A slice of my private practice during travel
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In April this year, I gave a retreat on Healing and Mantras at Samadhi Healing Arts in Tennessee. Few people knew that I had myself been going through the hardest time of my life in the preceding months. Healing.
When my host, Rebecca, picked me up at the airport, she had not the slightest idea that I had wept throughout the flights from Austin to the Tri City airport. Of course, I knew how to do this on a flight without others noticing. Most everyone on an airplane make room for the privacy of their fellow passengers.
Memories from childhood trauma had surfaced since last year and I did not know how exactly to handle their intrusions at that time, despite my decades of teaching mantra and spiritual practices at many of the world’s and most famous spiritual centers.
Following is a splice of my private mantra practice
the day after my arrival in Tennessee this April …
In the basement of my host Rebecca’s home, overlooking a forest of tall trees, I iron my clothes that have crumpled from travel for a presentation that evening on mantra healing.
Even though the house is heated, a space heater is necessary in the basement for someone who grew up in the tropics. I tune my drone to the same frequency.
A simple recording device is turned on to share my practice with my students. There is a raw transparency to the recording as result; none of the pro tools I normally have access to.
The practice begins by sensing presence while ironing the soft white cotton cloth of a shirt made in India. There is a presence in the air. A presence in space.
It is out there. in the trees. on the grass. in the sky. it is also in here. within awareness. and within sound. it is within color, within shape. sound brings it all together.
A picture of Chief Seattle adorns the wall.*
He speaks from it, most eloquently, saying:
This we all know that all things are we are all connected. whatever befalls this earth, befalls the sons and daughters of this earth.
Humans did not weave the web of life. Humans are merely a strand in this web. What we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
Every part of this earth is sacred. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore. Every mist in the dark woods, every clearing. every humming insect is holy.
I am conscious of the web of my own life. Of how it has been disrupted by unconscious humans. But this is not a time to analyze. Mantra heals. Mantra restores wholeness.
When using mantra to heal, it is not important not to analyze the wound, who caused it, or how it was caused. And it is important not to repress what one is feeling.
The spirit of Chief Seattle aptly expresses the soul of how deeply connected the Native Indians of the Americas are to the earth. Inspired by them, we can, through mantra, realize that “All is sacred. All is holy.”
One of the words we use to invoke the sadredness of all life is “Shiva”. Shiva means “blessing” and it is that which seeds all of consciousness. And All is consciousness. All is consciousness.
So, together with the hum of the space heater, as we iron our clothes, or whatever it is you are doing, we can chant. om namah Shivaaya. om namah Shivaaya.
Blog continues after the audio …
This holy, five-syllable mantra (aka pañcakṣara because of it) is one of the supreme mantras of healing, enlightenment and transformation. It has served me in my practice for many decades. Here, however, are some key insights.
The receptive form a mantra, often does not cut it for the typically functioning human psyche. Thoughts will intrude. Feelings will distrupt. Images will distract. And so, briefly, we chant a verse from the Rudram. It is not the mantra itself, but the category it belongs to: the Vedic category. This method interrupts that which interrupts.
Vedic mantras, when chanted correctly, and within the flow of devotion, can interrupt the patterns that interrput our wholeness. That is one of the secrets to healing with mantras. There are other factors, too, to be considered. There is however a specific structure and specific traits to Vedic mantras that are important to the therapeutic process.
Having said that, I do not believe that a single category of mantras, such as Vedic mantras, in themselves, can cut it, mean, facilitate healing as a whole. Healing is restoration of wholeness. This is why it requires a holistic approach to sacred sound to restore the wholeness. This holistic approach is embodied in the wholeness of The Yoga of Sound.
I’ve written a book on it, The Yoga of Sound. This approach to sacred sound embraces the scope of sacred sound through four distinct streams that work together. We must bring this scope to bear upon the therapeutic process, I believe, if we are to be doctors of the soul, meaning, we cannot narrow down the therapeutic process to a one size fits all.
When I speak of applying the scope of The Yoga of Sound to the therapeutic process, I do not mean this in some cultish way. I come to this understanding from my own healing process, through first hand knowledge, and using it with others.
It was emotionally quite hard during the time I recorded my practice in TN that you hear above. You may not hear it in my voice, because I share only the best parts of my practice that lasted many hours that morning.
Part of the process of learning how to use mantra for healing has been finding my authentic voice. Many of us use mantras without necessarily paying attention to the quality of the voice saying those mantras. We may not, for instance, be connected to our heart, to our emotions. Making a dramatic show of being connected to our emotions while chanting does not mean we are authentically connected to our emotions. You know what is being implied here, don’t you?
As I write this blog, I am on my way to the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health to offer The Healing Power of Mantra Through Finding Your Authentic Voice. In some ways, I am returning to how I began teaching sacred sound in the west some 30 years ago, when I started introducing words like Nada Yoga when no one knew what it meant.
My work with sacred sound, specifically The Yoga of Sound, has now entered a new phase. I’m awed, and inspired, by this new focus in which healing, enlightenment and transformation work together in the service of higher consciousness. If you would like to be an intimate part of this process, consider joining our upcoming live retreat in Austin, Texas during which I will share my process and method.
Since April, since the time of recording the practice I share with you in the recording above, I have done a lot of transformative work, including intensive work with professional trauma therapists. However, it is really applying mantra in context of The Yoga of Sound that has helped me the most. This is what I wish to share with others.
Today, thanks to the power of mantra, not any old chanting, but the intelligent application of it, that I have come a long way in addressing my own psychological content and learning a heck of lot in the process. Spirituality without some psychology can avoid crucial aspects of self. In emphasizing divinity, we can forget the corner stone: our humanness.
Some of my best insights into using mantra within context of The Yoga of Sound to heal, came from teaching in Holland last month. The Center for Tantra in Holland that invited me is made up largely of therapists who have worked extensively with various human conditions. It was in close collaboration with my co-presenters, Carla Verberk and Remmelt van Kleef, that some of my new insights emerged.
If you would like to learn more about the therapeutic process I am now using, a process that is current yet draws from my studying and teaching mantra for almost 30 years while embracing tradition thousands of years old, you can explore it with me through what I am calling “Recovering Your Golden Child”.
In this new membership, I share not only extended sessions of my private mantra practice, both audio and video, as well as method and knowledge of the why and how to. For the total immersion into sacred sound, there is our annual chanting pilgrimage and meditation retreat in India.
In January 2019, we will immerse ourselves in the healing power of mantra for an entire month. It is not only the sounds themselves, but the environments in which we practice these sounds, that affect us profoundly.
*due to copyright, only licensed images may be used.
In this blog, images are licensed through 123rf.com
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