Using Malas and Mantras to Deal with Energy Bullies March 30, 2016 08:40
We've all had to deal with energy bullies at one time or another, and we have all been someone's energy bully as well. They can be family members, friends, colleagues, partners, and spouses. Energy bullies have difficulty being accountable for their own behavior. They are prone to blaming, complaining, judging, and playing mind games in order to protect their own egos or to manipulate others.
Being around an energy bully can deplete our own energy and erode our self-esteem.
There's good news, though. Toxic people give us opportunities to transform ourselves and grow, and using malas and mantras can help foster this transformation.
Energy bullies are especially astute at honing in on other's vulnerabilities and blind spots. That's their hook--and if you let them--they latch on and drain you of positive energy and confidence. So, how do you effectively deal with energy bullies?
1. Identify the Root Source
What is the Achilles' heel, trigger issue, or soft spot that they have targeted with you? It may be a behavior pattern, an issue that you are sensitive about, a belief, characteristic, or specific situation. Identify why and how they push your buttons.
Once you take note of who pushes your buttons and which situations elicit strong reactions or energetically drain you....PAUSE.
Give yourself permission to allow feelings of anger, resentment, fear, exhaustion, and doubt to surface. Sit with these feelings--invite them to tea for a few moments. Open your heart and make space for these feelings. Then,
3. Healthy Detachment
Let them go! Strong reactions of anger and resentment only entrench us more deeply in the toxic relationship with an energy bully. Once you've identified the source and held space for the feelings surrounding it, detach from it emotionally (THIS IS EASIER SAID THAN DONE, and IT TAKES PRACTICE).
Gently offering yourself compassion and acceptance during this process will allow you to empower yourself and bolster your strength and confidence.
4. Malas and Mantras:Tools of Empowerment
Using a mala and incorporating a mantra practice can be a very useful tool to disengage from an energy bully. This practice can act as an antidote to the source issue.
Choose a mala and a mantra that will embody the qualities that you would like to cultivate.
Need strength and protection? Call on Durga to help: Om Dum Durgayei Namaha
Need spiritual wisdom and maturity? Shiva can offer assistance: Om Nama Shivaya
If you're quick to anger and need peace, Kwan Yin can help: Namo Kwan Shi Yin Pusa
Need an all-purpose mantra for balance and equanimity? Om Hum So Hum
There are thousands of mantras to choose from, and a Google search and listening to your own intuition can help you find one that's best for you. Make time each day to chant, sing, whisper, or think this mantra while using your mala. I recommend a 40-day sadhana, or practice, if possible. Keep note of your progress in a spiritual journal or log. Before you know it, you'll reclaim your power and help prevent future energy bullies from sabotaging you.
The Subtle Side-Effects of a Chanting Practice March 2, 2016 15:00
Everything we are, and everything that is, is vibration. All sentient beings and all inanimate objects in the cosmos are teeming expressions of vibrational flow. When this flow is disturbed or disrupted, disharmony is the result. A mantra or chanting practice can help restore harmony and balance again by kneading the cells of the body with sound. One of the best ways to recalibrate and reboot your own system is through a regular practice of chanting Sanskrit mantra.
I've been practicing forty-day sadhanas with various mantras over the course of the last two years, and upon reflecting on this practice, I've noticed some interesting side-effects.
* Increased Presence
I'm finding it's much easier to stay in the present moment. This can be both a blessing and a curse. For example, I'm not writing nearly as many lists on Post-it notes, and I'm not as caught up in the trance of future thinking--the endless streams of "I have to do this," and "I have to do that," etc.
However, I'm finding that I immerse myself completely in the most mundane tasks. I'm totally engaged in loading the dishwasher or flossing my teeth, and time slips away from me. Last week, I spent twenty minutes in the produce section at Target--totally mesmerized by the colors, shapes, and smells of fruits and veggies, as if it were an art exhibit at the IMA.
*Managing Difficult Emotions
When anger, frustration, fear, resentment, and general crankiness rise to the surface, I'm able to stay with these unpleasant feelings for longer periods of time without casting judgment or pushing them away. I can sit (stand, walk, or drive) with them with an objective heart and mind--simply noticing and holding space for these feelings--until they dissipate on their own.
This morning as I was driving to school, a man in an old pick-up truck tailgated me all the way down Morgantown Rd. Every time I glanced in my rear view mirror, he made various aggressive hand gestures, clearly indicating his disapproval of me driving the speed limit. Instead of responding with equal and opposite frustration, though, I remained calm and focused, and when he barreled past me across the double line, I didn't take it personally, and I didn't feel the need to speed up and chase after him, which is evidence of significant growth for me.
*New Teachers and Adventures
One of the most pleasant side-effects of my mantra practice is that it has been sending new teachers and adventures my way. I've met amazingly creative,supportive,and nourishing people outside my usual circles who have helped me learn and grow in so many ways. They've helped me stretch beyond my comfort zones, offering guidance and encouragement at just the right time.
For a long time, I've wanted to visit the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington, Indiana, and in the last few months, I've visited several times, attending various pujas, lectures, and events there.The monks have been very kind and warm-hearted, and their welcoming and open spirits have been both inspirational and refreshing.
In addition to honoring the Divine that dwells within, I've found that the heart of a regular mantra practice also includes elevating your vibrational frequencies. Each forty-day sadhana brings new experiences and insights, and each spiritual formula has its own unique lessons to teach. I'm looking forward to exploring the treasures that dwell in the next Sanskrit mantra.
Tradition and Meditation Practice October 18, 2015 12:37
Tradition has its place in society. It creates comfort and stability. It offers a solid connection to the past and honors those who have come before us. Tradition represents the deep roots in the tree of life that can literally and metaphorically ground us.
For thousands of years, malas have been made of traditional materials such as sandalwood, tulsi, and rudraksha seeds. These were the materials available to the sages, rishis, and meditators in ancient India and Tibet.
What about meditators today? Is it appropriate to chant and recite mantras with malas made of gemstones and crystals instead of the traditional materials of the past? Well, it depends.
As in any yoga practice, a meditator's practice begins with an intention. The intention is like an electrical current running through and energizing the practice, and the mala is like the light bulb. The intention may be specific or general--it may be personal or universal. Whatever the intention, it must resonate in an authentic way with the practitioner or meditator. Through sincerity and dedication, a mantra or meditation practice with a mala requires clarity and connection.
If traditional beads made of wood, yak bone, or seeds resonate with the meditator, adding an element of authenticity to the practice and strengthening the intention, then, by all means, using malas made of traditional materials would be appropriate.
However, meditators bring meaning and significance to the mala--not the other way around. Each bead is energized with the intention, the dedication, and the presence of the meditator . The meaning doesn't reside in the beads, themselves. The practice brings meaning to the beads, regardless if they are made of rudraksha seeds, rose quartz, acorns, or miniature marshmallows.
Finding a mala that resonates with the meditator is an important aspect of the practice. However, attaching too much significance to the tradition and history of the beads or the meaning behind the gemstones is just another way for the ego to creep in and disrupt the practice.
Is it OK to use a mala made of tulsi, wood, or yak bone beads? Yes--of course.
Is it OK to use a mala made with gemstones, crystals, metal, and glass? Yes-- of course.
Is it OK to use a mala made of miniature marshmallows and acorns? Yes--of course.
Any mala that resonates with the meditator, that aligns with the intentions of the meditator, and that motivates the meditator to continue the practice is appropriate.
The mala that you use in your practice should resonate with you and your intentions. There is no "right" or "wrong." It is YOUR practice--it is YOUR energetic offering. The mala is simply the vehicle for the light to shine, not the light itself. As with any energetic practice, it's important not to confuse the current with the bulb.
Seizing the Present Moment: One Bead at a Time July 8, 2015 09:07
Like clockwork, the first warm July days bring one of my favorite sounds—that spiraling whir of cicadas grinding away the summer in the trees. Their song is bittersweet for me, reminding me that the summer is passing quickly. Their jarring, cyclical songs function much like a natural mantra, reminding me to “be present…be present…be present” and to enjoy what’s left of the summer.
Repetition is soothing and comforting. It creates a familiar and recognizable pattern that can offer reassurance when stressed and bring a sense of order to chaos. Everything in the universe is made of vibration, and all sounds create movements of energy. Mantra is a Sanskrit word that means “sound tool.” A mantra can be a word, phrase, or affirmation that is repeated in the mind, whispered, chanted, or sung in order to set an intention or aid in concentration during meditation practice. The mantras we use represent the qualities or traits that we wish to embody or to permeate our consciousness. When used in conjunction with a mala, the practice becomes even more visceral, and each bead is infused with the essence of the mantra.
The most effective mantras are the ones that are simple, significant, easy to remember, and phrased in the positive. In order for mantras to make a beneficial difference in our lives, they must be repeated often….and believed.
Example Sanskrit Mantras
Om—Primordial sound of creation. Brings us into harmony with the universe
Santośa (pronounced san-tōsha)—Contentment
Om Namah Shivaya—Honors Shiva, the god of transformation
Om Gum Ganapatayai Namaha—I honor Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. I ask for blessings and protection.
So-Hum or Ham—Sah—“I am that” or “That I am.”
El Shaddai—Hebrew name for God
Om mani padme hum—invokes blessings of Chenrezig, the embodiment of compassion in Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
Modern Examples—or Create Your Own Mantra
Today, I choose joy.
I am strong, I am confident, I am healthy, and I am well.
I love myself. I respect myself. I am worthy.
The universe is my source and will provide.
I send you joy. I send you peace. I send you health. I send you love.
In addition to calming the mind and silencing the incessant mental chatter of that nagging inner critic, reciting, chanting, singing, or simply thinking mantras can have other positive effects on the body:
*stimulates the relaxation response
*lowers heart rate and blood pressure
*stimulates immune function
*increases physical vitality and energy
*alleviates depression by decreasing stress hormones in body
*promotes breath control
*helps synchronize the left and right hemispheres of the brain
*oxygenates the brain through increased blood flow
*calms brainwave activity
*stimulates melatonin production, which can improve sleep quality
Hearing the cicadas’ collective song of celebration and endurance today inspired me to take my meditation practice outside. I sat under a white oak tree, mala in hand, and chanted along with the cicadas: “be present…be present… be present…enjoy this moment…this moment…this…moment…of…summer.”