May we all keep strong and remember that everything is abundant and that everything we would ever need is within us.
Life can get overwhelming at times, especially if the events that are happening one after the other are experiences you either want to savor a little longer or would rather avoid. I try my very best to mindfully face each moment with grace and ease, however the past few months have found me doing the exact opposite. I have been allowing my emotions dictate my thoughts, words, and actions, and I suspect this is because my mind has become quite burdened with resistance.
I recently came from a wonderful 4-day Mindfulness Retreat with Plum Village at Tagaytay last weekend and it was such a refreshing change of pace. I went to the retreat with the intention of reflecting on myself and who I have become from all of the challenges I faced but to my surprise, I found myself simply “being” and allowing the beauty and calm of nature to surround me. I realized that I did not have to “think myself through.” Instead, I needed to just be with myself – no roles to play or expectations to fulfill. I realized that the disappointment I was feeling about myself through the past few weeks was due to my own expectations of supposedly being a “mindful and present being.” These expectations made me forget the very important fact that I am human – and that I make mistakes, regardless of how “enlightened” I am. Now I am not claiming to be good at being mindful or that I am “enlightened.” In fact, I have found that the more I focus on “needing to be mindful,” the more I got distracted from the present moment. Then I started pressuring myself and expecting myself to be nice and neutral all the time.
Because of this internal and unconscious pressure, I became more emotional and my moods swung up and down. I saw myself reverting back to acting quite immaturely and then calming myself down and pretending nothing happened.
It has been a brutal journey, these past few weeks. My best friend just moved to another country. I was in and out of the hospital due to some stressful health checks. I was dealing with someone close to my heart who was suffering from depression. I was getting hurt when he so adamantly wanted me out of his life that I wondered if being there for him was worth it. I became very sensitive and took a lot of things personally, to the point that I began to colour words and actions negatively instead of considering the other person’s true intentions. I was exhausted and overwhelmed and I became tired of trying to detach all the time. The truth was, I cared a lot… but the even deeper truth was that I cared a whole lot about myself. That I was losing a best friend, that I was a bad friend, that I was losing a healthy future – all these came reeling towards me at the same time and I reverted to my base defenses. I became selfish and overprotective of myself but this is mainly because I was afraid that by losing these people, I lose a part of myself. I am not proud of the way I acted but I am amazed at the light that shone through in those moments that seemed very dim.
During the very dark times, I found myself stopping for a while and taking a few deep breaths. I knew I was getting overwhelmed and that I had no control over everything, but I was also aware that I had classes to teach and I wanted to exude a higher vibration for the people coming to class.
I remember a time a few years back when I suffered quite a lot from confusion and I was able to find the light through vibration. It was quite miraculous how during one afternoon nap, I started to hear a familiar song playing in my head. I woke up and felt like I had to know what song this was but it did not reveal itself to me until later that day. I knew it was a mantra and I knew it was in Sanskrit, but that was it. There was a melody but it felt broken or very far away from my reach. However, throughout the activities that I undertook that day, I heard the song getting louder and clearer every hour. I finally recognized what it was when I heard these words clearly in my head, “Om gam ganapataye namaha..” I quickly researched the lyrics online and found the song. I started playing it and saved it on my phone. I listened to it everyday, and as if it was a miracle, I literally felt the heavy cloud of sadness and confusion lift from my life. Sure, I would still cry a few times during the day but whenever I remembered that song, I would find peace again. It lent me such comfort and reassurance. It turns out it was the mantra to Ganesha, the Remover of Obstacles.
This reminded me of the power of mantras – and made me realize that they do work! And it is amazing how we do not need to even know the words or the true meaning.. but that the sounds themselves resonate with the vibrations of our heart and somehow, we know what their message is, what the meaning is, and that they are true.
I am really grateful for the Sanskrit mantras that anchored me throughout the difficult transitions I had to face. I compiled them into this Spotify playlist, #YogawithAnnaMan Powerful Mantras, and have been sharing them and their messages quite sneakily during my classes. You can also preview and listen to the playlist on my Music and Media resource page.
I designed the songs in a sequence that would resonate well with my yoga flow classes. I have been playing it for weeks, mostly to soothe and reassure myself, but also to introduce them to the students without being too aggressive. I hope these songs would help uplift any saddened spirit and inspire new hope and strength to those who need it. Much like they did for me. Or.. At the very least, it is a very nice song list to practice yoga to.
A few people have been approaching me and asking me for the songs that I play in class recently. They say that they do not know the meanings of the songs, never mind the lyrics, but the music speaks to them. Another student of mind, said with a smile, “I don’t know what they mean logically, but I feel I understand them with my heart.” Those words were magical to my ears. She experienced exactly what I experience when I hear these songs.
I am glad the people who come into my classes appreciate them and listen to them, not just with their ears, but with their souls. May we all keep strong and remember that everything is abundant and that everything we would ever need is within us. All we need is to look… or sometimes to listen.