I’m trying to practice yoga more regularly, and today in class, the teacher (my favorite at this studio) played this mantra and taught us a mudra to go with it:
It was really beautiful, both the mantra and the mudra, and she told us they (the mantra and the mudra) were about cutting away the ties that bind us to messages, expectations, and other things that we internalize and believe to be true (“you’re too fat,” “you’re too loud,” “you’re not smart enough,” “don’t do that– it’s too risky.”) By doing both the mantra and mudra together, we are actualizing the cutting away process.
I came home and looked up these concepts to better understand what I learned and absorbed during my yoga practice today:
Mantra (according to freedictionary.com): A sacred verbal formula repeated in prayer, meditation, or incantation, such as an invocation of a god, a magic spell, or a syllable or portion of scripture containing mystical potentialities.
Mudra (according to yoga.about.com): A gesture, usually done with the hands, which focuses and directs energy in a yoga pose or meditation.
With mantras, there’s an aspect of sound vibration that affects us physically and spiritually. So even if you don’t understand the words, you recite the mantras over and over and feel the vibration and then absorb that feeling into mind and spirit. I could feel that happening as I said the mantras over and over along with the music making the flow more beautiful.
It reminds me of this experiment I heard about by a Japanese scientist (I looked it up for this blog– his name is Masaru Emoto, and he did these experiments in the 1990s) where he took words with positive and negative feelings, taped them on glasses of water, and then froze the water and looked at their crystals under a microscope. The water that had been exposed to negative words (like “You make me sick, I will kill you”) had irregular crystalline structures and the water that had been exposed to positive words (like “Thank you”) had symmetrical crystalline structures.
There’s some argument about whether his science was real science or not, but I think the idea is interesting– that because we as humans are about 60% water, we are affected by words, thoughts directed at and around us at the water-atomic level.
I do believe when we say things that are loving, caring, warm, sacred, and generous, we become that way. Just as when we say things that are hateful, disrespectful, cold, profane, and selfish, we become that way.
So in the same way that what we say, incant, sing, and chant can vibrate us into joy and happiness, so can what we do with our body. Mudras are gestures that help us connect with our spiritual energy and the universe, and by simple gestures like hands in prayer, thumb and forefinger connected into a circle, we can direct energy through our body and beyond.
This is sounding kind of new age-y, but for me it comes downs to words and actions creating our realities in profound ways. It’s not about just being naively happy and Pollyanna-ish. In fact, I think it’s important to see the world around us with all its beauty and ugliness and be critical where needed and hopeful where needed. And from there I want to take an approach of love and love that attempts to understand how we got here and where we can take things.
What words do we say that pass on vibrations of love and hope? How do we treat our bodies to be open to the traversing of positive flows of energy to and from the universe?