by Dr. Kausthub Desikachar
Among all of the tools that Yoga has to offer, one of the most intriguing among them is Mantra. Through the history of the Vedic culture and the Yogic tradition, Mantra-s have always played a very significant role in the path of personal transformation and spiritual liberation. Hence an aura of reverence and dignity always surrounds it, even to the present day.
Yet, in its journey from antiquity to modernity, for various reasons known and unknown, it has become limited in its scope and hence in practice. However, in recent times there seems to a renaissance in the openness people have towards its practice, prompting many to seek ways to begin their own personal journey with Mantra-s.
At the same time, it is not uncommon to find people having a certain resistance to embark and sustain this journey, as many forms of fears and questions surface. My own case mirrors such a circumstance.
In my early years as a practitioner of Yoga, I had quiet a severe resistance at the prospect of engaging with Mantra-s. The prospect of listening to my own voice was scary. This was further complicated with the dreadful fear of embarassment. My sister was and still is a fabulous singer with a melodious and powerful voice. My pride feared that when I would open my mouth to sing or chant, I would instantly be compared with her. This apart there were few other reasons that made me run away from the practice of Mantra-s, early on in my life.
Yet as my own journey as a Yoga student deepened, I have come to have a deep sense of appreciation and love for this fascinating form of practice. Not only have I learned to embrace it, but I have also come to respect it with great affection. The practice of Mantra-s has been my greatest ally and support, especially in the darkest period of my life. Using Mantra as an anchor, I have not only realised my limitations, but have also grown significantly to face my demons, make peace with them and carry on forward. In this manner Mantra-s have been, and continue to be a great teacher.
While many technical reasons can be suggested as to why the practice of Mantra-s are so special, I share with you nine simple reasons why you should try it as well.
Whether you are young or old, physically fit or unfit, religious or non-religious: there are really no restrictions for practicing Mantra-s. Even if you have lost your voice, you can repeat the Mantra mentally, and it will still be beneficial to you. For those people who fear religious content, there are always Mantra-s that connect to neutral themes like peace, fearlessness or more neutral symbols like the Sun, Moon etc.
Chanting mantras is fun. It usually makes us feel lighter every time we engage in it. Chanting in a group can also be a strongly bonding experience that connects people and is enjoyable!
Many people stay away from Mantra-s because they had a bad experience with music classes in school. But Mantra-s are different to music. Music has many notes that are combined in an often difficult manner. Mantra-s on the contrary only have three notes. Music is about the performance, the way the music is expressed, therefore it stresses beautiful voices, an orchestra of instruments, etc. Mantras are not about performance or beautiful voices, they are only about the experience the person has while chanting.
When you chant Mantra-s the vibrations produced in the body are usually very elevating. It influences even our unconscious feelings and emotions that are usually suppressed and helps us find a way to let go of them in a subtle manner. They work very deep on our unconscious structures and are able to shift negativity and old patterns without even our realising knowing. That is why chanting is so potent in elevating our spirits.
The Vedic Tradition offers so many different Mantra-s. Some of them are healing mantras that target ailments of body, emotions or mind. Mantra-s also make us feel more at peace and stable, which helps to cope with any disturbance that might arise. We also know that when the mind is calmer the body is usually functioning better, and hence more healthy.
The primary function of the mind is to hold something, to be engaged with something. That is why we cant stop thinking. Most of the days our minds get engaged in stressful things: our job and difficulties in our families or with our friends. If you are stressed you will experience that the same thoughts repeatedly haunt you throughout the day. If you chant Mantra-s your mind will be forced to focus on something else, so you get rest from your other thoughts. Mantra-s carry strong positive energy that will also relieve stress and make you feel positive, strong and calm.
Mantra-s provide energy in the form of syllables. By chanting these syllables we receive energy. A whole chant works in very complex ways on the different layers of our existence. You might experience different effects on a physical level, but also on an emotional or mental level. The great thing about Mantra-s is that you can't always analyse what is happening, as the energetic impact is usually beyond the scope of the mind.
Mantra-s are one of the more subtle tools of Yoga. As we practice them they transform the quality of our mind and hence make us sensitive to more aspects of life. Our senses become more sharper and therefore our observation more subtle. Our mind becomes more clear and therefore our thoughts more refined.
Mantras bring us back to our heart. They take us back to the realm of emotions and deeper feelings. They connect us with that which is residing in the heart and bring us back to a place of peace, serenity and divinity.
Starting April 2014!!!!
Join Dr. Kausthub Desikachar in an online program that provides a platform for serious practitioners to explore this Mantra-s in depth. The program will last for nine months with one meeting each month, through which this theme will be explored in detail. For more information kindly click here.