Once I had this amazing idea. I was living in Richmond, Virginia at the time and I found out that for only $250 per year, I could get a permit for a little street food truck. I'm not a professional chef by any means, but I figured I could learn to make something simple and tasty. I was going to set up in the parks on warm summer days and by the bars in the evenings and make some extra cash. But what to make? Suddenly, it hit me - I would make crepes and call my little truck Holy Crepe! How awesome is that? In that moment, the whole vision became clear to me. I could see the little truck, my chalkboard menu, my regular customers...I was so excited.
Can you recall an inspiration like that? A sudden urge that made your heart swell and your mind race with possibilities, that made you temporarily blind to any potential obstacles or difficulties... that's iccha shakti. Translated from Sanskrit, it means "the power of will". It is the initial desire that motivates us into action (the power of action is called kriya shakti).
In yoga, we are often urged to release desires, which are seen as afflictions of the ego. Sometimes this gets interpreted as ignoring or suppressing any and all yearnings or inner drive. But one of the principle definitions of yoga comes from the Bhagavad Gita, which says that yoga is skill in action.
It is impossible to be human and not to act; even choosing to abstain from action is an act unto itself.
Indeed, the word "shakti" means the power to act - it comes from the Sanskrit root shak which means to be able. It refers to our miraculous capacity to imagine and generate things from seeming nothingness. It's the kinetic energy that makes life happen.
So where will this action come from if we renounce all our desires? What will motivate us to get off the comfy couches in our living rooms and in our habituated minds and try something new?
We must distinguish between desires that are no more than the ego's craving, which can never be satisfied, and the soul's genuine desire to create, express, or achieve that is the precursor to inspired action.
Sadly, I never followed through on my food truck idea, so Holy Crepe was never more than a daydream. On one hand, that's fine, because we don't have the resources to pursue every single inspiration that strikes us. On the other hand, who knows what I missed by squashing that particular dream? What friendships could I have formed, skills could I have gained, contributions could I have made to my community?
We all have our favorite excuses that we use to talk ourselves out of pursuing our most exciting dreams...don't let the yogic idea of non-attachment be another excuse.
Remember that iccha shakti is a vital component of the underlying life-force energy that sustains us all and that we are meant to express to its fullest potential. So the next time you get a bolt of inspiration - trust it and ride that shakti wave from inspiration into action!!