by LauraLynn Jansen, theYoke’s executive director
I firmly feel, and believe, there is a true and sustainable love living inside each of us. Feels, to me, like the same love encouraging the birds to sing each morning. This omnipresent love pulls the tides and moves the moon. It offers us our every breath. I imagine it like an internal flame, a bit like a flickering firefly, sometimes shining brightly, and sometimes-quite dim, and in some rather sadder times it is invisible.
Currently, I feel this inner flame in me burning at a high intensity. A different type of engagement in my daily Yoga practice, known as Bhakti Yoga is stoking the fire. I attribute it to the profound resonance coming from a more precise and detailed mantra recitation. Though my first introduction to Sanskrit mantras was over twenty years ago, I’ve never known the details of this Yogic practice. Now an informed tongue knows where to place itself in the mouth, sounds elongate at certain moments, intonation occurs, and a deeper understanding (through the mind and the body) is being obtained. These words written in this ancient language of Sanskrit lend to a new experience of words of invocation and reverence. Alongside these chants is time dedicated to sargam (a traditional Hindustani music) practice and āsana, which I use to take out the cricks in the body before sitting to engage everything else. Pretty much every day I begin with these practices and collectively call all of them my Yoga practice. They stoke the inner flame of light, no matter how dim I felt it the night before or upon awakening.
I’ve been cultivating this new sensation and understanding for almost three years now. It carries through the day, assisting my ability to keep my mind toward the warmer and more positive aspects of life in the modern world. Its’ beauty endlessly astonishes me. Often I sit in awe of how it manifests. I end each practice with a mantra historically known to invoke a deep sentiment for every person and being toward a place of peace. Often I visualize folks in my life who I know struggle to keep their inner flame lit. During this season of romantic love I pray these folks find a love of Self (versus love outside of self). A love so deep it lifts up the flame from within them.
If you are someone who craves to a dip into (or dip deeper into) the Self-love flame here is an open offering. The teacher, from whom I am learning about these ancient practices, and several other students (who study with her) compiled this offering to increase your understanding of this mantra and mantra practices. They give it freely. May it assist you in deepening your understanding and experience of the love living inside us all.