Mantras and the Healing Power of Sound by Kelly Mahoney
I’ll be straight with you. The first time I walked into a yoga class where the teacher was playing a very strange accordion-meets-keyboard situation, singing in Sanskrit, I almost walked out. I came to move my body and try my hand at mindfulness. But this? This was too much. I stayed and by the end of that class, I had tears streaming down my cheeks. Not because it sounded like angels (though, it did) and not because I knew what the words meant (I did not), my whole being was vibrating and experiencing a profound release.
I had felt that feeling before. A nostalgia for the twelve-year-old girl standing in a house of worship singing words of hope and love and light with an entire congregation. The nostalgia for family car rides— music blasting, my entire family singing at the top of our lungs, windows down, giving zero shits about what it sounded like. What I’ve come to understand is that it has never been and will never be about what it sounds like, nor do the words themselves hold the power. The potency was always and will forever be the intimacy experienced between humans who are vibrating at the same frequency with a shared intention.
To understand the power of a mantra practice, we must first acknowledge the power of sound. In their simplest form, sounds are waves or vibrations that ripple through the air. They provide us with one of the most effective and vital ways we have of communicating with the nervous systems of ourselves and of other people. The nervous system controls the body as it receives information from the brain, essentially telling separate parts of the body how to react in a given situation.
For this powerful reason, throughout the ages, the concept of sacred utterance has existed across many traditions (religious or otherwise) for its healing and connective power. While different traditions exercise varying expressions of this devotional practice through hymns, chants, high rituals or worship services, the concept is the same. We are pouring our thoughts, feelings, hearts and intentions into a singular positive point of focus with repetition of intention and a feeling tone that brings us back to that singular point.
My mantra offering is in the context of my yoga practice and therefore colored by Hinduism. In the Hindu tradition, the mantras are inspired by deities who naturally appear in the garb of Indian culture. And, while it is foreign to most of us who were not born into that culture, if we can see past that, we find that they are simply archetypes that represent the universal human virtues that connect us all. Wisdom, compassion, courage, service, strength, and love.
If we start to see them as universal archetypes, they won’t feel foreign at all. A mantra practice doesn’t make us Hindu, Buddhist, Christian or even spiritual— a mantra practice helps us explore ways of purifying, pacifying and transforming the mind and heart. Mantra is one of the ways we get to consciously cultivate the vibration we exist in.
On Saturday, June 1, 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm, I am hosting a Mantra Meditation Workshop. In it we will:
· Learn about the origins and power of sound
· Discover the purpose of a personal japa practice and incorporation of Mala Beads
· Understand the Bija "Seed" Sounds and correlation to chakra system
· Experience the power of bhakti with heart opening kirtan.
Join me and the Sojourn community to find out what this practice is all about, your heart just might unexpectedly open far and wide.
ABOUT Kelly Mahoney
Kelly completed her 200hr teacher training simply in effort to find more balance (i.e. to create space for something other than her high stress corporate America gig). She got way more than she bargained for- more joy, more peace and a desire to share this journey of transformation with others. Kelly teaches Lotus Flow which is a chakra based vinyasa that moves the body with the breath- attentive to healing and energizing the subtle body as the practice progresses from root to crown. Music that sparks the soul is her jam. Dharma themes threaded through the sequence provides focus for the practice and encourages self study on and off the mat. She lives for the way the breath moves the body, the way the body clears the mind and in that moment, all that's left is heart. Her goal is to hold space for her students to turn inward and connect through the strength of heart that's in us all.