For two months now, ten pretty incredible women and myself have been immersed in Yoga Teacher Training. Its been gorgeous, thanks be to our beloved teacher, whom seemingly grows and glows in angelic qualities of giving and wisdom every time we meet.
We’ve studied classic yoga philosophies such as sutras, chakras and bandhas. Reversely we’ve also roamed deep into the body, gaining an anatomical understanding of how our magnificent vehicles move us and perform actions which most of us do without a thought. Oh, and of course we’ve been practicing and teaching yoga poses too, flash carding a variety of delectable ways to serve up anatomical action cues to our future students.
My heart is utterly dipped into this yogic experience, and its going a long way to buffer the grief I work alongside with dad’s recent death. It helps me to bear the pangs of physical and emotional pain the grief excavates from the very cavity of my Being.
Never have I felt so vulnerable and exposed, yet so accepted and Seen in my life. I feel humble yet more confident than ever; broken down yet put back together afterwards with intention and love.
I’m currently reading ‘The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali,’ translated and commentated by Sri Swami Satchidananda. Delving into enlightening and spiritual texts has been a hallmark of my life this decade, but this book is something very special. I think of it as akin to the Yoga Bible, scribed from between 5,000B.C to 300 A.D So many of the sutras (sutra meaning ‘thread’) have taken root deep into my heart, vibrating with resonance, as if re-remembering a dusty forgotten road map for living.
Take Sutra 1.28:-
“To repeat it with reflection upon its meaning is an aid.”
Basically, as almost every religion advocates, take a word and repeat it. This is called a mantra. This sutra says doing so steadies our mind and produces the effect of that word in our life.
“If you repeat “war, war, war,” one day you will be at war. Think “monkey, monkey, monkey,” and probably within a week or two you will be jumping here and there. Yes, “As you think, so you become.” Knowingly and unknowingly, you imbibe the qualities of the thing named.” (page 45, ‘The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali.’)
This wisdom has been echoed down from that distant age to this, through sages and avators and prophets, in all manner of ways and peppered throughout differing cultures. Yet-typical of the human condition- simple truths are often negated in search of more complex answers.
Talking of complex…as is a western human epidemic with turbo-charged lifestyles, I can get myself in a fluster. My mind is often doused in the past or fretting over the future as I muddle through a variety of to-do tasks. Sleep, eat, stress, repeat. So to quell the anxious waters of my mind, I picked the mantra word ‘Peace.’
Its been such a simple thing to invite into daily living. It doesn’t require me to sit and meditate for ten or more minutes, nor attend yoga class, nor memorize a wordy affirmation. All I do is tuck the word ‘Peace’ into my memory bank and go about my day. Whenever I need to invite peace into my moment, I repeat it mentally and watch it pacify stress and restore equilibrium.
For instance, my glucosamine vitamins are nigh as big as my eyeballs: Horse pills. I’d often gag trying to squeeze them down my throat with a glass of water. Now I repeat ‘Peace,’ my throat responds as it expands and relaxes, leaving me enabled to chug them down, retch-free.
Yesterday was one of those frustrating days. You know, you have fifty things to do, yet jobs you expect to do seamlessly take hours, with no end desired effect. It was little things- my blog maintenance work was not going well. I couldn’t even begin to find the technique to steady myself into a core integrated headstand. My cat went missing ahead of his rabies vet appointment.
‘Peace, peace, peace…’ And with those words the slow realization… none of it ultimately matters. None of it I’ll even be worrying about this time next week. I can choose to experience peace in this moment, despite what the external world delivers to my doorstep.
I’ve also noted how my mantra inspires me to do things that generate peace; housework to meditative music on YouTube, diffuse calming oils into my space, breathe not from my chest, but expansively into my ribcage.
Repeating my mantra now I feel my face respond with softness. My jaw relaxes, brain deflates, ears roll back, my pursed lips loosen and the drawn- up wrinkles between my brow drop down and smooth out.
I also send ‘Peace’ -like a gift-wrapped prayer- with my children as they idle into school, jostling backpacks, or when they bury their heads for sleep and I linger into soft-pillowed cheeks with kisses.
What word would you pick? Perhaps one that invites the desired opposite quality you’re suffering from. If you feel weak, perhaps the word Strong, or if tired, Energized. If self-absorbed, Giving, if complaisant, Grateful, if lonely, Friendship.
Me? I’m sticking with peace. Its serving me too well just now to change:-)
Let me know how your mantra works out!
“Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know more.” ― Confucius