Kundalini Yoga! Join the upcoming online session this Friday!! Sept 18th the first 10 people to follow @lookwithin.kundalini.yoga will get free pass this week and your love donations are always welcomed!
I’ll also be giving a discount on Kundalini Cube Shirts for anyone that joins the class! Get your yoga mats ready!
I can imagine being in a national pageant is filled with pressure and expectations of others how do you handle that mentally and physically?
Yes, preparing for a national pageant can definitely be stressful. But I know that whatever happens, win or lose, it’s all a part of the journey. Preparing for the pageant is about becoming the best version of myself. Every day I do something to better myself, not just for the pageant but for my life. I use meditation to align and become more present. Being present helps soothe my anxiety because I’m not overwhelmed with thoughts about the future. I also love Buti yoga. It’s a form of yoga that includes dance and tribal movement. It’s faster pace, leaving no room for thoughts. You must be present. We listen to really great music and you’re just in the moment. Looking at your body in the mirror and appreciating your curves, it’s a real confidence booster! You’re able to get out of the mind and into the body.
When you focus within, you’re able to see that life is about the journey then you’re able to relieve yourself of any pressure and expectations.
Is it easy living a life to prioritize travel? I can imagine maintaining it consistency could be difficult.
I love this question! I’m kind of lucky, well I’m really lucky because my father has worked in the airline industry for over twenty years. This has alleviated a huge part of the financial burden of traveling. I’ve been traveling the world with my family since a very young age. I was born into this lifestyle. But anyone can make traveling a priority. It’s all about your mindset. People think that it’s so expensive to travel and it can be but it doesn’t have to be. I like to use saving apps, that save money for me every time I spend. After a few months, I’ll have like $500 saved. That’s a trip to Barbados right there! Google flight tracker allows you to see the best time to purchase a ticket. You have to save, do your research, keep your passport current and be open to new experiences.
What Gil Scott Heron song have you learned a life lesson from and what’s the title?
The revolution will not be televised.
The word revolution means a radical and pervasive change in society and the social structure, especially one made suddenly and often accompanied by violence. A couple years ago watched a documentary on the Black Panthers. The Black Panthers were on the brink of a Black American Revolution. That kind of radical impact is why the government had to take them out. They were going to change society as we know it today, and they scarified their lives for movement just like King, Malcolm X, Mandala and so many other black heroes .
I love when Heron says, “the revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.” In this social media age there will come a day when we can no longer sit behind a screen. We will have to go out into the world and become the change we want to see. Don’t get me wrong, social media is a powerful tool but there will come a time, that something will hit you so deep that you will have to do more than post about it. I now have that urge. I’ve been moved to do more in my community. We control our destiny but we have to take action.
Have you had any profound life changing dreams that you remember?
I’ve definitely had some profound dreams. Once I had a dream that I was in this huge crowd of people. There was a huge stage in front and I was scheduled to perform. The MC was calling my name, asking me to come to stage. As I tried to make way to the front, people in the crowd kept stopping me, they were cheering me on, trying to take selfies and at the same time handing me drugs and alcohol. I’m just smiling and laughing, posing for selfies. Meanwhile, the MC says “well, I guess Jamila couldn’t make it tonight.” Immediately, I drop everything and try to run to the stage but its too late. This dream was a real wake up call. It caused me to realize that impact that distractions was having on my life at the time. That dream shook me to my core. It made me realize that if I truly wanted success, I couldn’t be stuck in the crowd allowing myself to be enticed by substances or so called “fame.”
How has yoga been a benefit to your diet and vice versa?
Yoga is the union of mind, body and spirit. Once you’re awaken in one aspect of your life, everything else aligns with that. Yoga helped me gain the awareness that what I eat ultimately affects my karma, as well as my emotions and vibration. I was a strict vegan for two years. I was trying so hard to stick to the label of “vegan” that it was having a detrimental impact on my body. One day, I fainted face first on the pavement. It’s funny because at that time I thought I was so “woke,” but I wasn’t paying any attention to all processed vegan junk food I was eating. And all the restrictions were making me miserable.
Now days, I eat what I want to eat when I want to eat it lol. I bless the food and think about the sacrifice that was made. I believe God put animals on this earth to help support and sustain mankind. However, the evolution of the meat industry is destroying our environment and treating animals in cruel and torturous ways. When we consume animals in that way it has negative consequences. There’s an energetic transfer of trauma and fear. I’m very conscious of the type of meat I consume, its either Kosher and Halal. But I actually thoroughly enjoy living a plant-based lifestyle – consider myself vegan-ish. Keeping some vegan principles makes me more aware and creative just like yoga.
What was your first memory ever?
One of my very first memories is being at my Grandma’s house in Cleveland. I was probably about four or five. Grandma picked us up from the airport. While in the car, she asked me and my sister what we wanted for dinner. My sister shouted pizza at the same time I requested Chinese food. My grandma was so sweet. She would take us to get both. That’s one of my first and favorite memories. At that age I was my true authentic self at all times – 100% carefree black girl! Which is something that I now strive for, back then it was so simple. Back then, I didn’t worry about being “nice” or “polite.” In Minnesota, we have something called “Minnesota nice.” It’s actually terrible because it causes people to be very passive aggressive. Everyone beats around bush in an effort to be polite. My grandma taught us to be direct and say exactly what you want. You don’t have to compromise.
Do you feel as if the natural body can be fashionable? If so elaborate on how you can create your own style within the skin your in.
I think one of the best people that shows us how to do that is Rihanna and I love watching her transformation. Her body has changed a lot over the years from really skinny to super curvy. You see her confidence at every stage. Her style has evolved as her body has evolved. She’s truly a fashion icon!
I absolutely love my body now but when I was younger I struggled a lot. I was super skinny and pretty flat chested. I can’t believe I’m admitting this but in middle school I would wear two bras to make them look bigger haha. My mom, sister and aunt on the other hand had these huge boobs. Here I am thinking when are mine going to come in like that. Eventually I got them but they’re still far from “huge.” When I saw women on TV with big breasts, I thought “they’ve probably had boob jobs, I’ll get one too when I have the money.” But then at some point I had to think, “who am I doing this for? Will having bigger breasts actually make me happy or am I trying to make the world happy with my physical appearance? ” My fav, Tyra Banks would always talk about her big boobs and how she was often felt restricted [with them]. Tyra always says “ I can’t go to the mall in just like a T-shirt and no bra and I can’t wear cute little v-cut shirts” As I got older, I started to realize that small breasts can be really sexy. I found different styles and cuts that looked really really good on me. It’s about accepting the way God made you and finding what works for you!
A flower requires sunshine to blossom, what do you require to?
I require sunshine as well! Good health and positive relationships. Above all, blossoming requires self love! Everyone talks about self-love, but what about actually falling in love with yourself? We’re constantly comparing ourselves. We’re thinking “that girl is prettier, she’s got six pack, she’s better at yoga.” I think self-love comes from admiring your unique qualities, developing your unique skills and falling in love with yourself because you know you got it going on! Personally, I had look at how I fall in love with others. I look at all of the wonderful things about that person, even their flaws are special. I accept them completely without judgment. So why can’t I have that same unconditional love for myself?
I show myself love by admiring my beauty in the mirror (with or without a face full of makeup), telling myself that I’m amazing, kind, and smart. I show myself love with self-care. Taking long relaxing baths, taking care of my appearance, cleaning my room, eating a nice healthy meal – that’s self-love! When you have self-love, you have an inner glow about you. People can feel it when you walk into the room.
Life is an art form how is your masterpiece coming together, what materials and colors are you using and do you feel as if it is close to completion?
I am using every color of the rainbow! I love vibrant colors. I think that they’re the most divine expression of godliness. My masterpiece is more of a collage, documenting my soul’s journey in this human experience. There are many ups and downs, twists and turns, each one adds to my masterpiece – making it even more intricate and wonderful. As I document and share it with the world through my modeling, travel and yoga pictures, people are able to witness the life I’m creating. It will be cool to see how everything comes. I have a lot of moving pieces. I’m a yogi/lawyer/model/entrepreneur/pageant queen lol. I think when people are able to see it all come together right before their eyes, they’ll be able to appreciate the journey in the same way art work is appreciated. Some will say “WOW OKAY that’s really different and cool! ” and other’s will say “mhmm… that’s interesting, I’m not really sure what to think.” Either way, I think it’s so important to share your journey with others so that they can feel inspired.
Do you have anything else you would like to share with the readers of infocus247?
I’m humbled by the opportunity to share my thoughts with the readers of infocus247. I just want to remind everyone to be gentle with yourself, take it easy and just appreciate the journey. The journey is the fun part! One of my favorite spiritual teachers, Esther Hicks, jokes that if you were to go on vacation, you wouldn’t complain the whole plane ride to your destination. You’d be excited but also relaxed, you’d maybe even look out the window and admire the sunset.
This month, a friend forwarded me a Toronto Star article titled “Loss. Grief. Acceptance. How the ancient Tibetan practice of sound baths brought me peace.” He jokingly wondered why his parents never bothered to give him “sound baths.” I agreed.
Allow me to briefly assume the role of a Tibetan cultural ambassador to inform all who are willing to listen that the practice of sound baths are neither “ancient” nor “Tibetan.”
The scholarly consensus is that “Tibetan” singing bowls and sound baths are a thoroughly Western invention and their alleged Tibetanness a modern myth. There is no credible historical evidence, whatsoever, of Tibetans ever having used singing bowls.
History tells us that these metallic bowls were originally food bowls from North India or Nepal, and today, the bowl has become an object of orientalist fetishization and a star product of the sound bathing industry. These bowls are thus as Tibetan as the white Toronto Star author who bathed in its vibrations. Needless to say, these bowls are as spiritual and sacred to a Tibetan person as the exotic English teacup is for the average North American.
The Tibetan singing bowl doesn’t exist and isn’t real, but the racist mythologization of Tibetan people most definitely is. The singing bowl industry aggressively markets itself as reproducing an “ancient Tibetan ritual.”
This Western practice of essentializing Tibetan culture and capitalizing on that cultural commodification forces marginalized Tibetan refugees into a tricky situation — they get the economic opportunity to sell some metal bowls to fascinated white people but at the cost of being a willing participant in the orientalist imagination of Tibetaness, which in turn causes great cultural trauma and pain to the Tibetan people.
Sound energy enthusiasts tend to blur a variety of New Age beliefs and claim that each “Tibetan singing bowl” has its own “frequency,” “chakra,” “planet,” “energy” and accumulated “psychic history.” Diehard connoisseurs travel across the planet hunting for authentic antique Tibetan singing bowls, which they insist have been infused with “sacred ancient sound technology,” unlike cheap and fraudulent “modern knock offs.”
When confronted about their easily falsifiable claims of Tibetan cultural linkages, you find that “sound healers” often dismiss Tibetan people’s disavowal of knowledge by clinging onto the conspiracy theory that singing bowls are purposely shrouded in secrecy because Tibetans are guarding their ancient sound-based spiritual knowledge from prying outsiders.
They insist there exists a secret lineage of metalworking “shamans” who pass ancient mysteries down through the centuries. This example of wilful white ignorance is so patently absurd, I’m not sure whether I should laugh at its sheer silliness or cry at the exploitation of my cultural heritage by bigoted Westerners.
In the Western imagination, Tibetan identity/brand is largely confined to a mythical, asexual, masculine spiritual figure. In this light, my existence as a queer, fashion-loving, atheist Tibetan woman starts to become disorienting and surreal. Now that I have made these confessions, tell me, do I still qualify as sufficiently “Tibetan” to the orientalist eye?
Western bourgeois fantasies about Tibet and the harmful racial stereotypes they peddle simply have no need for the real Tibet and the suffering my country endures.
The real Tibet is subservient to the myth of Tibet. This myth, however, has real power and it has become the dominant framework through which the West perceives Tibetan political struggle. The myth reduces Tibet to a museum exhibit. The myth conflates the politics of Tibet to a question of the survival of a dying, one-dimensional civilization. The myth prevents Tibet’s political concerns from being taken seriously. The myth invites sentimentalities rather than political expediency. The myth ensures Tibetans never get the institutional and governmental support we tirelessly lobby for.
If you find “sound baths” healing, great! Good for you! But if you can, however, please kindly stop mythologizing and exoticizing Tibetans, and leave us out of your pseudo-scientific New Age nonsense. We are quite preoccupied resisting China’s violent settler colonial rule and fighting to preserve our rich cultural heritage as it is.￼
Detroit is the blackest city in America. And in this black city exists a black-ass yoga studio where you can be your black-ass self. Amina Daniels, the owner and founder, works hard to keep it that way. Live Cycle Delight, located in Detroit’s gentrifying West Village neighborhood, has two spaces: one where the yoga classes take place and the other, a two-floor structure, where she and other instructors teach TRX (total resistance exercises, a specialized form of suspension training that utilizes equipment developed by former U.S. Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick), kettlebell and indoor cycling courses.
Back in November, I decided to do a “Rise and Ride” cycling class, kettlebell, and hot yoga class all in one day. Yeah, I know, I’m crazy but Amina appreciated my drive nonetheless.
I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and took an Uber to my 6:15 a.m. “rise and ride” class, where strapping the biking shoes on to the petals proved to be the toughest part of the hourlong session. Another student helped me set my feet on the petals as if she were teaching a 5-year-old how to ride a bike down the street. Most of the students in the class are regulars and they exchanged greetings as trap music—cuss words, “nigga” and all—blared over the sound system. I liked that. Roughly half of the students were white, but the space didn’t accommodate their sensitivities at the expense of us.
It was 6:15 a.m., and Amina was all business. She said hello when she walked briskly into the room, checked in with everyone and let us know it was time to get started. “Suge” played and Amina took us through a circuit of hills, inclines and sprints. She gave some of us nicknames. Mine was “Brooklyn,” even though I grew up in Detroit.
“Come on Brooklyn!” she yelled as I pushed through the hill portion of the circuit.
As hard as the cycling was, I felt a sense of belonging, as if the gentrifying neighborhood where I was taking this class had something for me. For black people. If you wanna keep it one hundred, the facility is top-notch and you really don’t see too many places like it outside of the white suburbs or in downtown Detroit, which is becoming more hostile to black Detroiters—who make up some 80 percent of the city’s population—by the day.
After the Rise and Ride class, I walked outside in the common area and found several tables with black business owners selling their skincare products. At the front desk, students talked about politics and race. Again, half of the students were white, but the space centered blackness.
I asked Amina how she came up with the idea of combining cycling, TRX, kettlebells and yoga in once space. She said she’d always wanted to create a fitness space in Detroit that was as good as anything in the suburbs, but much of it had to do with not feeling comfortable in predominantly white fitness spaces.
“I always wanted to be a community-centered boutique fitness studio,” she told me. “I spent years driving to places in suburban areas where people didn’t want me to be there and I paid top dollar. People would have an attitude if they needed to move your mat. You can speak to people that wouldn’t speak back to you. I also worked in some of the suburban studios where I took classes and people acted like they didn’t care if you were there or not. We all know what it’s like to be not included. I mean, if you don’t look a certain way, and that’s why fitness should be accessible to all. It shouldn’t be something that is exclusive, and we all should be able to have access to a place that’s nice.”
By the way, Live Cycle Delight is ridiculously affordable. You can pay $999 for a full year and take unlimited classes. (there are other affordable payment options, of course.) By any measure, that’s a great deal. I pay $139.99 per month just for yoga classes at my Brooklyn studio.
Many of the students, whose ages range from early 20s to 60s, attended black schools. Amina, also a Detroit native, finished Clark Atlanta University in January of 2008. She didn’t run track in college, but she did compete in the 100 and 200 meters in AAU and USATF. After graduation, she moved to New York City, where she lived for six years, managing flagship retail stores and launching a podcast network.
She grew tired of the retail market, though. Opportunities eluded her. People she brought into the company were promoted over her. As the only senior-level manager of color who was black, she felt isolated and wanted a change. Her friends back home told her that there were programs in the city for entrepreneurs like her.
So, in August 2013, she packed her rental car and drove to Detroit with a friend.
“I just said that I was going to open up a fitness studio in Detroit with my meager 401(k), and I was going to make it happen,” she told me.
She started working at LA Fitness in nearby Royal Oak to get a better understanding of the fitness landscape. Then, a setback happened. Two months after moving back home, Amina was struck by a car while biking through Detroit’s Midtown, having gotten used to biking in New York City instead of taking the train. She spent the next two and a half years in and out of physical therapy, including three surgeries on her ankle.
“I’ve had my Achilles repaired,” she said. “I’ve had hardware put in, I’ve had hardware removed. I have a non-working patella, and I still need another ankle surgery. However, I don’t really have time for that. So I do a lot of yoga and acupuncture. And so while I was in and out of physical therapy, I was working. I got another job being a store manager of the Motown Museum, although that’s not what I wanted to do. But then when I needed to have another surgery, I wasn’t able to work.”
Sadhguru shares some pyramid myths while also explaining the science behind the pyramid structure and how it affects prana.
Yogi, mystic and visionary, Sadhguru is a spiritual master with a difference. An arresting blend of profundity and pragmatism, his life and work serves as a reminder that yoga is a contemporary science, vitally relevant to our times.
“…The darkest man is here the most highly esteemed and considered better than the others who are not so dark. Let me add that in very truth these people portray and depict their gods and their idols black and their devils white as snow. For they say that God and all the saints are black and the devils are all white. That is why they portray them as I have described.” – Marco Polo,after visiting the Pandyan Kingdom in 1288
More than a thousand years before the foundations of Greece and Rome, proud and industrious Black men and women known as the Dravidian erected a powerful civilization in the Indus Valley. From those origins, African Kings in India drove the region’s commerce, culture, and belief systems.
Dr. Clyde Winters, author of Afrocentrism: Myth or Science? writes:
“Ethiopians have had very intimate relations with Indians. In fact, in antiquity the Ethiopians ruled much of India. These Ethiopians were called the Naga. It was the Naga who created Sanskrit. A reading of ancient Dravidian literature which dates back to 500 BC, gives us considerable information on the Naga. In Indian tradition the Naga won central India from the Villavar (bowmen) and Minavar (fishermen).”
He goes on to say “The Naga were great seamen who ruled much of India, Sri Lanka and Burma. To the Aryans they described as half man and snake. The Tamil knew them as warlike people who used the bow and noose. The earliest mention of the Naga, appear in the Ramayana , they are also mentioned in the Mahabharata. In the Mahabharata we discover that the Naga had the capital city in the Dekkan, and other cities spread between the Jumna and Ganges as early as 1300 BC. The Dravidian classic, the Chilappathikaram made it clear that the first great kingdom of India was Naganadu.
The Naga probably came from Kush-Punt/Ethiopia since the Puntites were the greatest sailors of the ancient world, and in the Kemetic inscriptions there is mention of the Puntite ports of Outculit, Hamesu and Tekaru, which corresponds to Adulis, Hamasen and Tigre.”
Even the legends of India revere the Black race that laid the foundation of their civilization, and the holiest books of India also affirm that enlightenment came from Ethiopia ((The first God of India was a dreadlocked black man called Shiva.)
Mantra Yoga: Mantra practice is a central aspect of traditional Yoga. Following are 13 practical tips on how to use a mantra or sacred word. These suggestions are general in nature and should apply to most any use of mantra.
13 Tips on Mantra in Yoga Meditation, Vedanta, and Tantra
(More YouTube videos by Swami J)
Opposites can both be useful: Mantra japa (repeating or remembering mantra) can seem a bit complex when we ask what one should or should not do, or what is right versus wrong to do. Actually, two seemingly opposite practices can both be useful, with one simply being subtler than the other, or having a greater tendency to lead attention inward. One method may be a starting place that naturally evolves into the other.
Two ends of a spectrum: All of the descriptions below contrast one pole of a spectrum with the other (external-internal or gross-subtle). In this way, the practices can easily be compared, while seeing the relative value of one versus the other. One form of practice might be useful at one stage, and the other more useful later on.
Contents of this web page:
Parrot-like repetition and repetition with feeling
Chanting mantra aloud or internally
With willpower or repeating itself
Repeating fast or at its own speed
Counting mantras or not counting
With mala or counting beads, or without
Mantra as word, feeling, awareness, or silence
As a name of God
Whether or not to allow mantra to lead to silence
Speaking/reciting or listening/remembering
Pushing away thoughts or allowing them to flow
Japa as reciting or listening
Ajapa japa as automatic reciting or awareness
See also these web pages:
Japa and Ajapa-Japa with mantra
Mantra, brain, and word
OM and 7 methods of practice
Universal seed mantras: The foundational, primary sounds are called seed or bija vibrations in Sanskrit. Such universal sounds can also be called basal, prime, primordial, essential or basic sound vibrations, as well as other descriptive names.
• Om is such a sound, especially when focusing on the Mmmmm… sound vibration, which is somewhat like mentally remembering the sound of a buzzing bee. Both inhalation and exhalation might be done smoothly and slowly, while remembering that Mmmm… sound mentally. Om Mantra can be used as a seed vibration alone, or along with deeper meanings.
• Soham is a universal mantra vibration, with Sooo… being remembered with inhalation and Hummm… being remembered with exhalation.
• Ahhh… can be remembered with inhalation and Ummmm… remembered with exhalation.
• Many other such sound vibrations can also be used, whether or not coordinated with breath. For example, any of the single-syllable vowel sounds can be used, with or without an Mmmm… sound at the end.
It is the practice itself that will convince one of the viability of such universal sound vibrations as means of relieving the autonomic nervous system, while calming and focusing the mind. Mantra practice like this will prepare the mind for deeper meditation beyond the syllables of the mantras.
Longer mantras: There are many longer mantras in many languages. Some are like positive affirmations and some are for specific, desired benefits. Some are related to religions, and some are not. The principles of using mantra that are listed below are universal, applying to all of the many types of mantras.
Compact prayer: Some mantras can be described is as short, compact prayers. One can easily think of examples where a particular sentence or phrase from a longer prayer or writing forms a compact prayer or mantra. Once again, the principles below are universal, applying to any of these types of mantra.
repetition with feeling
Repetition with feeling
One can recite a mantra solely as a mental process, somewhat like training a parrot in rote repetition. While this may help train the mind to be one-pointed, it is not nearly as beneficial as reciting the mantra with feeling. Recitation along with feeling is a deeper process that brings greater benefits.
In either case, it is important to note that the use of mantra merely to repress emotions is not the intent. With emotional challenges, mantra can have a stabilizing effect while a person deals with those challenges in other healthy ways as well.
chanting mantra aloud
chanting mantra internally
Chanting mantra aloud can be a very enjoyable and useful process, whether alone or done with a group of people.
After some time that process turns inward, and the chanting is done in the inner silence.
repeating mantra with conscious willpower
allowing mantra to arise and repeat itself
One might initially use willpower to remember the mantra. This training the mind has a centering or balancing effect. (However, it is not a good idea to use mantra to repress, avoid, or escape from other thoughts and emotions.)
Another approach is to sit silently, with attention inward, and allow the mantra to arise and repeat itself. It might take some patience, but this is a subtler practice.
Notice that repeating with willpower is a form of expression, while allowing mantra to arise and repeat itself requires attention. (Expression and attention relate to the indriyas.)
The process of attention is more internal than the process of expression. Also, attention leads to concentration; in turn, concentration leads to meditation; and then, meditation leads to samadhi.
intentionally repeating mantra fast
allowing mantra to come at its own speed
At its own speed
Some practitioners and teachers of mantra recitation intentionally see how fast they can recite the mantra. This can definitely create a groove in the mind for remembering the mantra.
A more advanced or internal practice is to allow the mantra to come at it’s own speed. Over time, the mantra will naturally shift in speed, sometimes moving very fast, faster than the mind might normally be able to recite. At other times, it will naturally move very slowly.
not counting mantras
Counting or not counting
Counting practices can help to focus the mind and create deep impressions that have a stabilizing effect.
A practice where a specific number of mantras is done over an extended period of time (called a purascharna) can be a very beneficial practice in clearing or purifying the mind. For example, one might do 125,000 repetitions over a few months. A larger and longer practice is called a maha-purascharna.
Yet, when counting mantras, awareness might tend to stay more on the surface level due to the external aspect of the counting.
When the counting is set aside, the mantra can more purely shift to a deeper form of meditation, where attention is naturally drawn to the mantra as a single object of focus.
Both practices, counting and not counting, are useful and have their place in sadhana (spiritual practices).
with mala or counting beads
without mala or counting beads
With or without mala
In the beginning of using mantra, it can be beneficial to use mala or counting beads when remembering mantra (mala usually has 108 beads). By getting the physical body involved through the motion of the fingers, it can be much easier for the mind to stay focused.
However, setting aside the mala, disengaging the use of the motion of the body (the karmendriyas) allows the attention to more purely go inward, past body and sensory awareness, following the mantra as it leads you inward.
Both types of practice, with or without mala, are useful and have their place in sadhana (spiritual practices).
as word and meaning
as a feeling
as a constant awareness
as soundless sound / silence
Mantra will naturally move inward through stages, if allowed. It is important to remember this, so as to not unintentionally keep meditation shallow when it is trying to move into deeper peace.
For example, the word shanti means peace or tranquility. The feeling that gradually emerges is more internal and peaceful than is the repetition of the syllables alone. When the syllables drift away, one might then meditate on the feeling of peace itself, which is more subtle. Initially, this feeling might fade quickly, and be resurrected by again remembering the syllables of the mantra.
Gradually, that feeling has fewer breaks or distractions, and becomes a somewhat constant, pervasive awareness.
This eventually leads inward to a deep awareness that is the root of the sound. It somewhat defies description, but as a root of the sound, it is like a soundless sound of the mantra that is resting in silence.
external repetition of the name or mantra
internal remembering of the name or mantra
silent longing for what is behind the name
Mantra as a name of God
Some practitioners use as their mantra a name of God from within their religion, or as given by a teacher.
At first the mantra or name might be used externally through repetition, chanting, or in song.
Or, the name or mantra might be recited or remembered internally.
Then, the name or mantra itself might drift away, as the grosser sound is replaced by a deeper longing or communion for what is behind the name or mantra.
not allowing mantra to “lead” you to silence
allowing mantra to “lead” you to silence
Mantra will lead
Sometimes the mantra is naturally trying to lead attention into silence, and the practitioner thinks that mantra is being forgotten. There may be extra effort to then continue to recite, or internally speak the mantra.
Deeper than this is to allow the mantra to naturally lead attention to its deeper, subtler aspect that rests in the silence.
This leading process can be tricky in practice, as one might just be falling asleep. It requires a bit of practice and attention to notice the difference between drifting off into sleep and going into a deeper, quieter, more clear state of mantra meditation.
This leading quality is one of the most important aspects of mantra practice.
internally “speaking” or “reciting” the mantra
internally “listening to” or “remembering” the mantra
Speaking vs. listening
A good way to understand this dimension is to think of songs you may have heard. Once those sounds are in your mind, they automatically arise, without any effort.
Initially one may internally speak or recite the mantra.
Later, the practice is more like listening to or remembering the mantra, than actively speaking.
One may or may not literally hear an inner sound. It is the mental stance of listening or remembering that is being practiced here. It is somewhat like remembering a person whom you love. The name of the person may come and go in your mind field, but the memory of the person is not dependent on the presence of the name.
(To further understand the significance of the difference between speaking and hearing, see the paper on the indriyas.)
pushing away thoughts with mantra
allowing thoughts to flow through the mind before remembering mantra
Dealing with thoughts
Mantra can unwisely be used to repress ones thinking process. Mantra should not be used to avoid life and dealing with mental and emotional issues. At meditation time, one can easily get into an inner fight between the mantra and the stream of thoughts. This is not the best thing to do.
Better than fighting, is to allow a period of time for inner reflection or internal dialogue to explore and deal with those thoughts and emotions. Then, it is much easier to remember the mantra as it naturally arises in the stream of the mind.
approach that “japa” means reciting mantra
approach that “japa” means listening to mantra
Japa and listening
Some translate the Sanskrit word Japa as reciting or repeating, while others translate Japa as listening or remembering. One is an active process of expressing, while the other is a passive process of paying attention.
These are two different approaches to the use of mantra (mantra japa). The process of actively reciting or repeating is more externally focused, while the process of listening or paying attention is more internally focused.
The active process is easier to practice in the beginning, while the attention process is more internal and advanced.
approach that “ajapa japa” means automatic repetition of mantra
approach that “ajapa japa” means constant awareness of mantra
For the approach whereby mantra japa means actively repeating (noted above), this process might become automatic over time (like spontaneously singing a song you have heard many times). This automatic repetition is one form of the term ajapa japa.
For the approach whereby mantra japa means listening or paying attention, that awareness might gradually become a constant awareness of the underlying feeling associated with the mantra. This is another, subtler form of the term ajapa japa.
Where mantra japa means repetition, then putting a- in front of it means without repetition. Hence, ajapa japa is repetition without repetition (it is automatic).
Where mantra japa means listening or remembering, then ajapa japa means constant remembering without the effort of reciting to cause that awareness.
MAKING YOUR WHOLE BEING AN EAR FOR MANTRA
From: The Art of Joyful Living
My way of using the mantra is different from yours, because I do not want to fool around with the process. I sit down, and I observe my whole being listening to the mantra. I do not remember the mantra or repeat the mantra mentally, because then the mind repeats many things.
Instead I make my whole being an ear to hear the mantra, and the mantra is coming from everywhere. This will not happen to you immediately in meditation, but when you have attained or accomplished something, then this will happen to you. Then, even if you do not want to do your mantra, it is not possible to avoid it. Even if you decide that you do not want to remember the mantra, it will not be possible.
Finally, even the mantra does not exist; only the purpose for which you repeat the mantra is there; you are There. The mantra might still be there, but it exists as an experience that overwhelms your whole being, and is not separate from you.