Most commonly when we talk about Yoga, we think of practicing Asanas (Yoga postures) and maybe doing some breathing (Pranayama) along with it. And thats fine as a good Asana session can already leave us feeling more relaxed, more balanced and connected to ourself and others. But gaining this stability in ourself through the Asana practice is only one of the paths of Yoga. There are three additional paths to reach the same goal. Karma Yoga (selfless service), Jnana Yoga (studying of spiritual scriptures) and Bhakti Yoga (devotional service). Depending on our own personality or life circumstances one may work better for us than the other.
An important part of Bhakti Yoga is the repeating or chanting of „Mantras“. Loosely translated, Mantra means: „protection of the mind against negative thoughts/forces“. Mostly we try to protect our house, our money, our children against negative influences, but what about our mind? Is our own mind sometimes not the most harmful and our worst enemy? Chanting a „Mantra“ can help us attain peace of heart and mind by cultivating the positive qualities represented by a specific Hindu deity.
As mentioned, Shiva is the God of destruction and transformation. By chanting his mantra OM NAMAH SHIVAYA we literally try to build and cultivate in ourself the power to destroy our negative thoughts like greed, anger, jealousy and to transform them into postive ones like tolerance, humility, compassion etc. which we then have to cultivate and carry in our heart in order to bring our inner light to shine. Only when we „destroy“ first, i.e. when we let go and make space, we have room to fill our cup again. Clarity of the mind opens our third eye, our eye of Intuition. NAMAH and also NAMAS means prostrating or bowing (the English word „name“ has its roots here). OM NAHMAH means „to bow in the presence of Om“, i.e. „in the presence of the primordial sound“; thus OM NAMAH SHIVAYA may loosely be translated as „in the presence of the primordial sound I bow to you Shiva“.
In the Yoga tradition using mantras or chanting is the royal path to transforming our mind as it works over emotions and thus touches the very essence of our being. So perhaps you may want to give it a try, see what a bit of meditation and listening to or even singing this mantra may do for you. Be open, be surprised.... J
check out the video below:
blogpost by Kathrin