In my last post, I mentioned I am switching up the way I do things and will now focus on a monthly yoga theme, rather than a weekly theme. As I’ve learned myself the past couple of months, it takes time to incorporate certain things as permanent parts of our lives, and I feel that many of the topics we’ve been exploring lately deserve more than a week from each of us in order to ingrain them into our entire being.
For those of you who come to my yoga classes, you know that I always incorporate whatever the theme is into class, but that doesn’t mean we will be doing the exact same thing in each class throughout the month. There is always more than one way to “skin the cat”, so to speak, so my hope is to give you a different practice each time that helps set the theme into your heart and into your life more permanently.
All that being said, I felt like for the month of September, our focus should be on SLOWING DOWN. After all, many of us have been overly busy this summer, wouldn’t you say? Many of you might say, “Well, I took a vacation this summer!” But think about it carefully…did you really take a VACATION, or did you spend that time traveling all over the place, rushing from one tourist spot to the next? In my mind, unless you actually get the downtime your body and mind so desperately need periodically, then it doesn’t REALLY count.
Also, school is now back in session for the kiddos (or maybe even for ourselves, for that matter), so many of us are super busy trying to get kids acclimated to new teachers, shuttling them between one activity and the next, and trying to adapt to whatever new schedule changes all this means in our lives. It can be CRAZY!
As I mentioned in an earlier post, summer is the season where the fire element dominates. And as we are now nearing the end of summer (Can you BELIEVE that?? Fall officially begins on September 22nd!), you may really be noticing the effects of all that fire if you haven’t been able to truly relax and let go a little bit throughout the summer. As I mentioned in that post, I said I needed to get back to regular meditation, and I have been very diligent about it. This is also a topic many of you have said you want to know more about, and you’ve also told me that it’s very difficult for you to establish a meditation practice because it’s SO HARD to sit still and focus. Meditation is a wonderful tool to use if you want to get better at slowing down because it helps you get better at focusing on what is important and ignoring all the “noise”.
As I’ve been making my way through the 21-Day Meditation Challenge being offered by the Chopra Meditation Center, I’ve really seen my meditation practice evolve and grow in such an amazing way! It incorporates guided meditation, mantras and journaling…and I must say, I love this format! It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for, and I love going back and looking at my journal entries to see what my thoughts were on the day I did the meditation. And the mantras…I can’t say enough about how I love the way saying them out loud and repeating them makes me feel! Even just simply humming (think about trying to make yourself sound like a bee buzzing around) is amazingly therapeutic. The vibrations from the sounds of the Sanskrit mantras I’ve been using are so healing for our bodies and our minds! Even just repeating them silently in my head does wonders for calming my “monkey mind”, which I usually have such a hard time controlling.
Throughout the month of September, try incorporating a little bit of mantra meditation into your day. You could simply choose a short phrase that is meaningful to you and repeat it aloud if you want to experience the effect of their vibrations, or you can repeat it silently to yourself to see if helps you stay focused…or do both! That’s what I have been doing and I love it!
Not sure where to start? You can always Google for a mantra that resonates with you, and you certainly don’t have to choose a Sanskrit one. I love the Sanskrit mantras, because the way they are strung together was done on purpose…the vibration and frequency of each mantra is meant to help your mind and body achieve a particular purpose (i.e., happiness, relaxation, motivation, etc.). If you’re not sure how to pronounce the words, you can find many of them on YouTube…I like using this as a resource, because many times, I find versions that make them sound more like songs, and I love music! Here are some of the Sanskrit mantras I’ve been using…I have been focusing on improving my level of happiness, so I chose mantras geared around that theme:
- OM. Now this is one you probably all know, as it’s chanted at the beginning or end of many yoga classes. It’s usually the first Sanskrit word we learn, and it’s the easiest one to incorporate. OM is the sound of the universe. It’s said to be the first, original vibration, representing the birth, death and re-birth process. It’s awesome for helping you to chill out and relax!
- LOKAH SAMASTAH SUKHINO BHAVANTU. The translation of this mantra is, “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.” This mantra is thought to encourage cooperation, compassion and living in harmony with everything around us. I learned this particular mantra when I was doing my Level 4 YogaFit Teacher Training, and the tune that we chanted it to in that training is the one I still use today, all these years later. I’ve heard so many “tunes” for this chant…some of them I love and some I don’t. Maybe because of the original tune I learned, I am a bit partial to versions that sound like that.
- LILA HUM. The translation of this is, “I am filled with the playfulness of life at the basis of all creation.” This mantra helps to remind us that life springs from play, light, freedom and joy…to relax a bit on the rules and responsibility and enjoy life!
- SHREE RAM. I am not sure of the exact translation of this one to be honest. It’s one of the ones from the 21-Day Meditation Challenge, and it combines the energy of Shree, which is divine joy, auspiciousness and abundance, with the energy of Ram, a mantra which strongly draws those divine qualities directly into the physical body and into the emotions. It has the effect of creating a surge of bliss. Traditionally, it is also considered a powerful healing mantra for a variety of physical conditions.
Do any of you already incorporate mantras into your lives regularly? If so, I’d love to get your feedback on the following:
- How often do you incorporate mantras? Daily, weekly, etc.?
- Do you chant them aloud, or silently, or both?
- How does using mantras make you feel? In other words, can you feel a difference at all by using them?
- What are some of your favorite mantras?
Take this month to try and quell the fire that may have built within you over the summer by SLOWING DOWN. Incorporating mantras may be just the thing you need to help you do that successfully. But if mantra practice doesn’t resonate with you, find any form of meditation that WILL help you slow down and enjoy life a little. Find your happiness!