How chanting led me to my greatest love affair
I was fortunate to learn how to chant through a yoga teacher friend a few years ago and had been practicing it on and off - seeking to feel better than I was, feeling better, then forgetting the practice before remembering what had helped me so much and starting again. Much like learning any new thing, it doesn't matter how many times you fall off - just keep getting back on with the learning when ever you realise.
We used mala beads to count with as a tool to keep focussed, typically there are 108 beads on a strand of mala, some have 54 beads in which you would go through an entire round once then turn around and continue the counting until you reached back to where you started. In this sharing of my journey I won't go into why we count 108 times or explain how to use your mala in more depth, this account of my experience in how chanting activated change in me...
Chanting works through the spoken word, either by speaking the words to yourself or by listening to them. Sound intensively vibrates matter and specific sounds trigger specific frequencies. With mantras you can purposefully alter the state of your vibration and re-balance imbalances.
I learnt though, it's not just in the saying or the listening of the words, the potency of the practice is in the feeling of the words, the syllables, the sounds as energy. As my practice became more solid, I began to feel the emotions the words were stirring in me.
Soon the repetitive action of chanting, the calling again and again of the name of the deity I was invoking became a meditation of sound transference. I noticed the way I felt after my practice compared to when I started and began to journal and already the healing had begun.
My deep desire to feel part of something - to fill the void of the depression that I couldn't seem to lift led me to want for partner to share life with, someone who could fill me up and make me feel better, led me on a journey through chanting. I began feeling into who or what energy I needed to tap into so that I could attract a mate, that would 'fix' what I felt was lacking in me, wouldn't it?
it was the feminine that called me and my learnings led me to Lakshmi - the goddess of abundance and prosperity, of fertility in both both love and business. Lakshmi is golden symbolising the wealth and abundance the bestows and is always depicted with two elephants representing Ganesha - the overcomer of obstacles. So I chanted and prayed to her every day and every night, 'Om Shreem Lakshmi Namaha', bless me with your beauty, your radiance, shower me with your abundance.. I journaled before and after my meditation and chanting to record my experience, which in hindsight was the best ting I could've done. The journalling gave me a foundation to push off from as time went by.
After a short while I began to feel a bit different, like I had a confidant with whom I could share my crazy thoughts and feelings with. I began to ask different questions of myself during my journalling - what was it that I was actually wanting from a partner? Did I need someone to make me feel better? To feel less lonely or to have someone tell me that I was loved? To feel loved and appreciated? To feel accepted..??
As these questions became more deliberate, I felt myself drawn towards another deity, this time it was Saraswati who called me, the goddess of learning and of the spoken word, of poetry and the creative arts.
Saraswati is beautiful, with long brown hair, holding a book representing learning and wisdom, holding a lute representing music and creativity and is always with her swan, representing her gracefulness. So I altered my chanting practice towards calling forth the energy of Sarawati, 'Om Namo Saraswati' I repeated to myself, calling forth the clarity and wisdom I was so desperately seeking.
When my thoughts begun to clear, it became painfully clear of the amount of effort I was doing. I realised I was meditating on trying to feel better, trying to find something or someone who would make it all better..
This came as such a shock to me that I started to give up. I lost interest in the chanting and simply continued with my regular yoga asana and pranayama practice, living in what felt like the shadows so no one would see that I was a failure, a phoney, a yogi who was sharing life practices yet secretly I was so sad inside. I couldn't make myself feel better.
Yogic philosophy talks about the battle within us, of the ego not relinquishing its grip on who we think we are and how things are supposed to be based on the ideals our identity has created throughout our life. My ego was indeed controlling me. In that moment I realised that the battle between me and the depression I was facing has been known as 'the dark night of the soul', the battle between our ego and our true self.
If was to make it through, I needed to fight the good fight.
Out came my beloved and beautiful tarot cards - my crystals, my yogic texts, all of my tool kit of learning to date - what was it that was calling to me now? My ally appeared, in the form of the goddess Durga, the feminine warrior, the protective mother of the universe. She is one of the Hindu faiths most popular deities, a protector of all that is good and harmonious in the world. She is beautiful, powerful and fierce with 8 arms ready to fight evil and rides upon a lion. I prayed to Durga - help me find a resolution to my angst, help me find love, Om Durga-ya Namaha.... I pray to you.
And on it went, between the chanting and the meditating and the asana and the reading - I wrote. I journaled and I let my hand speak for my heart without censoring any of it, sometimes the words came out so fast that they were illegible - like a big vomit on the pages, other times the words were well placed and structured, other times they painted a floaty pattern, like clouds of thoughts drifting through time...
During one evening meditation I awoke from a dreamlike state where a rushing river was near my feet, I fell in and was holding onto the sides of the river trying to not get swept away. Then a calm, gentle voice said 'let go', and I did, and the river took me. Once I stopped struggling, I began to float - in that floating I woke up and tears were streaming down my face.. the clarity I had been searching for came to me and a flame was sparked in my heart - I didn't need an other to feel these emotions, I needed to feel them for myself. Everything I was seeking externally WAS already inside of me!
Of the joy and liberation that occurred - at that moment, joy-filled tears welled in my eyes - 'I' had finally seen 'me'.
I saw ME - the woman who was trying to get my attention, who needed to feel my love and reminded that she was appreciated and that she was accepted and very much deserving of my love. I told her that I would never, ever leave her side and the greatest love affair of my life began.
I began to notice things like how the golden pink morning sunlight would find its way through the window blinds, into my bathroom and anoint my body while I was in the shower... When inspiration had me look up to see a bird soaring overhead so gracefully - and that moment I remember catching my own eye in the mirror, how I stepped closer to my reflection and looked deep into her eyes and told her how much loved her, how proud I was of all of her efforts and how amazing she was. I hugged myself so hard and cried all of the tears of long lost love - for all the times I had ignored her please for my attention and instead sought external comfort rather than comforting myself.
I embraced the woman I had become and from there on, we made love with every thing we touched - from the way we prepared the nourishing meals we fed my body, every yoga class I designed, I did so in full partnership with myself.
The calling forth of the feminine, Shakti. Lakshmi - the bestower of success and intelligence, of worldly enjoyment and liberation. Saraswati - the goddess of learning and the spoken word, of poetry and the creative arts. Durga - the goddess of who is manifest in all creatures as strength and power. I learnt through this process that the three Divine feminine energies I had been praying to were embodied into the one Benevolent Universal Mother, Narayani. Om Namo Narayani - Oh Great Mother, I surrender to you - thank you for this gift!!
People around me had started to ask what was different about me, was I dating some one? I remember answering once - yes - I am, I'm dating myself! I felt so full of my own love and appreciation and acceptance that I had forgotten that I was looking for any one else to make me feel this way. Everything I needed was really within in me the whole time..
Om Namo Narayani, I surrender to you.