As the sun slowly sets, the sky completely painted with the golden and reddish hue that marks the end of late summer in Zoetermeer, a group of Mahé Yoga students can be heard clearly through a gentle, warm breeze slowly chanting 'Om Mani Padme Hum'. They sang in unison, creating a serene and peaceful atmosphere. The busy and tired mind of that long day immediately comes to rest.
This event took place during the second Mantra Night of yoga studio Mahé Yoga in Zoetermeer. Under the guidance of yoga teacher Pritha Maheswari, an explanation was first given about the effect of chanting mantras in combination with meditation. The mantra chanting was done with 'japa mala' which is simply repetition of mantra with a string of beads, that are used for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra or affirmation. This meditation method brings focus and calms the distracted mind, helps to build concentration, helps to control blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease, reduces stress, calms the inner turmoil and brings clarity in mind while making decisions, enhances mood and positive thoughts.
At the previous Mantra Night, 'Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha' mantra was chosen. This mantra is recited in honor of Lord Ganesha, the god with elephant head which is seen as the remover of obstacles, god of new beginnings, wisdom and luck. The mantra literally means: Salute to the remover of obstacles.
On this second Mantra evening, the Tibetan Buddhist mantra 'Om Mani Padme Hum' was chosen. The one phrase that is best to translate this mantra is: The jewel is in the lotus, or praise to the jewel in the lotus. Reciting this mantra over and over again, with the right intention, is believed to get rid of the mud until we are as sparkling, pure, compassionate and wise as the lotus flower itself. Another reason why a mantrin, or mantra practitioner chants this mantra is to develop a deep compassion that can be offered to oneself and to the world.
To have a successful Japa Mala practice, a mantra leader is needed so that the rest of the crowd can concentrate and follow the lead to chant. One of the devoted yoga students from Mahé Yoga took the lead to chant this mantra 108 times while being accompanied by an Indian musical instrument, harmonium, which is a hand-pump portable organ that could create a deep and heart touching resonance.
It doesn't take long to recite a mantra 108 times if you're able to fully concentrate on it which took approximately 15 minutes. At the end of the mantra chanting, a moment of silent meditation followed. This is a crucial moment where they observe the vibration the mantra itself has created within and around us. Some of them suffer from being sat on crossed legs too long, and others feel discomfort in sitting with a straight back - which sadly is what the society is no longer used to since the birth of smartphones, and some of them could surrender in the present moment where life truly exists. The hardest part is observing their reaction without judging themselves. This is why we practice, this is why we are all students.
After this mantra recitation, the idea spontaneously arises to chant a number of Kirtans, Chanting kirtan is a devotional practice that helps to uplift the mind, open the heart and bring inner peace. It is the fastest, easiest and most joyful way to achieve peace of mind. Several attendees voluntarily took the lead in this and directed the students to not have any worry that it is in Sanskrit or that it is culturally foreign or if they think they are not a good singer and don’t have a good voice. Eventually they will pick up the chants, and develop a liking for particular chants that correspond to their own inner vibration. It is a devotional, intuitive approach to meditation and not an intellectual one. The energy rose up after Kirtan ended and although some of the students wanted to keep it going, they all finally agreed to end this marvelous evening while their heart was feeling joyful and at its peak. The evening ended with satisfaction and enthusiasm to welcome the next Mantra night that will commence in September.
They were all feeling blissful when leaving Mahé Yoga studio on that particular warm, tropical and sticky evening. The gentle breeze that brushes their skin while cycling home makes them feel forever grateful to be breathing and fully alive to be able to experience all the joy the world has to offer.
Not only the sun has set, but the mantra that they have just learnt has also set in their system as well. The group of students now part ways in the intersection while humming the newly learnt 'Om Mani Padme Hum' mantra and feeling their heart grow with compassion.
Please join us on the next Mantra Night on Friday, 15th September 2023 at 19.00-21.00. Click here to register.