This month we are working on our 5th chakra in my yoga teacher training, the chakra at the throat. The 5th chakra is called Vishuddha, which means pure or purification, and is the energy centre in the body that affects the throat, thyroid, rate of metabolism and vocal cords.
WHAT IS THE 5TH CHAKRA & WHY SHOULD YOU CARE
The Vishuddha chakra is responsible for communication and self-expression in writing and speech, truthful and pure relationships, and the ability to surrender personal will to divine will. It governs how we are able to connect our heart towards the Anja Chakra (consciousness). It removes guilt and remorse, jealousy and superiority.
This chakra is the centre related to communication through sound, vibration, self-expression and creativity. It is the realm of consciousness that controls, creates, transmits and receives communication, both within ourselves and between each other. It is the centre of dynamic creativity, of synthesizing old ideas into something new. Its attributes include listening, speaking, writing, chanting and any of the arts – especially those related to sound and language. So yeah, it’s a pretty big deal. Tapping into the 5th chakra energy and altering it can be done through mantra.
WHAT IS MANTRA & JAPA YOGA
“Mantra is a combination of sacred syllables that forms a nucleus of spiritual energy. This serves as a magnet to attract, or a lens to focus spiritual vibrations. Mantra is not prayer. Prayer consists of words of supplication chosen by the spiritual aspirant, whereas mantra is a precise combination of words and sounds, passed down from gurus of ancient times, embodying a particular form of consciousness.” – Mantras, Word of Power by Swami Sivananda Radha
The word mantra in Sanskrit means “the thought that liberates and protects”. The chanting of mantra is said to activate and accelerate the creative spiritual force, promoting harmony in all parts of the human being through vibration. Mantra is a form of meditation as the repetition of the word helps clear the mind of all chatter and incessant thoughts, and allows it to focus on a single point (which is the goal of meditation). Repeating a mantra out loud is called Japa Yoga, but we often just call it chanting.
Chanting produces a series of psychological and spiritual effects. The concentration brings a deep sense of peace and joy, as often arises with other forms of meditation. Through constant repetition of the mantra one becomes like a magnet attracting the spiritual power of the mantra to oneself and become aware of a higher power.
BEGINNING A MANTRA PRACTICE
When you begin a mantra practice you will need to clarify what you want to achieve. This will help you choose the right mantra for you at this particular time in your life. You can find mantras online by googling “mantra for (insert objective)”. Ex: mantras for healing. I really recommend you follow a sanskrit mantra for the aforementioned reasons of vibrational power and because they have been passed down for hundreds of years, accumulating collective power. Once you find a mantra you like, search for it on YouTube so that you can follow it to music and need not worry about counting the number of times you repeat it.
Chant the mantra 108 times or for 11 minutes.
Choose a quiet spot where you will not be disturbed and use it each time facing north or east. Place a wool blanket or yoga mat underneath you. I like to prop myself up on a bolster or cushion to alleviate the pain in my knees while I sit cross legged. You can also sit in a chair with your back straight. The spine must be straight so the energy that is created or stimulated through chanting can flow freely in the body. Rest your hands in your lap with the palms up, suggesting surrender and receptivity to the insights the mantra practice will bring you.
Focus attention on the space between the eyebrows while you chant. Draw the lower abdominal muscles slightly in while chanting to expel the air, and as you breathe in, feel the chest widening.
While you chant, observe the mind – you may be shocked at how easily the mind can be sidetracked or how you get bored. You may doubt the practice or think you sound silly. You have to choose to practice and do your best to surrender to the experience. Resist temptation to change the mantra to another one before the 21-day experience is complete.
In order to keep your mind focused, you can think of all the details of chanting, how the sound is produced, the breathing, or the effect of the sound on the body.
During chanting, emotions may arise that you are unaware of having. Tears may come that you have been holding back for many years. You must use discrimination to recognize tears of self-pity and deny yourself that indulgence. Sometimes tears will be part of regret and part joy – joy that the soul is at last on its way back home, regret that so many lifetimes have been wasted to get there. Symbolically collect your tears, whatever their origin, and offer them to the Divine.
Sit quietly upon completion and remain receptive to how you feel after chanting. You can journal any observations that easily come to mind right after practice.
THE 21 DAY MANTRA CHALLENGE
I am doing 21 days straight of mantra practice. If I miss a day, I have to restart at 0. Are you brave enough to surrender to a new and crazy experience and try it with me?!