Monday, July 23, 2012

Why mantras

A little over two years ago I walked into my first Kundalini class with K, and things have never quite been the same.

My yoga practice was mostly just a physical practice at the time, something we friends did together, and went out to eat after. Sometimes it seemed like there was too much breathing. Savasana was the hardest pose. When there was a substitute I would be irritable, impatient. Why are they so slow? How long are we going to hold this pose? I wanted "my" teacher.

Then I was on spring break. I had my days free, and the studio was doing a lunchtime series. I had been curious about what this "Kundalini" was, so J and I went.

The first thing K had us do was get up and dance.

I love to dance, if that isn't obvious. I was taking Afro-Modern dance, and sometimes I went to the Yogarhythmics at the studio. We noodled about for a bit. We did some sun salutes. And then we did these kooky exercises that we had to do for set amounts of time.

And there were reasons we did them.

We chopped through the negative thoughts and experiences, we pushed away the debris, we surrounded ourselves with protection like giant butterfly wings.

And all the while she spoke words that I had no recollection of ever hearing. Words that, if I ever heard them, never stuck.
You are light; you are bright; you are beautiful. You are kind. You are strong. Wahe guru.*
It couldn't have been much more than a week later that the guy I was seeing wrote me an e-mail explaining that he just didn't have anything to give right then. I was far from home, administering standardized tests for the state, staying in a room with three other women I barely knew. I read this e-mail while the kids were testing. We came back to the B&B after testing, after lunch. I curled up on the couch, covered myself with a blanket, and repeated the mantra until I fell asleep.

When I woke up, it wasn't okay but it was better.

Three days later I was back at home. I called my realtor.** I found my house a few days after that.

For the next year and half, K was "my" teacher. I went to her class weekly, rarely missing unless I was ill. She became my close friend, my guide, tried to help me as much as she could when I lost my job. Through teacher training, I've been able to let go of the idea that I have one teacher or one practice. But I still make it to her class as often as I can, and I still find that insight comes to me through meditation and through mantra.

Today as we were chanting Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo*** I remembered.
I don't have to be anyone but myself.
I don't have to do anything that is not true to who I am.

It's hard, sometimes, to do that. It's hard sometimes to know who that true self is. And when I come up against something that's new, unfamiliar, uncomfortable, my instinct is to run from it, because it's not what I know. My instinct is to resist.

So now I'm getting to know someone new. Someone who is not like anyone I've ever dated before, except the very first person I dated. Someone who doesn't fit in with my idea of who I date, at least not as far as I know at this point. I don't know what to do. I feel it's important to negotiate this situation honorably, without creating tension for myself or him, because this person is part of the dance community, and I've only just gotten that to be a not-awkward place for me to be.

But there is a teacher inside me. There is a self that knows what to do. I will try to be still and listen.

* Wahe guru means a lot of things, depending on who you ask. Wonderful teacher. Hooray for existence. A greeting. A name of God. A guru, or teacher, takes a student from darkness into light.
** ...whose name was given to me by another guy who had separated himself from me for similar reasons three months before.
*** I call upon Divine Wisdom -- again, among other things. I listen to all the teachers in me and around me.

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