was
It is, in Freudian
psychoanalytic terms, our drive. The desire that is motivating us,
residing deep within the unconscious realms of our mind.
a practice centering on this intention or 'resolve' - to use the
contemporary translation of Sankalpa - the aim is to choose and then
change what our driving desire is.
The aim of a Sankalpa practice
is to choose and then change
what our driving desire is.
However, just muttering 'I am confident. I am confident. I am confident…' to myself in a mirror wasn't quite going to cut it.
An effective intention needs to be
truly felt in order to really believe it.
Effectively, an opportunity that creates a space where we can allow ourselves to really feel that the change already exists within us.
Neuroplastic research gives evidence of this psycho-physical relationship.
In one of Davidson's aptly titled talk 'Transform your mind, change your brain - Neuroplasticity and personal transformation' he uses the phrase 'the embodied mind' to encapsulate the idea that our minds and brains are not simply supported by a disembodied architecture.
But rather there is
bidirectional communication between the brain and the body which
provides a mechanism for our minds to influence our bodies in ways
that may be consequential for health.
on Neuroplasticity and personal transformation.
You physically know what it is like in that moment to have that asset in your life. This phenomenon is perhaps the most integral, if not the most challenging part of a Sankalpa practice.
However, as Davidson states, it is bidirectional - therefore if the mind is having trouble believing, start with the body.
This is perhaps one of the most known explanations of how to tap into the embodied mind.
Cuddy's research was motivated by the proposition that when you pretend to be powerful, you are more likely to actually feel powerful we know that our minds change our bodies,
Effectively, if you play the part, particularly through body language, of a 'powerful' or successful person it is possible to actually influence the body's physiological processes to line up with this.
It appears that another natural consequence of this will
be the creation of a new thought pattern or neuroplastic change.
makes us feel more confident,
despite what our minds may tell us.
However, over time, with dedicated practice to feeling confident, the desire to run became quieter as the purposeful walk towards the situation became more natural.
It wasn't until I got really familiar with imagining what my life would feel like if I was free from anxiety during my Sankalpa practice, that I began to get an actual taste of confidence in my day-to-day life.
for myself that it is as much a state of the body, as it is a state
The aim is to integrate the wishes of the mind into the neurological processes of the brain, which translates to the functioning and feelings in our body and ultimately is seen in the actions and appearances of us as individuals!
The transformation can happen from the top (brain/mind) down, or from the bottom (body/behavior) up.
So if stating your desire is not working, try flipping it on its head and let the body guide the mind.