So you’ve taken some yoga classes, asked your teacher about that awesome song he played during your headstand, and started a daily japa practice. But what else can a mantra loving yogi do to keep the bhakti going all day long? Here are a few suggestions for ways to incorporate, and not incorporate, mantra into your life.
Last summer I received darshan from Amma. I arrived early so I could get a good spot in line, which gave me a lot of time to watch the organizers and volunteers running around making the final preparations. I noticed one woman in particular, because she had a unique way of getting the attention of the other staff members. Instead of calling out “Hey you!” she would call “Namah Shivaya!” Of course the people around her had to be “in on it,” so to speak, or she may have just sounded like she was lost in blissful adoration. But I found the idea of exchanging a generic attention grabber for a mantra pretty interesting. Yoga teachers of the world take note, this might be nicer than “Hey lady in the pink top, rotate your thighs externally!”
Bad Idea: Getting attention for you.
Peppering every sentence you utter with short mantras or sacred words is probably not the best idea out there. When your waiter asks “May I take your order?” and you answer “I’d like a Caesar salad, Hare Krishna!” you’re probably going a little overboard! Pull back a little, and remember that while your waiter, grocer and banker may be yogis, they may also not be.
Good Idea: Replacing negative words with positive words.
I read something from Snatam Kaur about replacing profanity with something more positive. The idea hopefully being that pausing and saying “Wahe Guru” could shift the energy of the moment from the negative to the positive. Similarly, during the 40 day So Purkh challenge, Satkirin Kaur Khalsa suggested chanting the So Purkh when relationship tensions and frustrations inevitably strike. Again, changing the energy of a situation into something more positive. It’s easy to get caught up in the heat of a moment, but it could be a powerful tool for transformation. Think about it next time someone cuts you off during rush hour.
Bad Idea: Replacing EVERY negative word with a positive word.
Let’s go back to the rush hour image. “Om Namah Shivaya! That Gobinday Mukunday cut me off! Can you believe the shantih of that guy?” Using mantra in annoying situations is good. Using mantra as swear words…maybe not so good.
Good Idea: Making menial tasks more fun.
In my old job, I sometimes had to help prepare promotional materials for distribution. It often involved folding countless pieces of paper or stamping zillions of envelopes. Talk about torture. But I found the tasks were much more enjoyable and the time went much quicker if I recited a mantra under my breath as I worked. It helped me get into a rhythm and gave my mind something more interesting to think about. Try it next time you’re doing something you don’t enjoy, but be careful. You just might find yourself enjoying the job a lot more!
Bad Idea: Making sporting events more fun.
I’ll admit it, I like to watch grown men beat each other senseless in a professional and organized setting while wearing spandex. Boxing, MMA, WWE, whatever. But standing in a beer-toting crowd of thousands shouting “Jai Ma”? Probably not a good idea.
So remember, mantras are fun! But please, use them responsibly!