Friends, This blog blends Christianity and Yoga, both great traditions.
This pix is of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. They are dear friends.
I Am That I Am
This verse was in a song we sang when I attended church. It quotes a biblical verse that describes All That Is. Whatever or however you name that for yourself.
In the Vedic tradition of ancient India, this same sentiment, "I Am That I Am," is expressed with the words, So Ham. On the inhalation there is a soft sound like So (sah). On the exhalation, Ham (hum) (huh). So Ham. "I am because of this breath." Breath is universal, something all humans and most living creatures share.
This mantra is based on something natural to all of us - the breath. Unlike other mantras that are recited, So Ham is a practice of listening for subtle sounds of quiet breathing. I use it informally: I find it curious to notice that there are subtle sounds accompanying the breath, soft inner sounds that usually miss my radar. You might try it for several breaths. Notice how listening to the inner flow of breath asks that we pay a great deal of attention. If you want to read more about a classic So Ham practice, click here.
A mantra is like a tiny seed. You plant it, then with each repetition you give it attention, you water it. It grows in your mind and with practice it becomes a place to go for comfort or strength. As you repeat it you might recognize a feeling of rootedness in Something Whole or Greater, In All That Is. Feeling rooted as you repeat it rewires the brain to become better at taking in this rootedness as a resource in life.
A practice of mantra is meant to be personally meaningful. It might be words like, "I have something of value to offer." It could be a reminder of Something That Is Changeless Within, to remind us that "I'm not just this ache in my left toe," or "I'm more than this old habit of feeling anxious that I've done something wrong."
Choose word/s that resonate with you right now. Maybe something expresses a confidence that brings you deeper peace, connection and satisfaction. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu identifies with a South African mantra, "Ubuntu." He translates it, "I am because we are." It's also translated as "humanity towards others." Repeating Ubuntu mentally even a few times reminds me of the warmest regard that I have for this great man. A well chosen mantra links your heart/mind to the inspiration within your tradition or draw on something that has touched you in the past.
What we're taking in, nurturing and growing inside can help us ride out stormy times.
Choose a mantra worthy of your life energy.
Practice reciting it, 3 x.
Nurture it by paying attention to what you're repeating.
Notice any good feelings with it.
Take them in as part of the gift.
Come back to it throughout your day.
I wonder if this was interesting or helpful or raised questions or if you have comments. If so I'd love it if you would share them!