I worked in the publishing industry in Manhattan for twenty years before I found the courage to write. And I would not have known how to cultivate that courage, had I not studied world religions for two years first.
Eastern spiritual principles and ideas have slowly been adopted here in the West—particularly here in America: in 1990, 85% of Americans identified as Christian, compared to today, nearly 30 years later, it’s dropped to 75%. People are beginning to wake up to the fact that there are many different ways of living the human experience as a spiritual being.
Personally, I grew up in Australia, where only 52% identify as Christian. Not being exposed to much religious conditioning while growing up, I missed out on the dogma and hang-ups that so often come with some religions—for example, sex in sinful, money is evil, if you don’t submit to the patriarchal hierarchy you’ll go to hell.
The older I get, the more I see how my conditioning determines how I show up in my life.
I’m also learning that to be aware of what my particular conditioning may be, is to learn how to be free of that conditioning. To find freedom and liberation from the conditioning with which I grew up, allows me the space to experience the present moment in its entirety. This moment which may be filled with joy, or sometimes with pain. This is how I live my human experience as a spiritual being.
I came to this awareness through attending an interfaith seminary program where we studied world religions for two years. Perhaps the most important element of this interfaith program involved creating an individualized daily spiritual practice or “sadhana” in consultation with Rev. Dr. Stephanie Rutt, our spiritual mentor and teacher.
When it was my turn to meet with her one-on-one in her small office, we sat across from each other in comfortable armchairs. Sun streamed in through the window. She said that the structure of my sadhana could be stating a “thank you” intention, then three minutes of a Sikh breathing exercise, several minutes of chanting a mantra, then twenty-minutes of meditation or centering prayer, and closing with the same “thank you” intention. I told her that I liked the sound of that.
She then told me that she had chosen three or four different chants or mantras she believed would serve my spiritual growth. She said that I could choose one from the few she would sing to me.
She began to chant and sing. I hadn’t ever heard any chants or mantras like these. I leaned back in my chair and enjoyed listening. They were in a different language, so I couldn’t understand the words, but that didn’t seem to matter. After two different chants, she sang one called Gobinday Mukanday. It was as though she poured a bright, warm light into my very being. Tears came to my eyes. Even though I had no idea what the words meant, my whole being resonated with this sound current—like my soul was being tuned like a musical instrument.
On an energetic level I felt nourished. The sounds connected with me beyond my mind: piercing my heart, opening it gently. My heart understood this language she sang even though my ears and mind had never heard these sounds before. As though I was in a dream where we didn’t speak with words, but we communicated with emotion. Certain sounds invoked certain feelings. And the roots of those feelings reached deep into my subconscious. It was as though she tuned into the part of her Self that knew what I needed to heal within myself, and she sang directly to that wounded part of me. That wounded part of me that didn’t yet have the courage to allow me to claim my spirituality in the world and to give it voice.
I can’t remember another time I felt so moved by sound.
“I guess I know which one I’ll be practicing,” I told her when she finished singing.
Rev. Stephanie smiled and told me that Gobinday is a courage mantra, noted for the capacity to break through deep-seated blocks. I also learned later that the Sikh guru Yogi Bhajan says about this mantra, “Besides helping cleanse the subconscious mind, it balances the hemispheres of the brain, bringing compassion and patience to the one who meditates on it.” You can listen to a sample of this Sikh chant that helps to cultivate courage here: https://www.spiritvoyage.com/mp3download/Prem/Snatam-Kaur/ALB-001054.aspx, it’s the 4th song on the album Prem.
Little did I know that after chanting it as part of a daily practice for about nine months, I would hear a voice within, “You know you need to write.”
Before those nine months of a committed daily practice, I would never have had the courage to write and to share my writing in the world. I didn’t even have the guts to admit to myself that I wanted to write.
Over time, I uncovered a deep-seated fear of humiliation. A fear of people laughing at me. On some level I’d feared that writing would provide a whole new opportunity for people to laugh at me.
Happily, this fear is an old scar now, not a fresh, raw wound. But every word I share still threatens to rip open that old wound.
I’ve found that holding my ego like a beloved pet and laughing at it when it wants to be in charge, is a balm for this old wound. But writing and sharing my writing still makes me feel vulnerable.
The healing effect of chants, mantras and sacred sound currents, and how they can engage spiritual growth, were revealed to me through Rev. Stephanie’s guidance. I invite you to establish your own spiritual practice with a chant or mantra that may resonate with you.
Rev. Camilla Sanderson, author of The Mini Book of Mindfulness (Running Press/Hachette, 2016) https://www.amazon.com/Mini-Book-Mindfulness-Meditation-Practices/dp/0762457929/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535388190&sr=8-1&keywords=mini+book+of+mindfulness, was ordained an interfaith minister in 2014, and she earned her MFA in Creative Non-Fiction Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2017. She is a Guide for the Interfaith Seminary program offered online through the Tree of Life Interfaith Temple: https://www.tolinterfaithtemple.org/overview.html. This program involves a two-year commitment to a daily spiritual practice, an overview study of world religions, and an in-depth study of the ancient Hindu sacred text, The Bhagavad Gita—Hinduism being the oldest religion in the world with a recorded written text. It would be Camilla’s delight, privilege and honor to walk with you through your own spiritual journey as you excavate your inner treasures that will support you in sharing your light in the world.Browse Front PageShare Your Idea
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