Minimize Stress and Maximize Relief this Holiday Season…
Interview with Manorama
by Lisa Dawn Angerame,
For Yoga City NYC, November 2012
Manorama D’Alvia met her guru at a young age and spent many years learning from and serving Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati. She shares the fruits of that experience with her students through the sounds of the Sanskrit language and the exploration of a variety of sacred texts, including the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads.
A scholar herself and a graduate of Columbia University, Manorama explores the Sanskrit language as a tool to help students find a connection to the truth. She is the go-to Sanskrit teacher for yogis all over the world but especially here in New York City.
Since the holidays are quickly coming upon us, I thought I would ask Manorama for advice as to how to make it to the 2013 calmly and in one piece…
Lisa Dawn Angerame: During the holiday season, people tend to lose their focus. Besides asana, how can yoga help?
Manorama: We have different channels for the teachings of yoga. The practices of meditation and mantra are useful during the holiday season to help heal our minds and keep our emotions in check.
When under pressure, it is helpful to minimize stress and maximize relief. So often during the holiday season, we gather with friends and loved ones and remember things from the past. We don’t realize that as much as we have grown, the people in our lives also have grown too. They may long to be seen in this new manner. When we meditate regularly, we gain access to self-healing and to seeing ourselves and others with greater kindness.
The more we meditate, the more we come in contact with pure energy which is always present now. Being in the present consistently, each day, gives us relief from pressures and provides an expansive feeling in the heart. Through meditation we experience the Self beyond the movement of the mind and therefore beyond anxieties, thoughts, projections, future, or past imaginings. This helps us see the same in our family.
Regular meditation helps us stay connected with our center through all of our experiences, which is positive and has a balancing effect on our whole life and we are not thrown off kilter during the holidays.
LDA: You suggested mantra. Can you elaborate?
Manorama: Before we have the experience of what we call interconnectedness, we need to learn how to unify our energy. One channel we can use to come into contact with our energy in a conscious way, and then ultimately learn to unify it, is the practice of mantra.
When we chant a mantra, we direct our attention to sounds at different locations in the mouth. These points of articulation follow a clear pathway and create clarity in our thoughts.
I think of mantras as mini gurus, like tiny gurus, that guide us. The more we hang out with them, spend time with them, the more we come to understand the subtlety of their meaning.
Furthermore, these mantras are not saying, “lets go to the grocery store!” They are saying essential truths like, “I am Shiva” which simply means, “I am the light of consciousness and I align with that highest kindness and clarity that is possible for me at this moment.”
LDA: Can you describe the origin of mantra?
Manorama: Mantras are said to have been realized by rishis, beings of perfected consciousness. Through their inner perfection, mantras emanated.
The creation of mantras is similar to mathematics. No one created math. Different scholars of math worked with numbers and discovered answers to proofs that were already in existence. In the same way, rishis, through the power of their experience, gained access to sound in its subtlest form and mantras were revealed to them.
LDA: What happens when mantra is chanted over and over?
Manorama: Sanskrit sounds possess a high degree of vibration or echo. Imagine when you’ve been some place where there is an echo, like a canyon, and you say to a friend, “hello.” You hear it echo, “hello, hello, hello.” Then your friend teases you saying, “hello, hello, hello.” Sanskrit sounds are similar to the sounds we say in a canyon. They echo due to their vibrational nature. The echo is symbolic of something continuous and eternal. Therefore, saying mantras gives us a taste of the eternal through sound.
And, mantras quiet the mind. All of us have busy days with things occupying our focus. When we withdraw energy from thoughts and anxieties and direct that energy towards chanting mantras, it becomes a kind of psychological sublimation. It re-focuses our energy and clicks us back into a pathway with the eternal.
LDA: Can you suggest a mantra for the holiday season?
Manorama: From now through January 2nd, I suggest students go into what I call Holiday Practice mode, a way of moving through the stress of the holiday season with ease.
Daily Luminous Soul Mantra & Meditation Practice
15 min practice
Sit on your cushion or chair
Perceive your physical surroundings.
Connect with your breathing.
Watch your inhale and exhale.
Maintain focus on your breath.
Notice how your breath is like a subtle thread that connects you with all things.
After a couple of settling moments, pause and begin reciting the mantra below:
OM Namo Devyai
Reverence to the luminous force of light
Say this mantra 9 x’s
After chanting this mantra remain still and watch your thoughts.
Notice how the sacred sounds steady your breathing.
Watch how steady breathing calms the mind.
Remain still for 5 mins Open your eyes and bow your head towards that healing light that always supports you.
Begin your day with the ease and confidence that comes from being linked with your core.
© 2014 Luminous Soul/Sanskrit Studies & Manorama