Elaine Ito and Moira Izatt have indeed chosen a powerful theme for our October teaching theme. Many thanks for this clear and meaningful reflection.
1) The Meaning of Mantra
A mantra is a combination of sacred syllables which forms a nucleus of spiritual energy.
This serves as a magnet to attract or a lens to focus spiritual vibrations.
( MANTRAS: Words of Power, Swami Sivananda Radha, p 1)
- Hamsa breath: Practise the Hamsa breath for five minutes.
- How to practice Hamsa Breath:
- Hamsa is a swan. Ham and Sa also represent the in-breath and out-breath. The rhythm of life is breath – inhalation, exhalation; expansion, contraction. Practice of the ham-sa breath will establish a rhythm in harmony with the rhythm of all the life force around you.
- Exhale—mentally repeat Ham. Inhale—mentally repeat Sa.
- Repeat this for a few minutes and then reverse, mentally saying Sa (or So) on exhalation and Ham on inhalation.
- The meaning of Sa-ham is “I am She,” So-ham is “I am He.”
(Hatha Yoga – The Hidden Language, Swami Sivananda Radha, p 199)
- Reflect on your experience of Mantra.
- What is your experience of Mantra in your life on the physical, emotional/mental and spiritual levels?
- What effect does mantra have in your relationships with family or friends?
- What effect does Mantra have in your interactions or pursuits in daily life?
- How has Mantra lifted you up?
2) The Mantra and Harmony
The chanting or recitation of Mantras activates and accelerates the creative spiritual force, promoting harmony in all parts of the human being. The devotee is gradually converted into a living centre of spiritual vibration which is attuned to some other centre of vibration vastly more powerful. This energy can be appropriated and directed for the benefit of the one who uses it and for that of others.
(MANTRAS: Words of Power, Swami Sivananda Radha, p 2)
- Mountain pose: Stand in a space that is sacred to you. Practise the Mountain pose (Tadasana) and ask yourself:
- What is the creative spiritual force within me?
- What does harmony mean to me?
- How have I benefitted from Mantra?
- How have I benefitted others through my practice of Mantra?
- Engage in an everyday act that is sacred to you: Light a candle, follow your breath, have a cup of tea. Read over what you have written and observe the feelings, images, memories or intentions that emerge.
3) Becoming Grounded in Mantra
On the yogic path, you can become grounded in the sacred word – the mantra or the name of God. Your heart is the most precious soil. When the mantra is rooted in the heart, it will spread like a network of nerves throughout all the cells of your body, and the power will become grounded in your body. The mantra influences the consciousness of the cells, spiritualizing your body and also makes the mind more flexible.
(YOGA: A Path To Awareness, Swami Sivananda Radha, p 66)
- Ask yourself: What concepts have taken root in my mind?
Chant for 10 minutes. Write what comes forward for you.
- Ask yourself: Which ideas are my own and which need rooting out?
Chant again for 10 minutes. Write what comes forward for you.
- Move into Plough Pose (halasana) or visualize yourself in the asana. Reflect on the following quotation. Keep the focus on the Mantra while in the asana.
Ploughing the ground of the mind to make it open and receptive is preparation for seeds and future growth. What seeds do you want to plant in your mind? What harvest do you want to produce through your actions?
(The Inner Life of Asanas, Swami Lalitananda, p 75)
- Put the the fourth cakra plate in a prominent position for a fixed length of time. Choose a length of time that is in harmony with what you know about yourself – a day, several days, a week.
Take time during this length of time to chant and reflect on any of the following questions:
- What do I see in the cakra plate?
- What do I feel or hear in the cakra plate?
- What questions do I want to ask?
- What messages am I receiving when I chant?
- What messages am I receiving in my daily life?
- Which senses perceive the messages?
- How does my receptive state of mind come about?
- Recite the mantra for the fourth cakra aloud four times. List the images or phrases speak to you? Chant a mantra of your choice and reflect on one of these phrases that stand out.
- Mantra for the 4th Cakra:
I venerate (revere, render devotional service) this pair of swans which swim in the mind of the great, feeding on the unique honey of the Lotus (heart) that is the opening of understanding. From their chatter comes the development of the eighteen kinds of knowledge, and by using them one acquires all qualities out of defects, just like taking the milk from water.
(Kundalini Yoga for the West, Swami Sivananda Radha, p 301)
- Brainstorm a list of questions related to the Anahata (4th Cakra) Mantra. Choose one. Practise the Hamsa breath and write your reflections. (Or you can use any of the following questions for reflection.)
- What does venerate mean?
- Who is the pair of swans?
- Who are the great?
- What is the unique honey of the heart?
- What are the 18 kinds of knowledge?
- What qualities come out of defects?
- What is the milk of water?
4) Mantra and Healing
Mantras can have a healing effect by releasing the emotions and bringing about a state of calmness and deep relaxation both in the chanter and in anyone listening.
(The Yoga of Healing – Swami Sivananda Radha, p 49)
- Choose a mantra to chant for one mala or a specific period of time. Take time to observe before you begin. Observe the emotions again when you finish.
- Recall a time when your chanting may have contributed to the relaxation or calmness of a listener.
- Keep up the mantra practice for a week and note anything that interferes with your state of harmony, or any hidden roots of conflict which surface.
- What will you do with the remainder of life if health is restored?
- If you have spoken negatively of someone, you can undo the negativity by quickly chanting a mantra and surrounding the person with Light and with the power of the mantra. Ask that your weakness not affect the person and ask to be forgiven.
(The Yoga of Healing, Swami Sivananda Radha, p 51)
- Observe whether there is a time in your week in which you need to do this. Follow up for a few days with a daily practice from the Divine Mother Prayer, “May all my speech and idle talk be Mantra”.
- Note how this practice affects your speech each day.