Completing the Circuit: Adding Variety to a Mantra Practice September 05, 2016 14:03

I’ve been working with the long version of the Gayatri mantra for several months. The Gayatri mantra is a purifying mantra that inspires wisdom and opens the heart and mind. As part of my personal meditation practice, I’ve committed to a purashcharana (purash = next/forward, charana = step/course), and my intention is to reach 125,000 repetitions. I like to take my time, and I like to enjoy the journey rather than fixate on the destination, so I don’t mind that it will take many more months before I complete this practice. I’m enjoying each step, each individual repetition.

However, I like variety, as well, so sometimes, I chant while sitting on a meditation cushion. Sometimes, I chant silently. Sometimes, I write out the mantra in a small notebook. Sometimes, I chant aloud while driving, but my favorite way to practice is to chant while walking.  At the school where I tutor, there’s a track behind the building. If I have enough time between student sessions, I chant a full mala while walking around the track, completing two types of circuits simultaneously—a physical practice, and a spiritual one.

 Om Bhuh Om Bhuvaha Om Swaha Om Maha Om Janaha Om Tapaha Om Satyam

I step into the present moment

warm sun on my skin

 sounds of traffic rushing along I-465

weeds and wildflowers peek through

 diamond shapes of a chain-link fence

I navigate around dried goose poop, a sun-bleached orange cone,

 a discarded sock

 Om Tat Savitur Varenyam Bhargo Dhivasya Dhimahi Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayaat

Blue skies

jagged tree lines

dragonflies hover, then dart away

cicadas grind away the last days of summer

time dissolves

each bead, each step, marks

now ,now, now, now, now

 Om Apo Jyoti Rasomritam Brahmaa Bhur Bhuva Swar Om

Birds chatter from nearby trees

obligations blur as

heat waves rise above faded pavement

idling buses line up along the curb

soreness eases in my shoulders and hips

as rhythms of the mantra merge and loop

 in my mind

On a large scale, purashcharana is an advanced meditation technique that offers intention, dedication, and purpose to my practice (and my life). On a smaller scale, it allows me to head back to my office with a sharp mind and an open heart. It allows me to direct my focus and attention to students who need it, or to tasks that require it. Most importantly, this daily practice allows me to embrace the possibility of transformation that each moment carries.