Someone once asked the meditation master Swami Muktananda, "Baba, do you think?" He replied, "When I need to."
The mind is a tool but if you are like me, you often misuse it.
~ How often do you find yourself thinking thoughts that don't serve you or those around you?
~ How often do we resolve to change a behavior or reaction to only find yourself triggered once again?
~ What well-worn paths do your thoughts take and what is the background emotion you carry with you?
The path of yoga is a path of self-inquiry, of which asana is a part. When I move mindfully I get to know my body, thoughts and emotions better. With this awareness I then have an opportunity to choose. First we need to be aware of something and accept it. From there we can make the changes we want. There is no point in saying, "I want to go to Chicago", if you have no idea where you are now.
Let's take worry, for example. This one gets a lot of us and is a real peace-killer. So, let's say I notice that I am doing a lot of worrying about a situation. Let's also say that I have done all I need to in order to take care of whatever issue sparked the worry in the first place. Now I simply need my thoughts to quiet down so I can get on with taking effective action. This is where japa comes in.
What is japa? Isn't that a character from Star Wars?! (No, that was Jabba, I think ;-)
Japa is repetition of a sacred sound, name or phrase. Most spiritual traditions have this practice. We become what we repeat and it is through repetition that change takes place. We can see this in our asana practice, our careers, the wearing of stone steps on ancient temples and cathedrals, the pathways of river canyons, the lean in the trees to the prevailing wind.
One of the most sacred mantras in yoga is Om Namah Shivaya and it can be translated as: universal consciousness is one. All ideas of separateness are illusion. This is the meaning of "yoke" or yoga. It is essentially the same meaning as "Namaste" that we say in every yoga class. Repeating this mantra internally (japa) or singing it in a chant (kirtan) opens me up to actually experiencing this awareness, taking it from a philosophical idea to a felt experience.
Register here and come Friday, September 22nd at 7:00pm, to experience the power of this practice together at The Yoga Room. Here is a link to the version we will use. Hope to see you there!