05 Aug Mantra: how it helps us find our way to joy
Have you noticed that mantra and kirtan are slowly becoming more popular in yoga studios?
There are so many mindfulness pathways and tools that are now mainstream and meditation lies at the heart of them all. Most of us are familiar with silent meditations but what about mantra? Where does the tradition come from and why is it so powerful? Adam Whiting explains…
Throughout the ages, man has turned to symbols to navigate the vast waters of both the planet and the endless oceans of our minds. We have connected the dots of the stars to create constellations that guide the sailors through the darkness, and we have created beacons of strength, hope and faith that can serve to guide our hearts out of a sometimes deeper darkness.
In yoga, we often turn to the vibrant and numerous gods and goddesses of the tradition. We see murals and murtis of Shiva, Ganesh, Lakshmi or Saraswati on the walls and the shelves of yoga studios around the world. Often taken for granted as cliché interior decoration or space fillers, these deities are ripe with symbolism, stories and lessons that can inspire us to find our own path, our own strength, and our own ability to heal and grow.
This life is embedded in with turbulence and the constant undulations between ecstasy and agony. Whether it is a divine plan created to teach us and guide us to deeper knowing, or it is just the chaos of a heartless universe, we need all of the help we can get to make it through this journey.
What we call on
These deities that we study are symbols of attributes that we yearn to embody in our own lives. The characters and the mantras that we recite and sing are tools that we use to call upon elements of our own beings that might have gone quiet or grown dormant.
Who and why
We chant to the honourable monkey Hanuman when we need to shine a light inside and search for our own faith and the knowledge of our own dharma. We sing to the great elephant Ganesha when the obstacles placed in our path seem too heavy for us to carry on our own. And we call out to the great warrior goddess Durga when we need to slay the divisive illusions of ego and unworthiness and see the truth in ourselves and in our own power.
I chant mantra to steady my mind. I chant mantra to enliven and awaken my own strength. I chant mantra when I am in the darkness. When the mantras resonate in my mind or leap out of my mouth it is like I am sliding my hands up and down a blank wall and finally find the light switch to illuminate my own power, determination and ability to overcome and grow from the hard lessons this life offers us.
We need guides. We need friends. And we need all of the support that we can get to find our way towards the deep joy and contentment that is possible to embody and experience while we are here. The tools of these deities and mantras guide us deeper within ourselves to help us arrive at the deep knowing that peace and contentment isn’t an external achievement, but an internal birthright.
Written by Adam Whiting