The Subtle Side-Effects of a Chanting Practice March 02, 2016 15:00

Everything we are, and everything that is, is vibration.  All sentient beings and all inanimate objects in the cosmos are teeming expressions of vibrational flow.  When this flow is disturbed or disrupted, disharmony is the result.  A mantra or chanting practice can help restore harmony and balance again by kneading the cells of the body with sound. One of the best ways to recalibrate and reboot your own system is through a regular practice of chanting Sanskrit mantra.

I've been practicing forty-day sadhanas with various mantras over the course of the last two years, and upon reflecting on this practice, I've noticed some interesting side-effects.

* Increased Presence

I'm finding it's much easier to stay in the present moment.  This can be both a blessing and a curse. For example, I'm not writing nearly as many lists on Post-it notes, and I'm not as caught up in the trance of future thinking--the endless streams of  "I have to do this," and "I have to do that," etc.

However, I'm finding that I immerse myself completely in the most mundane tasks.  I'm totally engaged in loading the dishwasher or flossing my teeth, and time slips away from me.  Last week, I spent twenty minutes in the produce section at Target--totally mesmerized by the colors, shapes, and smells of fruits and veggies, as if it were an art exhibit at the IMA.

*Managing Difficult Emotions

When anger, frustration, fear, resentment, and general crankiness rise to the surface, I'm able to stay with these unpleasant feelings for longer periods of time  without casting judgment or pushing them away. I can sit (stand, walk, or drive) with them with an objective heart and mind--simply noticing and holding space for these feelings--until they dissipate on their own.

This morning as I was driving to school, a man in an old pick-up truck tailgated me all the way down Morgantown Rd. Every time I glanced in my rear view mirror, he made various aggressive hand gestures, clearly indicating his disapproval of me driving the speed limit. Instead of responding with equal and opposite frustration, though, I remained calm and focused, and when he barreled past me across the double line, I didn't take it personally, and I didn't feel the need to speed up and chase after him, which is evidence of significant growth for me.

*New Teachers and Adventures

 One of the most pleasant side-effects of my mantra practice is that it has been sending new teachers and adventures my way.  I've met amazingly creative,supportive,and nourishing people outside my usual circles who have helped me learn and grow in so many ways.  They've helped me stretch beyond my comfort zones, offering guidance and encouragement at just the right time.

For a long time, I've wanted to visit the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington, Indiana, and in the last few months, I've visited several times, attending various pujas, lectures, and events there.The monks have been very kind and warm-hearted, and their welcoming and open spirits have been both inspirational and refreshing.

In addition to honoring the Divine that dwells within, I've found that the heart of a regular mantra practice also includes elevating your vibrational frequencies.  Each forty-day sadhana brings new experiences and insights, and each spiritual formula has its own unique lessons to teach.  I'm looking forward to exploring the treasures that dwell in the next Sanskrit mantra.