WHY I CHANT
ShivaShakti Mantra Mandala
Acrylic on Canvas
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"Mananat Trayete Iti Mantrah"
That which can help transcend the mind is a Mantra
It was over a decade back that I first came to appreciate the importance of chanting. The discovery came at a time when I was bang in the middle of an excruciatingly long stint with depression, My own mind had become my greatest foe. Having lost the will or capability to continue living as a functional part of society ,I had withdrawn into a shell, a bare shadow of my earlier being. The incessant, often disturbing chatter of my mind my constant companion...
As I reached breaking point I started looking for a few moments of respite a way to escape this virtual prison.While looking for ways to soothe myself ,I repeatedly came across the supposed benefits of meditation and decided to give it a shot. But the mind was so persistent that even 2 minutes with my eyes closed was an insurmountable challenge. So I decided to try the next suggestion and try chanting for mental peace.
The rebel in me had always been attracted to Lord Shiva , who was not bound by the confines of society and chose his own path. Therefore I chose a Shiva mantra to start my chanting practice with.The simple yet potent "OM NAMAH SHIVAYA".
In the beginning I would spend a few minutes chanting each day . I did this with complete honesty and dedication. Blanking out all else during the practice. The capacity to forget myself and tune out all mental chatter for a few minutes, was like precious water to one dying of thirst in a desert! and I was hooked. Minutes turned into hours and soon there came a time when I would chant for over 8 to 10 hours a day. This went on for about an year or so . As this practice expanded, I intuitively began to blend the mantra with the steady rhythm of my breath. The anarchy of the mind was drowned in the comforting rhythmic pulse of the mantra.
I started noticing marked changes within the very first month of this practice. There started emerging small pockets of spaces in my consciousness. These spaces were empty, free of the usual depressing thought cycles. I found my smile again and a ray of hope shined through dispelling some of the dark clouds.
The journey wasn't easy or smooth sailing . there were many set backs. But the result too tempting to resist.
The mind is a very useful tool , just like the body it is there to help us live well, provided we use it wisely.
The majority of us however forget this and function on auto pilot. Handing over the reins to the mind completely .This is where problems begin to surface. It is the nature of the mind to think. But when we begin to pay attention to every thought every idea that rises within the capacities of this limited and limiting faculty we end up victims of the vagaries of this machine.
Think of the mind as being akin to a Compact Disc. Repetitive thought patterns and habits forming the grooves around this Disc.When we live unconsciously the mind goes round in a loop playing the same tracks again and again. If these tracks are negative we find ourselves at the doors of mental breakdown and depression .Weak and lost. The secret to changing this track is rather simple ... Provide new tracks. Training the mind is a delicate process. Forcing it into submission however ,will cause the mind to rebel or even snap. What works is discipline and gentle guidance. Building mental strength a little at a time. Here a simple practice like chanting for a few minutes each day can be our ally and the first step to regaining lost power.
Guiding the mind to focus on positive, uplifting affirmations and healing vibrations of divine mantras can over a period of time help establish new grooves and habits for the mind to rest upon. Persistence and dedication even during setbacks shall help us take back charge and get into the driver's seat in our own lives. Chanting in rhythm with effortless breath can be the anchor that keeps us present.
Present to the beauty of life.
Alive to existence and truly in touch with our soul.
My battle and victory over depression has taught me that I have a choice, a choice to lead or be led by the fickle mind and I choose Me .
I choose Life