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Tuesdays 6:00-7:30pm PDT
We are experiencing so much sadness, grief, anger, fear, pain and worry right now. No matter your opinions, we are in a time that is tumultuous. For most of us, the most unusual and chaotic times of our lives. We are constantly being flooded by news, information and rhetoric that is intense and polarized. Over the last few days, I have found myself confused, not knowing what to do or where to turn. I have been unable to stay focused on a task, and often feel flooded with emotions I cannot articulate. I am assuming I am not alone. I think many of us may be feeling this way.
These feelings reminded me of Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita is an ancient spiritual text from India which was written sometime between 400 BCE and 200 CE. It takes place just before a great epic battle between families and it is a conversation between a great warrior, Arjuna and his teacher Krishna. Krishna is God manifest. It doesn’t matter what religion affiliation you have or if you don’t subscribe to religion at all. All spiritual texts have something to offer because they address the human experience.
In the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna asks his charioteer Krishna to bring his chariot between the armies.
“And Arjuna, standing between the two armies saw fathers and grandfathers, teachers, uncles and brothers, sons and grandsons, in-laws and friends. Seeing his kinsmen established in opposition, Arjuna was overcome by sorrow. Despairing, he spoke these words:
O Krishna, I see my own relations here anxious to fight, and my limbs grow week; my mouth is dry, my body shakes, and my hair is standing on end. My skin burns, and the bow Gandiva has slipped from my hand. I am unable to stand; my mind seems to be whirling. These signs bode evil for us. I do not see that any good can come from killing our relations in battle.” 26-31
The Bhagavad Gita, which means song of God, goes on for 18 short chapters where Krishna teaches Arjuna about the different spiritual paths of yoga and how practicing yoga, helps you embody your role in life. As a side note, the Gita is reported to have been Ghandi’s primary spiritual text.
Many of us are searching for our role, what should we do now, how should we go forward. Or perhaps we are feeling overwhelmed by it all and resentful that we have been thrusted from our contented lives into the chaos of the last few months. Regardless, we can use our yoga to calm the churnings of our mind so we can better hear our own true voice. With all the unfathomable and terrible things that are happening right now and all the loud voices around us, it is difficult to hear our own voice. Yoga, not just asana (postures), but the practice of yoga, helps to cultivate the ability to quiet the mind, to be still and present so we can listen. Listen first. From listening with an open heart, we can respond in a more embodied way.
I have been listening too. I haven’t written in a few weeks because I didn’t quite know what was next. So instead of forcing it, I waited and listened. When COVID first began in March, I had a sense of offering chanting and meditation as a prayer for peace. Chanting is a practice of Bhakti yoga, one of the styles of yoga that Krishna discusses in the Gita.
Over the last few months, I have been doing a lot of Bhakti yoga practice. Mostly with Rob & Melissa Lundsgaard. You can find them on Facebook and on the internet. The practice of Bhakti yoga is devotion. Prayerful devotion to God, Goddess, Nature, whatever form the Universe takes for you. Rob & Melissa do mostly kirtan which is devotional singing Their singing is amazing by the way. These practices have really lifted my soul and have been a balm for our current times.
In their last newsletter, they talked about prayer. Really focused and devotional prayer does change the world. Once again, I am feeling called to chant for peace. Chanting is a form of prayer. It is also a form of meditation. The repetition helps to calm the whirling of the mind, so we can be fully present. When we are able to come to our mats fully present, we cultivate our inner light, which then shines out to enrich others. When we elevate ourselves, we can elevate others as well. When we become quiet with ourselves, it creates an opportunity for others to be heard.
There is a chant, Lokah Samastah Suknino Bhavantu which translates as “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.” I’d like to offer that payer to you and for all. You can read more about chanting and this chant here.
For the next 9 weeks. One week for every minute that George Floyd was held down, our Tuesday night practice will be a devotional one. I invite you to bring a prayer, vocalized or silent to your practice. Instead of doing yoga nidra I will chant the Lokah chant 108 times. You are welcome to join me, or to simply lie down in Savasana or Restorative pose and open your hearts to the chant allowing it to flow through you. From this devotion, I pray that we may see the way forward or the appropriate way of action (Karma Yoga) more clearly.
I am looking forward to sharing this sacred space with you!
Dive Deep to Ascend,
Andrea Carvalho, musings on the journey to vibrant embodiment.