Guest: Samantha Hunter

Please welcome Samantha Hunter back to the convertible, and our new digs!  Samantha has an awesome new Xmas release right now, I’ll Be Yours For Christmas, and is talking sankalpa today.  What’s that?  Read on, and find out!  And be sure to leave a comment to be entered to win the fabulous basket featured below.

What’s Your Sankalpa?

Thanks to the Riders for having me here today! I can hardly believe Christmas is just a week or so away. And then. . .New Years.

We don’t party or go out, and generally we just enjoy a quiet, peaceful easing into the new year after what are usually hectic holidays. This year I might have a New Year’s Day brunch. I gave up resolutions years ago, since they seemed largely doomed to fail.  Then I got into yoga this year, and when reading Yoga Journal, I came upon this article about setting New Year’s sankalpa — what’s that?

No, it’s not some kind of exotic cookie or drink. 🙂

A sankalpa is setting an intention in a positive way – and it’s a deeper way of looking at the promises you make to yourself. You don’t set yourself up for failure with a sankalpa. They don’t address the surface (I need to lose weight) but the thing that lies beneath that need. There is no failure – you just make the effort every day. Some days maybe more than others. It’s not a matter of success of failure with sankalpa, but just an ongoing effort.

Say your resolution is to be more organized. The need to be more organized is often a hint that you feel things are too scattered, busy, or cluttered, and you aren’t are too overwhelmed by it all. So you might think, if I can just get this clutter picked up, it will solve the problem (not). Try instead, “I want to enjoy my day and the people things in it.” To be able to enjoy something means you have to slow down and pay attention. You have to be in the moment. This becomes an intention you try to carry with you (we’re writers, so you can always write it down and carry it with you). Did you enjoy breakfast with your kids, dinner with your spouse, or were you tied to your calendar on your smartphone? Did you enjoy walking your dog, and see how funny she can be, or was your mind elsewhere? Do you enjoy your food, or do you just consume it?

One thing I love about yoga is the idea of practice and acceptance. Whatever I can do today is good. There really is no failure. Don’t go into your sankalpa trying to be perfect every day. We’re not perfect, especially when we are trying something new, so accept that. Rejecting the “no pain no gain,” “results-oriented” “multi-tasking” philosophy that’s been ground into us has been an eye-opener. I think we’re so conditioned to try to change ourselves through negative means, we forget how much more powerful positive ones can be.

I’m still mulling exactly what my sankalpa will be for 2011. I’m still working it out. The article recommends a little soul-searching on this issue, and I am doing that, but general advice I would add would be to avoid anything that comes with “should” pressure, or the “or else” kind of feeling. Make sure the same kind of negativity that often lurks in resolutions isn’t infecting your sankalpa. I think it should feel like giving yourself a gift, or a compliment, which is often hard to do – so work at it.

So, what are resolutions you have been thinking about, and how might you change it to a sankalpa? Share, and you might win this Christmas basket that Joanne Rock and I have put together for a lucky winner at the end of the day.

Please visit Samantha at her website!

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52 Responses to Guest: Samantha Hunter

  1. EllenToo says:

    I’m not real sure this is sankalpa but I have changed my walking in the mall…..I use to just walk fast from one end to the other and back again without noting much of anything but now I watch what is going on around me as I walk and enjoy some of the action I see. I walk past a children’s play area and actually notice how delighted they are. And I enjoy the music they are playing whereas before I didn’t even hear it. And yes they have music even when it isn’t Christmas.

    • Hi Ellen! I think that sounds perfect — enjoying the experience rather than just rushing through it to get it done. I was talking to someone about that recently. She kept talking about needing to find something that she could “make herself do” — I’ve come around to thinking that there are too many things in life we have to make ourselves do — things that we do for ourselves, like exercise, etc should be things we want to do, and we have to find that activity that we just enjoy doing, and not forcing it. Because if we’re making ourselves do it, we’re not going to keep doing that, I don’t think, so good for you!

  2. Welcome to our new site, Samantha! Thanks so much for helping us kick off our launch.

    Yoga looks very good to me. I’ve read about it, and I’ve gone to some exercise classes. I think I need to clear my mind of preconceptions–it’s going to take major effort on my part, so I have to prepare, commit, work hard–and take one day at a time. Our Puritan heritage influences us mightily, and that’s not always a good thing. It’s mainly subconscious, maybe part of our DNA. I think that’s where these “resolutions” come from. My lifelong sojourn in Indian Country–I’m talking American Indian, of course–has been such a blessing, helping me see that life is more than a project.

    • Hi Kathleen!

      I discovered yoga almost by accident, when my husband bought me the Wii Fit, which has some yoga on it. I liked the bit there was there, so I started doing more (just this year) on DVDs, and I started reading Yoga Journal (amazing resource). I don’t take classes, because I know I would be lured into trying to “keep up” rather than doing it at my own pace, and enjoying it. I did it all summer, and it was great — then I hit this insane fall (working 2 jobs with a book deadline) and stopped for 2.5 months, and when I came back to it, I knew I couldn’t look at it just as a workout routine — I had to make it part of my life, and part of my thinking — so I have been doing that, and I love the difference. I think that’s the essence of sankalpa, too, making something part of your life, not just a “thing you do.” I hope you find what works for you! 🙂


  3. kris says:

    congrats on the release!

  4. Hellion says:

    My resolutions are typically the same every year: 1) eat more healthily (w/ intent to lose weight and be more heart healthy); 2) exercise more regularly and more often (regularly first and then add more as I get used to spending the time doing it); 3) write more (I’d really like to finish my novel)–so I imagine mine is more a time management issue and one of perfection (I have an “all or nothing” mentality with a lot of things). I try to be a more “Hey, some is better than nothing” but mentally I just think, “You’re still overweight, not fit, and you haven’t written so much as a grocery list in weeks, you big failure…” Which isn’t helpful. *LOL*

    I love yoga though. It’s one of the few things I do where I feel completely in the moment and not wishing I was somewhere else–or thinking I need to be somewhere else, doing something else. I’m just there. It’s quite meditative and challenging.

    • Hellion, sounds like you need to take that approach you have with yoga and apply it to everything else. I love the whole “Where you are today is good.” I say that to myself a lot. But I think it is a constant effort to change our mindsets, but I think once we realize how good it can feel to let go of those negative things, we find it easier to do. Still, there are lapses. We’re human, and we have bad days, and we just do the best we can. 🙂


  5. cindy gerard says:

    Hi Samantha! Welcome and congrats on your Christmas release. Looks like great fun!

    And I LOVE the idea of Sankalpa. I think I’ve actually turned a corner in that direction myself – without even knowing I was practicing Sankalpa. Within the last few months, I’ve decided to just not be so hard on myself … about a lot of things … but most specifically, the dreaded ‘must lose some weight’ issue. My first unwitting act of Sankalpa? I got rid of the bathroom scale 2 months ago. It’s. So. Freeing!! I used to step on that ‘guilt motivator’ EVERY morning. If I’d dropped a little weight, I’d reward myself by eating ‘just a little something’. If I’d added a little weight, I’d bludgeon myself with guilt and eat something because I felt so defeated.
    Now I just try to eat healthier and forget about the scale. (And so you know, I was at the doctor’s office a couple of weeks ago and I’d lost 8 pounds since my last visit!)
    So … no New Year’s resolutions for me for the first time ever!

    • Oh, Cindy, welcome to the “Screw the Scale” club! LOL Yay for you! I weigh myself — maybe — once a month, and have been doing that for several years. If that.

      Mostly I’ll go by clothes and how I feel, and I do want to lose weight, but you know why? Not to be skinny — I honestly don’t care about that. And I am already healthy. But I want to get more of the pudge out of the way so I can do more yoga! 🙂 So I’ll probably cut back and so forth in the spring, but for me there was a world of difference between old attitudes of “I need to lose weight” and “I want to be able to do more yoga more easily.” But that’s not a resolution, or even a sankalpa, really…just a thing I want to do.


  6. LSUReader says:

    What an interesting column. My target resolution would be for patience. I have to think about how to word that to fit the notion of sankalpa. Congrats on your Christmas book.

    • Hi LSU 🙂

      It does take some thought to dig down under and get to the deeper thing you want to use as sankalpa. If it’s patience, I guess the place to start is with the things that trigger you to feel impatient?

      I think the trick to all sankalpas is not doing it in a punishing way — so making sure it’s really a positive thing, and not letting the negative sneak in there, or thinking about this as something you need to “fix” but looking down under it to see what the underlying reasons are…

      It all gets very deep, I suppose, but that’s okay, too 🙂 Maybe the reason people’s resolutions don’t hold a lot of the time is because they don’t really think too much about them…


  7. Emma says:

    congrats on your Christmas healthier and more exercise .

  8. lois greiman says:

    Thanks for joining us, Samantha.

    I’m all for sankalpaing. Never heard of it before but it makes sense. Best of luck with your beautiful new book and your ‘beautiful intentions.’

  9. Maureen says:

    Most of my resolutions require me to stop procrastinating. I’m not sure what my sankalpa would be but probably something along the lines of my not looking at what hasn’t been done but appreciating what I do accomplish each day.

  10. Linda Henderson says:

    I think sankalpa is a wonderful idea. I gave up resolutions years ago because I never seemed to manage to accomplish what I wanted. Now I usually just say, I’m going to try and be healthier for the new year. Whether that means getting more exercise, eating healthier or having a more positive outlook , I’m going to try. Happy holidays and I can’t wait to read your holiday book.

  11. CrystalGB says:

    I love the idea of a sankalpa. My goal is to not sweat the small stuff and not worry so much. I think I will try by just enjoying life and staying calm when it comes to issues that come up.

    • Crystal, having perspective is everything, isn’t it? Even the stuff that seems like “big stuff” we can sometimes see wasn’t as big as we thought it was later. I sometimes try to “think like a 90 year old” LOL, like my Dad, who has been through so much in his almost 91 years that very little shakes him up. I guess the more you live, the more perspective you have on things — I imagine.


  12. Alina says:

    Hi Sam! My resolutions for this coming year are like most peoples to lose weight, finishing writing and send in my manuscript, and to try and just enjoy my hubby and kids. Time is just flying by and I don’t wanna miss a minute of it. Well unless a good book and chocolate are involved, lol! Oh and I just have to say that I am a card holding member of the “Screw the Scale” club! I think scales are evil and they just do more harm then good.

    Have a great day and a Very Merry Christmas!!!

  13. Kirsten says:

    I would like to be more brave. And I think by saying yes ore often than no I’ll have more/better life experiences that will make me stronger, braver.

    • What a great sankalpa — as long as you don’t get down on yourself for not feeling brave about everything. Fear serves a purpose, I think — sometimes, you face a fear and you learn that you enjoy something you didn’t think you would. Other times, you don’t. I hope you can mull this over and make it work for you as a sankalpa in 2011! Best of luck!


  14. Minna says:

    Right now my resolution is to get rid of stuff that is only taking up space, like 4 bags full of books I don’t want to keep. Somehow, no matter how many book bags I carry to the second hand bookstore, the books just keep multiplying. It’s a mystery…

  15. elaing8 says:

    I usually don’t make resolutions,I never follow through. I am a huge procrastinator….hmmm…maybe I need to work on that this year 🙂 I have lists of things I need to do, its just getting around to doing them..Maybe I’ll just set small goals everyday and take the time to get it done.

    • Elain, procrastination… we’re all guilty of that. It’s closely linked to the base of my sankalpa for 2011, which is related to having more focus (Love the Jackie Chan line in The Karate Kid, “Your focus needs more focus.”). If you are involved in what you are doing at the moment, and not thinking about what you should be doing instead, there is no procrastination, right? 😉 So maybe your sankalpa is something along the lines of living in the moment…

      Mine… is more about commitment, I think. . .I’m still kind of rolling it around in my head. 🙂


  16. Stephanie says:

    I want to stop procrastinating!!! I need to learn to do what needs to be done before fun, but I never seem to be able to especially if I have a new book. So maybe to focus on what is the most important? Maybe I’ll just think about it later 😉

    • Stephanie, maybe it’s finding the fun or pleasure in whatever you are doing? whether it’s reading or vacuuming? 😉 It could be interesting to have a sankalpa that is about finding the pleasure or the fun in everything you do…


  17. Helen Brenna says:

    Hey, Sam, welcome and congrats on the new release!

    Love this concept – I’m shooting for a more balanced life in 2011!

    • Hey Helen, thanks, and Happy Holidays!

      Balance. It’s the heart of yoga, of course. I love the whole idea that balance in your body can reflect balance in your mind, spirit, etc… and I think it works, because it takes focus to balance. And strength.

      I love this discussion. 🙂


  18. anne says:

    Interesting idea. I hope to have more time to devote to my wonderful d-i-l and to live a healthy lifestyle.

  19. Jane says:

    I haven’t done yoga in years and I think I really need to start again. In addition to healthier eating, I think I need to enjoy the meals with family and friends.

    • Jane, sometimes I think taking the time to enjoy anything creates an automatic slowing down… why they call slow food, well, slow food. LOL You slow down to enjoy things, so you don’t just zip on past. 🙂

      I hope you have a great 2011!


  20. DebraDixon says:

    Hey, Hunter!

    Kickass post. I say kickass because one of our authors just got a note from a fan who tried to post a review of her book on Borders and was told it couldn’t be posted because of the use of the word kickass. I am, of course, now using it in every sentence I can.

    I love the idea of going deeper than that easy surface resolution that we can just fire off without really doing the work of figuring out what is creating that need.

    I think my sankalpa is going to be mindful of wasted moments. Yep. That’s it. If I’m mindful of wasted moments, I will evaluate my time and use it wisely.

  21. Kathy says:

    I like the idea of turning resolutions into sankalpa. I don’t normally do resolutions because, you are right, they normally fail. I instead think I may try this sankalpa into my daily living by setting small goals for myself that are all reasonable and within reach. By doing just a little bit each day towards becoming a better person in all ways, mentally and physically.

  22. Lisa Boggs says:

    i need to lose some weight but i don’t want to harp on everything i eat or so. Instead of doing anything that’s going to require me to keep track of things i’ve bought a couple of wii games that are fun but will get me moving. wii Gold Gym which has dances to get you moving but you can have fun doing it and Just Dance which is bascially different dances with moves you’re supposed to imitate. I will try to drink more water and watch what i eat some but i’m not going to beat myself up because i’ll give up doing it that way.

    Lisa B
    modokker at yahoo dot com

  23. catslady says:

    This philosophy reminds me of a book, The New Earth, by Eckert Tolle. Live the moment. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn’t here yet. I’ve really been trying to forget past hurts and become more positive and to let go of my ego . No one wants to be around someone who complains, not even yourself lol.

    • I think you can complain (God knows I have done enough in the last week or so about the snow), because we’re human and have bad days. And ego is not all bad. 🙂 but it’s the balance thing. And perspective, and mindfulness… I’ll have to check out that book. I used to read a lot of Buddhist books, and one thing I like about Yoga a bit more is the body/mind connection, and how earthy it feels… I can’t empty my mind, I can’t (and don’t want to) detach from everything… but I can work on balance, focus, and breathing… So it’s about finding what is right for you. 🙂 But don’t beat yourself up for having a bad day, or even a bad week…


  24. Dina says:

    I don’t really make resolutions, just try to be happy with what I do, which can sometimes be tough.

    • Dina, it can be hard, because we expect too much. Not that we should be slackers, LOL, but I have noticed that when I stop worrying about how much I can get done, I get more done. 😉


  25. karenk says:

    a fabulous giveaway….please count me in ,… thanks 🙂

  26. runner10 says:

    My resolution is to be a more positive person. I hope to do this by surrounding myself with happy people.

  27. Laurie G says:

    My sankalpa is to be nicer to my 86 yo mother. We have very different personalaties and get on each others nerves. She’s getting quite forgetful and I know we won’t have that many more years together.I will need a ton of patience, not my forte.

    Financially we’ve had a disastrous year. We are going to stricter in our business dealings and not let people take advantage of us.

    Merry Christmas Samantha!

  28. Hope I am not too late! Great blog! Oooo, I am horrible at these things, I never stick too them. I have 3 completed manuscripts I really should edit, re-write and get up the nerve to submit. Maybe this coming year…

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