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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mantra and Meditation

10/9/11 Sunday Mediation based on Patanjali's Yoga Sutras
Chitra Jessica Sunshine
Starseed Yoga and Wellness of Montclair, NJ

Hari OM call/response opening chant.

Firstly, chanting mantras is not singing.  Rather is it emphatic speaking, or moving the breath with sound.  Anyone can do it.  Mantras are sound syllables representing aspects of the Divine.  Yoga began as an oral tradition so we do not know exactly when it started because the information was passed down from teacher directly to student, usually in the form of a guru/disciple relationship.  Yogis began recording history between 2,000-5,000 years ago, and it has been discussed that thousands of years ago when sages came out of meditation they would write down their experience with the Divine in the form of mantras (sound) and yantras (visual).  Everything is vibrating.  The mantras are sound formulas that uplift the spirit and remove suffering.  They are the subtle vibratory essence of things presented as sounds that can be repeated.  The sound formulas' fundamental benefit derives from their vibration.  Group chanting is called Kirtan and is usually performed in a call/response style with one yogi leading and the group joining in when instructed.  This style of Yoga is called Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of Devotion.

OM is the most popular and widely used mantra.  It is a primodial sound which represents all of creation.  It is found in many but not all mantras.  Some examples of mantras:  OM, OM Mani Padme Hum, OM Shanti, Hari OM, OM Namah Sivaya.  Pick one and stick to it, then watch how powerful it becomes.  Practice repeating your mantra throughout the day.  Some yogis say their mantra every time they walk through a doorway, or whenever they see an alter.  In a way, it helps us, pause, change the channel to direct our focus to a place that is peaceful, clear, and one-pointed.

Pratipaksha Bhavana - Change the Channel
What do you do when you are listening to the radio and a song comes on that you do not like?  You change the channel!  The mind can be played the same way.  When a thought enters your mind and it upsets your peace, change the channel, change your thoughts.  You have control.  It is a tool that requires skill and the more we use it, the better at it we become.  Immediately take the mind to an elevated place; focus the attention on thoughts that can counter-act the negativity.  Turn hate into love; anger into peace; greed into contentment.  It is not supression, rather, it is uplifting the mind.  Know that it is the mind that gets disturbed and the body that ages; the soul is always blissful.

Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2.33  When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite (positive) ones should be thought of.  This is pratipaksha bhavana.

In this sutra, Patanjali identifies two invaluable techniques for a maintaining a calm mind:  a remedy and a preventative.  It is a remedy to take when in the midst of the negative episode and a preventative that immuinzes the mind from their recurrence.  Mantra meditation is a great example of pratipaksha bhavana.  Literally, you uplift your spirit when you repeat your mantra. Perhaps, you pause, take a breath and say your mantra.  Try it right now.  Close your eyes for three deep breaths, and on the exhale say OM Shanti.  After using over time, a mantra's healing and uplifting effects grow stronger.  Mantras are intended to be used in a repetitious fashion and it is only natural for their effects to grow with intensity due to regularity.  Find a soothing sound, your favorite peaceful sound, like the ocean waves, a soft melody, or your mantra.  Find a way to make it accessable, and use it as pratipaksha bhavana.

Practice of Deergha Swaasam Pranayama (three part breath) and Nadi Suddhi Pranayama (alternate nostril breathing).  Pranayama is the control or restraint of the life force carried through the breath.  It focuses the mind and calms the nervous system.  Let's get pranified.

Mantra Meditation

नमः शिवय गुरवे
Namah Sivaya Gurave
I offer myself to Lord Shiva, the Auspicious One, who is the True Teacher within and without

सचिदनन्द मुतयै
Satchidananda Moortaye
Who assumes the forms of Reality, Consciousness, and Bliss,

निसपपचय शनतय
Nishprapanchaya Shantaya
Who is never absent and is full of peace,

निरलमबय तेजसे
Niralambaya Tejase
Independent in existence, the vital essence of Illumination. 

Closing Peace Chants
Asaato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityor Maa Amritam Gamaya
Lead us from unreal to Real.
Lead us from darkness to the Light.
Lead us from the fear of death to the knowledge of Immortality.
OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
Lokaah Samastaah Sukhino Bhavantu
May the entire universe be filled with Peace and Joy, Love and Light.

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