Of all the yoga tools at your disposal, mantra repetition is the most effective and empowering. It is spiritual energy distilled into a word form. It clears through the debris of your mind, those diverse patterns painstakingly instilled through lifetimes. Swami Nirmalananda promises that this will enable you to live in “progressively more and more clarity and integrity, leading to transparency.”
When you look through a grimy windshield, you may still be able to see through the schmutz, but your vision is impaired and the light diffused. Mantra dissolves the layers of schmutz in your mind. As your mind gets clearer, the radiance of your own inner light shines through.
There are ways to incorporate mantra into your life. Out loud repetition is called “japa,” best done with 108 repetitions at a time, moving the rudrakhsa beads on your mala to keep track of the count and to stay on-focus.
You can do internal japa, repeating mantra silently, not only for meditation but in the midst of life. In this way, mantra becomes a background hum of Beingness, instead of your mind’s habitual background noise of what to do next, who said such and such, and “I’m not good enough.” By continually repeating your mantra, you will no longer be perpetually looking outside of yourself for happiness and completion. You’ll know: I am already That.
Recently on retreat in India, I spent 20 days being bathed in the sound current of ancient, primordial mantras from the Vedas. We did yaj~nas (Vedic fire ceremonies), pujas (worshipping different gods) and sunrise and sunset “agni hotras” (mini-fire ceremonies).
The mantras chanted were wholly unfamiliar, yet I could feel their purifying powers working on me, beyond my mind. The priests would chant the mantras in a steady and rapid stream of sound that became a sacred cosmic vibration.
As I allowed myself to be carried along in this current, there was a cleansing of my mind, dissolving of decades of societal conditionings. I cannot tell you how this works, only that it feels like a surrender into God’s voice, by becoming the One that moves from the outside-in and from the inside-out.
“Mantra repetition gives you the opportunity to start clearing out your mind,
so you can live in progressively more and more clarity and integrity,
leading to transparency.” — Swami Nirmalananda
When you repeat mantra in the midst of life’s activity, it dissolves the duality that keeps you trapped in your mind’s preferences, always saying, “This is Divine but that is not.” Some layers of artifice were taken on by Shiva in becoming you, but you have layered more in there, creating and reinforcing one superficial identity after another.
But with mantra repetition, it’s easier to live a life of integrity: who you are on the outside, matches who you feel yourself to be on the inside. And this leads to transparency, the ability to see all the way through to the Self in yourself, and in everyone and everything. There’s nothing to hide anymore, no one to judge, because you find your Self in everything you see.
But mantra is a Divine and longer-lasting intervention for your mind. This helps you recognize what a trickster your mind actually is. It will have a thousand ways to tempt you with “small-s self” sabotage. Yet Swami Nirmalananda has given us a mantra “to save us from ourselves”. All we need to do, is to repeat it.
OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah
To your inherent Divinity again and again I bow