Not long ago, I decided to chant the Healing the Wounds of Love mantra “Mera Man Lochai” 11 times a day for 11 days as instructed. I had always avoided this particular mantra because I thought I didn’t need it. I thought that all the wounds of love that I had experienced in my life were resolved and healed.
But deep down inside, I knew that they weren’t. There was pain hidden away, some of which I’d been carrying for years. And as we live and love, new wounds are inflicted. It is hard (and maybe impossible) to be a human being and not experience the wounds of love time and time again.
The words of this beautiful shabd were first written as letters from Arjan Dev to his father, Guru Ram Das, the Fourth Sikh Guru. Arjan had been told to represent his father in Lahore and to stay there until he was summoned, but the separation was painful for him and he longed to return home. The story about the letters is fascinating; as Arjan (who became the Fifth Sikh Guru) wrote of his longing to be with his father, his brother kept intercepting the letters. But finally father and son are united and all is well.
It’s a story of deep love and longing. The mantra can be chanted in a group using a very specific sacred geometry for seating and reciting, or it can be chanted as an individual sadhana. As Ramdesh Kaur and Karan Khalsa explain in their book, Yoga & Mantras for a Whole Heart, “With each passing day, you will experience an expanding sense of clarity in your heart and mind that empowers you to take the steps you need to heal your relationships in the physical realm while it works energetically in the spiritual realm.”
Here’s a brief run-down of my experience with the mantra. I’d encourage everyone to recite it; there is a feeling of peace and cleansing that comes toward the end, although you may find yourself in a pool of tears at the beginning.
My son—a rock n’ roll guitarist whose musical tastes definitely don’t lean in the direction of sacred chant music– interrupts my meditation, but I just keep going. When I’m done, he says, “That sounded pretty, Mom. Play it again!”
On my way home from yoga class I start to cry, remembering something that has hurt me in the past. “It’s not working!” I say to myself. But then a thought comes into my head: “Forgive yourself.” Forgive yourself for feelings that you can’t change. Move on if you can, but don’t beat yourself up. Part of love is knowing how to feel love and compassion for yourself. Maybe self-forgiveness is part of the point?
On the first round of the mantra tears erupt. The music is so beautiful. Feelings churn in my heart; turning emotion into devotion is not an easy thing to do.
I complete my mantra without tears today, but then, listening to “Go in Beauty” by Mirabai Ceiba here they come again. Out of the blue, I decide to take the night off from my writing work to be with my husband. Thoughts, images, and memories of our more than 30 years together swirl in my head. I feel forgiveness and compassion for him. I wonder where it’s coming from?
As I chant today I think of the love between Nirinjan Kaur and her mother. How beautiful that a mother/daughter duo can chant this piece together. My heart swells with admiration and love for them, and gratitude for their beautiful voices.
Only a few tears today and a feeling of never wanting this to end. Later in the day, my husband remarks that my love comes and goes like an ocean wave, while his is constant. I know this is true, but it’s the nature of the love I feel. How can I change that and should I even try?
Days Seven & Eight
All feels well and calm, no tears.
Very calm at first, then a flood of tears. I read the words of the mantra in English: “I am a sacrifice, my soul is a sacrifice.”
No tears and all is calm in my heart.
I can’t believe it’s almost over. During the last of the 11 rounds I envision a grey cloud lifting from my heart. I imagine that all the wounds of love I’ve experienced over the years are lifted and drift away.
I realize I am blessed to have loved so deeply in my life, even though love and pain are so often intertwined. I feel a cleansing taking place, and I’m surprised that it seems to have so much to do with forgiveness. In order to love, one must forgive one’s self and others. To love with an open heart is a gift and an honor but wounds are part of the territory. This meditation is indeed a beautiful gift to our wounded hearts.
Beautiful Versions of This Mantra: