By Niranjan Matanich & Swami Nirmalananda
One day at work, I watched my supervisor go into his supervisor’s office. I just knew he was going in there to talk about firing me. I was sure of it. As the morning went on, I was increasingly more sure of it until I was almost in a panic attack. This, of course, was not true. I was not being fired. I actually have no idea what they were talking about. It was all made up in my mind.
As a yogi, I’ve become reflective and aware of my mind, so I was able to trace my thoughts back. I could see an underlying sense of unworthiness, a sense of not being good enough, which gave rise to words in my mind. Those words gave rise to the thought that I was going to be fired. It affected my whole day but it wasn’t even a reality — except in my mind. This is the power of words.
“The truth is that words have power. The words others say to you, the words you say to others, and the words you use on yourself – they all have power.” — Swami Nirmalananda
This is easy to see in daily life. Someone is rude to you and you have a reaction; it can affect your whole day or week. Maybe even years later, you remember it and still it affects you. Or someone tells you that you did a great job and you have a reaction. These are obvious ways words affect you.
The sneakiest words that affect you, though, are the words you use on yourself. Like my story about being worried that I was being fired. Before I started practicing yoga, I would get caught up in a situation like that and never even know it. I would be so blinded by the power of the words that I wouldn’t identify that it was my own mind creating my experience.
Words are powerful. They keep you bound to feeling inadequate and not good enough. They keep you from knowing your true worth, your inherent Divinity. They hide the mystical reality within you, which is you. Yoga calls this, your “Self.”
Thankfully, yoga has many ways of dealing with the mind. In fact, all of yoga’s practices deal with the mind: asana, pranayama, mantra, self-inquiry, and meditation all help you with your mind. The practice that directly targets the way you use words is called japa. Japa is repeating a sacred mantra, out loud or silently within.
Just like words can make you feel small and limited, a mantra reverses this power of contraction, to liberate you. Both the meaning and the vibration of the mantra are liberating. Especially when you have received an enlivened mantra from an authorized teacher. Mantra reverses the contractions in your mind so that you can experience your true worth. Through repetition of a mantra you replace self-destructive words, so you begin to live from an inner depth that is beyond your mind. When you live from that depth, your mind will no longer harass you!
Swami Nirmalananda says, “You become a light unto the world, with the light of your own Divinity shining through a purified mind and heart. This is yoga’s mysticism, revealed.”
You are freed from the world created by your mind. You discover that you are more than you think you are. So much more…