practicng mantra for emotional clarityBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed 

Shiva is one of the most well-known Hindu deities. He is known in India as Parameshwara or the Auspicious One. He is considered to be the supreme lord in Shaivism, which is a tantric branch of Hinduism that originated, several thousand years ago. Shiva is also renowned as one to the primary three gods in Hinduism, referred to as the Trimurti. The Hindu Trimurti is comprised of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Additionally, Shiva is considered to be the guiding deity of the creative arts and Yoga. Shiva also wields the power of creation and destruction with ease and grace as seen in the stories of his divine dance throughout the classical Yogic texts.

The portrayal of Shiva in his divine, dancing form is known as the Cosmic Dancer. In this portrayal, his is exemplifying his profound ability to dance within a ring of fire as he destroys all that he has created. This action is similar in nature to the Tibetan Buddhist monks who create exquisitely designed sand mandalas over a period of days, only to reverently brush the colorful sand particles back into an unformed pile at the end of the creative process. This ability to truly enter into a creative process, and then release that particular creation when it is appropriate, is one of the corner stones of Yogic witness consciousness. 

Shiva is also worshiped as his unchanging, transcendent, formless nature. The symbol of his formlessness is known in Hinduism as the Shiva Lingam. This divine lingam encapsulates the very powerful, male essence of Shiva. Throughout our lives, many of us experiences situations and experiences that are difficult, painful and confusing. Some of these experiences are so disturbing that they may remain undigested or unresolved for many years. In more extreme cases, painful experiences and memories may become lodged in the body and mind and, in turn, generate mental and physical illnesses over time. 

A comprehensive practice of Yoga includes breathing exercises, meditation techniques and periods of chanting. Chanting the sacred syllables that comprise the names of Gods and Goddesses has the ability to put us in touch with the very energy that creates and sustains that particular God or Goddess. When we are in touch with this energy field, we are able to witness or release heavier thoughts, emotions and beliefs that may be causing us unnecessary pain and anguish. Because Shiva’s nature is so powerful and transformative, chanting his name has the ability to uproot and expunge painful emotions and memories. 

* The Practice of Mantra Repetition for Emotional Clarity 

Many Yogis and Yoginis also experience the deep peace of dropping into Shiva’s formless field of energy thought chanting or repeating his divine name is a concentrated fashion. Repeating the mantra ‘Om Namah Shivaya’, either silently or audibly, will quickly harness Shiva’s energy. Many Yoga practitioners like to use a japa mala to help focus the mind while repeating a mantra, or enlivened phrase. A japa mala is similar to a Catholic rosary. It is a long string of beads that is used to keep track of the number of repetitions you have completed of your chosen mantra. Many Yoga practitioners like to set aside a period of time to practice japa while taking a walk, just prior to meditation, or even while taking a train or bus to work 

* The Practice of Chanting Shiva’s Name for Emotional Clarity 

In a similar fashion, chanting Shiva’s name will effectively connect you to the essential vibration of Shiva’s nature. There are many different Shiva chants that can be found on compact discs or on Yoga Websites. The arrangements of the bhajans or chants are varied, but the essence remains quite similar. The mantra ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ is translated as “I Bow to the Essence of Shiva who Resides in My Own Heart.” One of the most profoundly restful and peaceful versions of Om Namah Shivaya is the Blue Pearl version. This is available for free on YouTube, both in a ten-minute version and a longer, full-length version. 

When you are ready to spend some time chanting Shiva’s name, you may wish to dim the lights and light a candle, in order to create a soothing, sacred space. You may also wish to set aside a certain amount of time to dedicate to this practice by setting a timer or alarm and turning off your cell phone. Chanting along with a recording is an enjoyable way to learn how to chant this classical mantra. As you chant, allow the energy of the vibrations to wash over you and heal any unresolved emotions that may be still lingering in your body or mind. Allow yourself to receive the profound benefits of your own loving kindness and compassion as you rest in the Shiva’s primordial nature.

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