The majority of my yoga classes take place on a wooden platform jutting out over the shoreline, with a majestic view of the lake and the three volcanoes along the southern shore. (Shout out to Hostel del Lago in San Marcos La Laguna!)
In just about every practice I’ve led this year, I’ve been including pranayama and sound healing before final relaxation. Asana (postures) are important, but there is a depth of inner peace and transformation that is reached when pranayama and chanting are incorporated in daily practice.
Sometimes, we’ll do the consonant or vowel sounds for the crown, heart, and root chakras, in different orders depending on the day. Or, I’ll lead the students through the seed mantras for all seven of the main chakra points.
I always encourage people to join in with their voice if they feel comfortable, or just to listen, because I can clearly remember feeling freaked out by Sanskrit chanting at age 21.
I also love playing with the warrior syllables from Tibetan Buddhism. My beloved friend and yoga teacher, Paola, introduced them to me some months back in a sauna ceremony. They are amazingly powerful and beneficial.
The five warrior syllables are A, Om, Hung, Ram, and Dza. Each represents a quality of realization.
Seed syllables contain the essence of enlightenment. It is subtle, not grandiose, this uncovering of the thick multitude of layers of conditioning. Yet, it empowers us to connect more and more with our true nature—pure awareness.
The other day, I stood alone in the temple in front of an altar full of a stunningly beautiful and potent mandala of crystals, Tibetan singing bowls, and Buddhas.
As I breathed with my palms together in prayer in front of my heart and wished that the journey my family and I are about to embark upon be safe, peaceful, and joyous, for one brief second my mind was clear and radiant.
I realized that this wish for myself and the two beings closest to me (my husband and daughter) was simultaneously a wish for all beings without exception. The pure and simple aspiration, “May the journey of all beings be safe, peaceful, healthy, and happy” welled up from that indescribable source that lies within each of us and is ever surrounding us all.
Dedicating the merit is fundamental to all meditation. It is absolutely essential and not to be overlooked. Here is an example of a dedication of merit you can recite at the end of your practice:
May the earth be wholesome everywhere The world blessed with prosperity May the poor and destitute find wealth And the stooping animals be freed
May every being ailing with illness Find relief at once from suffering May all the sickness that afflict the living Be instantly and permanently healed
May those who go in dread, have no more fear, May captives be unchained and set free, And may the weak now become strong, May living beings help each other in kindness.
May travelers upon the road, Find happiness no matter where they go, And may they gain, without hardship, The goals on which their hearts are set.
From the songs of birds and the sighing of trees, From the shafts of light and from the sky itself, May living beings, each and every one, Perceive the constant sound of Dharma.
There is a gentle breeze or none right now in the living room. I am still, settled, in Sacramento. The sacrament. The sacred mundane. Waking up in a quiet house full of relatives asleep. Soon enough the coffee will be brewing, the people chattering, retiree household bustle. Waking up in a familiar, cozy place.
Tomorrow, we’ll be waking up on a train. Tonight, we take the night train north, northwest. The Oregon Trail. To a bend in the river and a port by the sea. Then a jet engine propels us yet further, all the way to Canada. The Columbia with a U, of the British variety. To the mountains. Belly rumbling to the sound of the now-brewing coffee, in anticipation.
Saying farewell to my parents, my partner and embarking on a mami-hija adventure for the next couple of weeks of catching up with beloved old friends in the Pacific Northwest until our return home to the nest by the lake in the south.
We are blowing in the wind, going with the flow, making plans and showing up, early or late or changing the plans or dropping the plans. Breathing the breath of life. Remembering gratitude, gratitude, love, kindness, compassion, gratitude again.