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  • Tina L Romenesko, PYT 500, AMT 200

Mindfulness and Mantra - SO'HĀM



I recently attended a 9 day Mantra Meditation Training in Leavenworth, Washington with Aaravindha Himadra. Although Mindfulness Meditation -and not Mantra Meditation - is my personal practice, I was inspired by the relationship between the two. Even though the focus of our practices was Mantra, Aaravindha spent the first 3 days of the training, exploring Mindfulness and the nature of the Mind. He encouraged us to acknowledge the mind like a young child. To be grateful for our mind chatter, instead of fighting with it.

"Gratefulness makes meditation easier - thanking the mind for whatever it brings you. Resistance makes it harder."

When we resist we create an illusion for the mind to pursue. It gets down to business and does just that. Tries to figure it out. It's what the mind does.

In Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, nothing is added. We show up with the Body and the Breath and that's all we need. We don't count. We don't chant. We just breathe and notice and return. We set an intention - like watching the breath, or leaning into difficult emotions, or cultivating loving kindness, but we don't ADD anything.

Nothing needs to be added. Yet we do.

(Jane Hirshfield, from her poem A Carbon Based Life Form)

In his book, Sacred Sounds, Himadra describes the mantra SO'HĀM as a simple a way to enhance our awareness of the breath. Not a substitution or a distraction. He calls SO'HĀM the vak or the sound of the body breathing. When practicing SO'HĀM the mind steadies, thoughts slow down, and insight arises.

So is SO'HĀM a Mindfulness Practice? I'd say no, in the purest sense of the practice. We've added something, but that doesn't mean it has no value. Metta/Loving Kindness wasn't originally part of MBSR either.

I learned a lot that week. I bristled a few times. I dropped deeply into the silence a few times. I hiked and chatted with wonderful individuals that care deeply about consciousness and have formed a loving community around that caring. And I received a personal Mantra that I am practicing for 40 days. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

This is the first in a series of blogposts I'll be writing about the Mantra training. I was inspired to write about SO'HĀM because it will be the focus for our Monthly Meditation on April 24 at Trillium Studio MKE. Meditations are at noon and 5:00 PM and last 45 minutes. We begin with an explanation of the meditation's intention, followed by 30 minutes of practice, ending with 15 minutes of group inquiry.

Honoring the light, the journey, and the sacred earth beneath our feet.



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