'Whatever I need, will be given'

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

For a few weeks the sankalpa being offered in the yoga nidrā classes is 'whatever I need, will be given'.

Sankalpa is often translated as 'heart's desire', which can be a little misleading without unpacking somewhat. I used to ask students to devise their own sankalpas in class but without understanding what heart's desire is, often meant it simply became 'desires'. My favourite was a gentleman who told me that his 'heart's desire' was a beer at the end of the class, and that each week the class must've worked as he got his beer each time.

When we say 'heart's desire' what is actually meant? It is often said that our true nature- or Self/ātman- resides in our heart. I personally question this (it resides everywhere surely?), but it gives an indication of what is meant. It is a desire stemming from our Self, our soul, which isn't usually beer (although I'm not ruling that out!). It gets a bit more complex as ultimately the soul 'desires' nothing, perhaps other than simply being. So what 'heart's desire' becomes is a 'universal truth'- a 'teaching' from the true nature of reality. [This is what makes sankalpas different to affirmations and the reason affirmations rarely work- they are not often universal truths so an inner knowing will often block them]

The sankalpa, 'whatever I need, will be given' might sound like it stems from desire. We often 'need' material possessions it seems. E.g. I need a car to get to work. But if you break down nearly every 'need', do you need it, or do you just want it? Or to put another way, desire it?

So what do we need? And what is given? Some of this may risk sounding like spiritual bypassing, so I will try to word it carefully. It could be said that we are given this body to learn 'lessons' which the soul 'desires' in order to be fully 'revealed'. In many Eastern philosophies it is said this is what leads to reincarnation, until our true nature is revealed, understood and rested into. So what 'I' need is those 'lessons', which I guess do sometimes come in beer, but not very often. Definitely not every week after class anyway.

The sankalpa could be worded slightly differently, meaning the same- 'whatever I am given, I need.' It can be difficult to see so much horrific suffering in the world and then say 'whatever I am given, I need'. And please never say this to someone who is suffering- 'oh your soul needs this'. No, no and no again! This is what I mean by the risk of spiritual bypassing here. For clarity, this is not denying anyone's lived experience. That is real. It is not suggesting that we should not help one another to the best of our abilities, and it is not saying people 'need' some of the absolutely horrible events that occur in this world. I am also not suggesting this is an understanding that arises any time soon after great levels of suffering. In fact, it may not even occur in this lifetime.

Yet for quite a few, many years down the line, they see the reasons for these events. So many times in my own life, something that seemed bad at the time and caused suffering in varying levels, later became a perceived 'blessing'. This meant in time it became easier to understand that there is no point in judging something 'good'/'bad' as we don't really know the true outcome. Then the reverse could be said too, with seemingly 'good' events, turning out for what seemed 'bad' later down the line. The same could happen to that perceived 'blessing'. This is what so many teachings of yoga and Eastern philosophies are sharing with us.

Deeply understanding that we are given what we need helps us to find the teachings in what occurs in our lives. It helps us to be less judgemental of a situation and in time move towards 'is-ness', where everything just is- opposed to 'is good', 'is bad' etc. Our true nature knows 'whatever I need, will be given', but it is the thinking mind which believes otherwise. It is the thinking mind which perceives and suffers. Through the practice of yoga nidrā and the use of sankalpas, we can return to our true nature and in time put an end to our suffering.

Have a try for yourself below. Remember, these things can take time for the real benefits to shine through, but in the meantime they're blissfully relaxing!