I know I have mentioned
(ok maybe whined) a number of times that in Hanmi Buddhism you have to learn a lot of Mantras. So for those of you that may be unaware of what a mantra really is and why there is such an emphasis on learning them in the Hanmi school let me explain…..
Mantras are comprised of seed syllables or sounds of power and were created at least 2500 years ago, when people who had attained higher awareness realized that certain sounds could adjust an individuals’ mental and physical states. Almost every spiritual school or religion uses mantras (prayers) to help the calming and focusing of the mind in order to facilitate a connection the Divine. Because chanting sounds of great power can heal the body, mind and spirit, mantra chanting can be used to help resolve any problem or difficulty one may experience in life.
Now, though I had a “working” understanding of the power of the mantra it really wasn’t until I began chanting mantras in China with a group that I finally experienced how incredibly powerful they can be. As I mentioned in the last post, we chanted at least 2x a day for around 1-2 hours at a time which seemed like a lot at the beginning but now is just a regular part of my day.
My personal experience with the power of Mantra Chanting began innocuously enough early one morning when the group met to begin our morning chant. Now morning have always been my favorite time but I had been in China for about a month by then and the limited sleep was just beginning to be felt – just a little really – but enough for me to be in a dreamy state when we began chanting. All of a sudden about 20 minutes into the chanting I felt – well I can only describe it as a bubble of energy – release from somewhere deep inside me and float to the surface of my mind and “pop” and I immediately experienced letting go of a time in my life that had been very difficult for me (my divorce) and moving into complete forgiveness of everyone involved in that difficult time that I felt hurt me or didn’t support me. It was, needless to say, a very profound moment and for a moment I was quite speechless. Because really, I thought I had already done that, I mean I was in therapy for a year after my divorce and I felt I had left no rock unturned in my efforts to free myself emotionally and to move on…apparently I hadn’t.
I didn’t notice any other effects at that time other than a release of a kind of tension that I had been holding somewhere in my body around the vicinity of my heart chakra but this experience coupled with the mental re-booting if you will, of my consciousness around this past event left me feeling stunned. So, I kind of just sat there for a while unable to chant or move really, while the energy shifted and settled within me. It wasn’t until later – either that day or the next that I realized that I was different because of that experience……I no longer had any covert anger towards my ex – you the kind where you act ok when you meet but underneath the civility is a vestige of anger and pain – it was all gone now and with it my body was more relaxed and I could literally breathe more fully and easily and I actually felt a greater warmth inside my heart. In short I felt great! I felt expansive and happy in a way I realized I hadn’t since that time in my life came down…
Needless to say I was impressed with chanting and so I began chanting with greater earnestness and paying attention to the subtle shifts that would occur when I chanted for sustained times. And I can say to you with absolute unwavering personal knowledge that chanting mantras will change your mind and your body. Which is of course, the first step on the path to enlightenment.
This experience was the first profound change of consciousness I had in my spiritual journey but there were more to come…