In all things human, tips for teachers

Shanti, of course, is the Sanksrit word for peace. (The tradition of reciting “shanti, shanti, shanti” 3 times reflects the trinary nature of existence – – the relationship of peace within yourself, peace between you and others, and peace throughout the universe. Buddhists also refer to the Threefold peace of the body, mind and speech). Aum, or Om, is perhaps the most commonly-known Sanskrit mantra, but it has so many significances an entire newsletter might not address them all! However, a few insights follow…

The simplicity of Aum is married to its complexity and its fundamental importance. It is considered the primary sound of the universe, the essential sound of consciousness or creation. Thus in vibrating our bodies and consciousness to Aum, we are aligning ourselves with the divine essence of the universe!

Written and chanted as A-U-M, the mantra again represents a trinity: that of the energies of creation, sustenance and destruction that together bind the universe together. These are sometimes represented by the Hindu deities Brahma (A = Creation), Vishnu (U = Sustenance) and Shiva (M = Destruction or Transcendance). (See below for a wonderful illustration of this representation!) Other trinities for the A-U-M include body-mind-spirit, or self-personal world-universe… there are many possible concordances.

To deeply experience the power of this simple mantra, sit comfortably in your usual meditation seat. Begin by simply working with A-U-M. As you chant aloud, resonate each sound for several seconds before moving to the next sound: Ah…. Oh…. Mm. Notice where you feel the vibrations of each sound in your body. Sense the “Ahh” emanating from the base of your body, vibrating and cleansing the root and belly. Sense the “Ohh” purifying your heart center and throat. Feel the “Mmm” resonating throughout your face and skull to the crown of your head. Repeat aloud at least six times.

Now, repeat the path of A-U-M, but repeat the mantra sounds silently, and feel the same internal vibrations. As you move to this more subtle layer of sensing the mantra, its purifying abilities move more deeply from the physical into the subtle body, releasing the emotions and burdens of the lower self. As this release occurs, the central channel of consciousness is opened and the jiva, your individual spirit, is freed to reunite with paramatman, the source of divine love and inspiration.

Now allow the A-U-M to combine into Aum, and feel you are receiving the divine light of Paramatman, the universe, through that central channel, from the crown of your head, flowing down into your heart, the seat of your jiva, your unique spirit, and into your body.

As you tune in to your breath, let the inhale carry this light down into the center of your body. Begin to let the exhale release from your heart center. Feel on this release the sound of Shanti, peace. As this cycle of inhale and exhale continues, you draw in the inspiration and unconditional love of the universe, filtering it through your unique essence and sending it back out into the world.

You might direct this powerful vibration of peace anywhere you’re inspired to: from your loved ones, to those in need, to places of conflict anywhere in the world. This simple, powerful practice reconnects you to the love, peace and divine oneness within your own heart and throughout the universe.

Alan Finger

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