I’m feeling a bit physically wrecked this week (just a a cold, but oh! that little virus certainly packs a punch!) so I haven’t been up to much asana practice. I’ve been weak and a bit feverish. It makes for ‘hot yoga’ but not in a nice way…
So asana practice is clearly not what my body needs, but I still feel drawn to give some time to yoga. Not least because I’m still stuck with my citta vrttis, my whirling thoughts and preoccupations. And I seem to have a lot on my mind right now. Not the kind of stuff I can think my way through either. I need to feel it. I need space to let the thoughts and questions shift, settle, and eventually perhaps to speak some quiet message to me. It all sounds like a great moment for meditation, right? Except that I’m a bit out of practice with extended sitting (yes, the seduction of asana practice means I rarely sit for longer than 10 minutes these days…) and given how cloudy my head feels at the moment I don’t have the mental focus for it.
Yesterday after a short, functional stretch-out I felt moved to recite a mantra to myself. One of the classics, the biggies, one that I happen to have read recently and thought about a little. Somehow the words had stuck with me.
And I stayed sitting there repeating it for some time. I don’t know how long. Long enough that the words flowed out of me again and again, strange syllables becoming more my own with each repetition. I’m no Sanskrit scholar and I understand only something very basic about the meaning of these words, but I tried to put that to one side. I tried to let the sounds just happen without needing any meaning — just as in physical practice asanas can take over my body in moments where I feel from the inside how best to move, rather that analysing the alignment in my head.
The words of course stayed the same as I repeated over and over. But everything else shifted subtly. As I let the sounds soak into me, the meaning somehow permeated my being. It’s not that it made full sense, but that the intellectual sense ceased to matter, and I just held something of the spirit of it. The words became soothing, inspiring, they provoked wonder, and ultimately delivered some peace. I didn’t want to end. But my voice just naturally diminished to a whisper. And then I was still and quiet. It was rather lovely. And it was very unexpected.