Sat Nam: Truth is my Identity. I say this to myself countless times a day to direct my mind to focus on what is essential in this moment – not what I have forgotten to do, am annoyed by, or find hard to tolerate. Sometimes I add a breath to the mantra which I recite mentally. Try it a few times: Take a long inhale thinking “Sat,” suspend the breath for a moment, then exhale completely thinking Nam. Repeat.
Focusing on a mantra helps us cut through our automatic thoughts and momentarily choose a state of being that is neutral, non judgmental of ourself and others, and open to possibilities.
Our automatic thoughts create patterns in our lives. For example, if we walk around with negative thinking (as many people do) such as “I am worthless” or “Life sucks,” we tend to initiate interactions with others feeling inferior or less confident. They respond to what we project and may feel less sure about connecting with us. Over time, this can lead to interactions and relationships which are unsatisfying.
When we take a moment to chant (or think) a mantra with all our mental focus, we cannot simultaneously be in our old thinking patterns. In kundalini yoga classes, we add a rhythmic breath, hand position or movement to the mantra, and begin to break our mental attachment to circular thoughts by deliberately creating a sensory overload.
Try as you might, you just can’t keep thinking “I have no friends” and breathe, chant and move your body in a rhythm at the same time. You have to abandon the old thought at least for a few seconds at a time. Those few seconds are all you need to start fresh.
Our mind leaves the negative thought created from past experiences and comes into the present moment.
This calms the nervous system. When you are calm and open, possibilities become clearer and connecting with others feels less scary.
Then we can begin to experiment with thoughts that are kinder such as “In this moment I am safe,” or I am a caring person” or (my favorite) “Everything is already ok.” The beautiful thing is, you then get to decide which thought to focus on.
Everything in the world makes a sound. The question is: Who is in charge of the sound? Reciting mantra helps you vibrate the sound of your own voice in the present moment.
Using ancient sound technology in the form of mantra in Sanskrit or Gurmukhi, chanting mantra has the following benefits:
1. Stimulates the vagus nerve to relax the nervous system.
2. Helps the mind focus on a neutral, uplifting meaning.
3. The tongue touches meridian points in the upper palate which correspond to the brain and glandular system which can create a state of emotional wellbeing.
4. The act of meditation activates the frontal lobe of the brain which controls emotional stability and compassion for ourselves and others.
5. The vibration itself creates chemical changes in the brain which feel good, even blissful.
6. From a spiritual perspective, chanting helps us align with the Divine in ourselves and in the universe.
Check out the website www.spiritvoyage.com to download samples of music, mantra and meditations in the kundalini yoga tradition.
I would recemmend Snatam Kaur or GuruGanesha’s music, and the Miracle Mantra series from Gurucharan Khalsa.
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