I was a skeptic.
When I went to Sri Dharma Mittra’s Life of a Yogi Teacher Training, we were taught a Mantra for Purification that we chanted daily.
It didn’t resonate.
Though I stumbled through the mantra, I didn’t know what it meant, I didn’t understand the words, I simply couldn’t connect.
Fast forward a decade. Well, a few years more than that….
Despite what my social media may lead you to believe, it’s been a rough and tough few months around Shana-ville.
Though I do hit my mat every day for a full-on, balls-to-the-wall, hardcore practice–no excuses, no backing down–it has often been a struggle. There are days–and sometimes days on end–when each and every posture feels like a fight against my mind. Some days, my two-hour practice takes three (or more) hours to complete. And though I always, always feel better for having practiced, it hasn’t left me feeling better.
Even harder to admit, when I descended into a particularly low space, meditation and pranayama didn’t help either. Instead, I found my heart steamrolling my mind into a relentless emotional frenzy.
Then there was a day, when out of complete desperation, I decided to chant.
I still didn’t know what the Mantra for Purification meant. I still didn’t understand the words. But that day, I chanted. Slowly, mindfully, loudly. I stopped thinking about the meaning of the Mantra and started feeling the Mantra instead.
I focused on how the words sounded in my head, how they reverberated in my throat, and how they landed in my heart.
I intended to chant it ten times, and then I did 20. And 30. And, honestly, I couldn’t stop.
Because it was working.
When nothing else on earth could stop my tears or quiet my mind, I suddenly–and completely unexpectedly–found my peace.
Since then, there have been days when I use the Mantra to close my asana practice. There are days when I use it to lull me to sleep. And there are days that I chant it for a half-hour or more to regain equilibrium. It truly is the only thing that works for me right now.
To be honest, I don’t know what chanting Mantra does to heal my spirit. I don’t know if it’s mindfulness or magic. I don’t know if it’s the words or the will. All I know is that, for me, it works. And om, my goodness, I couldn’t be more grateful.