By: Suzanne Scholten
I find sitting for meditation is the most difficult aspect of the practice, for many reasons. One being, it took me a long time to like myself. Have you ever had a friend that constantly talks about the same thing over and over? And then you start to ignore them, not answer their phone calls, or just start lying to them about being busy or not seeing that they called. This was me, with myself, when I first started the practice. Being with myself, having alone time wasn’t fun or fulfilling. Getting anywhere near feeling bliss, as many of the ancient texts talk about, seemed so unattainable.
In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika it talks about how sound can engulf you and make you completely forget about your anxiety or worries. In verse 97 it states, hearing the nada, mind, which is like a serpent within, becomes captivated and oblivious to all else, not moving anywhere else. The yoga of sound is called Nada. This is why chanting or mantra repetition is so important to still the mind so we can sit with ourselves and learn to be still. The mind can become in a trance with the mantra that is repeated, getting lost in it, and making a habit of returning in a time of need. We often do the bija mantras in class, and once everyone gets over the fear of chanting out loud, there is an amazing sense of calm, peace and tranquility that takes over the room.
Meditating is focusing the mind. In The Yogis Road Map the author Bhavani Silvia Maki gives the translation for the yoga sutra 11 in book two as: Adopt an attitude of introspection to resolve the vritti (thoughts) and calm the agitation of chitta (mind). Some say the 8 limbs are not in order, but without that self-study from the second limb of the NiYamas it seems impossible to still the mind. Thoughts tell us things and it is the origin of these thoughts that we need to start to understand, then we can grasp meditation. We have been studying the 8 limbs to prepare our time to go inward and be still with ourselves. One needs to shake off the social dust, the family soot and culture grime that we schlep with us through the years to start to enjoy our meditation practice.
I am still trying to have a 90% loving relationship with my mantra practice. Some days, it is all I want to do and some days it seems so out of my grasp. But this is why we have many tools to still the mind. On days that I can sit, I fall into my mantra like a child jumping into a hotel bed and on the days that I can’t stay awake or have a recurring thought, I chant, move and journal. Stay with the journey of learning about yourself and keep practicing-whatever that looks like for you.