Saturday, November 28, 2009

Om Namah Shivaya

My religious upbringing was a mixed bag. My Father was born and raised Jewish. My Mother was born and raised Mennonite. Both chose to look for other spiritual paths in their 20's. My mom looked around for a while. There was a Unitarian church she attended when we lived in MD, but she didn't like any of the practices she visited in Albuquerque. I think she is still a spiritual person even though she is not affiliated with a particular faith at the moment.

My dad on the other hand started following Siddha Yoga before my birth and still does to this day. When I was young there was a yoga center in our town he would attend occasionally, now I think his practices are mostly personal.

As children and young adults my sisters and i were never forced to attend any services. But as we got older and more curious we were encouraged to visit the religious centers of my parents and even friends. Free to make our own choices.

For a while in my pre-teen and teen (?) years i became very interested in Siddha Yoga. I went to the local yoga center with my father. I even went to a 2 week intensive in upstate NY where I saw the guru herself. There's not a lot I've kept with me from those days. I remember i loved the chanting part best. I cannot smell nag champa incense without being drawn back to that white carpeted finished basement of someone's house. The sound of Indian instruments playing.

The only thing i use is a mantra: Om Namah Shivaya. This loosely translates to "I honor the divinity within myself". When I was taught how to meditate, I was told to think this mantra on each inhale and each exhale. This was one method to quiet the mind and get to the divinity part of meditation.

Needless to say, I have never been very good at meditating. I am unable to get to that point where my mind ceases it's never ending stream of chatter. But i still use this method to relax myself in many situations. Times of great stress or emotion. Times of great pain. (Hello labor!) And recently, every single moment of the day or night when I am able to catch a few hours of sleep. When my overtired brain wants to run in a million different directions, about 10 minutes of repeating the mantra on each inhale and exhale slows my breathing and quiets my brain.

Oddly enough I had forgotten the meaning until yesterday when I asked my Dad. I don't know that I'm any closer to reaching Nirvana, but the sleep is surely blissful.


Anonymous said...

Ellie does yoga - both Wii fit and one day a week after school. She loves it!

There's a word I see everywhere that drives me nuts and I don't understand it: Namaste. What the heck is that? I asked Ellie and she doesn't know. Lisa

alexis said...

wow, what a lovely thought to share! I think we were all intrigued at one stage or another with our father's spiritual practices. I certainly did it for a while but I fear these days am pretty much atheist. Meditation however, I think is a great tool for all, especially when cared are racing around your mind. Those seem to get wound tighter and tighter as we can't stop thinking about them, but don't come to any resolution.

Bernice said...

I love hearing about each life journey. I, too, started out like your Mom, but have discovered so many great ideas and love the journey I am taking.

Lakeview Coffee Joe said...

How nice! I should probably meditate....might help....a lot!

Lakeview Coffee Joe said...

Oh, Lisa, according to Wikipedia, Namaste means "I bow to you." I had looked it up because they say it on Lost!

Dad said...

I am not the greatest expert on yogic lore even with my years of practice Lisa. But the word Namaste you see and the word Namah in the mantra done by MR are related words. The whole "bowing to" or "honoring" concept relates to the unitary principle that there is only one consciousness and it resides in each of us.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, LCJ and Dad. I feel much better now that I know what Namaste means. Lisa