Yesterday evening I was way too excited and jittery feeling. I was not at all in the right headspace for yoga class. Music helped to calm my mind a little. I listened to something intense and sobering on my walk to the studio: Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. Too beautiful. Such passion (in our current sense of the word, as well as the ‘original’ (Greek) sense that was much more specifically about ‘suffering’) and longing and love and faith. Although I’m not Christian, nonetheless I find this touching, so here’s a tiny excerpt in the wonderful nineteenth century translation by Edward Caswall:
At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to her Son to the last.
Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.
O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord:
Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.
Then more music in class. We always start a Jivamukti class with some chanting, but this time my teacher played the harmonium for us as we chanted lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu. Big surprise. Maybe he introduced this innovation while I was off having fun with my hamstring. I was really interested to see how it worked as an instrument (always, always intellectual curiosity) and to watch him playing, but instead I kept my eyes closed and tried just to melt into the sounds. It was a beautiful ‘together moment’ and reminded me why I love coming to class — to be inspired by my teacher and my fellow students all doing their best, to feel their energy (and hopefully sometimes to share mine), to recognise that we all face our own individual challenges in our practice of yoga.
I need all the reminders I can get at the moment, since class feels a rather alien place and so different to home practice that I feel really challenged in all sorts of ways. Mainly in concentration. But that is everything. In retrospect I should probably have just spent the whole class just sitting and listening to the music and people breathing rather than attempt asana practice when I knew my mind wasn’t with it. A meditation in sound. I’ll try it sometime.
It feels like a long time ago that I first came to this class and experienced my first chanting. Back then my question was “why?”, rather a series of “whys?”. Why chant? Why these words? Why would I want to incorporate chanting as part of my yoga? I’m glad I didn’t actually ask any of these things. Instead I’ve settled into simply experiencing this offering in the class and seeing where it takes me. I still understand so little, but I’m trusting to the answers to reveal themselves over time. I cannot quest after the meaning of ‘OM’ with my intellect, I can only experience it, if I will.
And finally when I got home my husband announced that he’d been thinking of taking singing lessons. Why? Because he reckons I love singing. Me, not him. But he would take singing lessons for this reason. Wow!
If you’re interested here’s the Jivamukti folk’s take on the similarity between harmonium playing and asana practice: http://jivamuktiyoga.com/satsang/music/p/harmonium-teacher