We've all heard of positive affirmations. Remember that recurring Saturday Night Live Skit "Daily Affirmations" where Stuart Smalley assured us that "I am good enough, I am smart enough and doggonit people like me."
I remember watching that skit as young person, thinking it was silly. Re-watching it as an adult with the age and experience I've gained I still think it's silly but it makes me reflect on how my understanding of how my ideas of self-help and therapy were grounded in a status of satire and farce.
Decades later, I was sitting in a yoga class, and the teacher closed the class with a simple chant of Om. She invited us to chant along with her. I remained silent, fearful that adding my voice would somehow launch me into the satirical world of self-help led by false gurus like Smalley. Of course, my thought wasn't as direct as that, but fear was present.
I can see that fear now as timidity through sharing my voice, through participating in something I did not understand and finding the chanting a little bit strange. I remained silent in that moment, and in many other moments at the end of class when the teacher invited us to chant Om.
Four years ago, I was in my first training with my teacher, Janet Stone, and she ended class with the mantra, "Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu." Many in the class joined in with her, and I sat perplexed at the words, never having heard them before, wondering what they meant, but also resonating with power of this collective sounding of these words. I was intrigued.
As I became more immersed in the Bhakti tradition of yoga—the yoga of devotion—through Janet Stone's trainings and classes, I began to fall in love with every mantra she offered. I began to learn the meanings of the chants, but more important, I began to feel the deep vibrational energy of the chants. Every chant that echoed through the students' voices, reverberated off the walls and into our hearts. All the fear I had once held of lending my voice into the collective slowly began to dissipate. The more I chanted, the freer I felt. The more I found the strength in my voice, the more I could let go and just immerse in the moment.
I began finding myself chanting in the car, in the shower, while washing dishes. It became a part of me. The more I learned, the more I could feel the power of chanting mantra.
Soon I was bringing mantra practice into my own classes. Mantra beyond the Om, though many say Om is the only mantra you really need. And then I bought a harmonium.
The harmonium provided accompaniment for my voice, but also allowed me to play with tunes. It brings a little more resonant sound into the room, so if I'm chanting with a class, those who might feel more timid about joining in, as I did, could feel more encouraged to try out their voices.
Of course, this is all just MY experience. It has nothing to do with yours, except, that I've come to the point where I want to expand my sharing of the mantra practice through a deeper course to offer anyone who is curious to dive in with me.
Meditation through Mantra will run Sept. 15 to Oct. 25, 2020, and we will explore mantra and sound as a meditative practice. We will begin with Om and progress with a new mantra each week. There will be opportunities for discussion, group chanting and lots of education about the Sanskrit words, their intention, their vibrational effect and various ways to practice the mantra. We will have special guidance on producing sounds, and correct pronunciation, and some of the sacred practices and rituals that accompany mantra practice.
Over the six weeks, you will begin to see how mantra practice can easily come into your daily life to bring clarity and focus into the moment.
3 Zoom meetups a week. Two of those will be during the week for about 20 minutes, but specific times have not yet been set. The third will be from 8:15 to 8:45 on Saturday mornings, and this will be Zoomed from the location where I teach my 9 am class. You have the option of meeting in person with me or joining on Zoom. These will all be recorded and uploaded to the online platform where all the material will live, so if you miss a meeting you can catch it there later.
All course content and material will be loaded on the Revolution Yoga School on the Teachable online platform. You will be able to take all the material in at your own pace, and it will be there for you even after the course is finished so you can return to it again and again.
I hope you'll join me for this exploration into mantra practice. I'm looking forward to sharing and learning with you. And, I promise this will be very far removed from anything Stuart Smalley may have offered on SNL, except for enjoyment and contentment.