There are those moments, that you will pass a lifetime and still be able to inhabit. The ones that stick. The ones that were so powerful, no matter where you are, you can close your eyes and feel the same sensations arising, the same sounds, the same smells.
For me, one of those moments happened early on during my Yoga Teacher Training at the Pavones Yoga Center. We sat down in the afternoon to work with mantra, just as the dark tropical afternoon storm clouds began to appear. After closing our eyes and working with our breath, the gentle voice of Indira sang out for all of us to follow: Ohm, Ohm, Ohm, Ohm, So ham, So ham, So ham, So Ham, Ham Sa, Ham Sa, Ham sa, Ham sa. It seems almost silly to write it in words—I’ve looked for online videos but cannot find one. She repeated over and over, as our class responded, Ohm So ham Ham Sa—I am that, I am, that I am, I am that—I am that, that, all that is.
As we continued chanting, the light rain began to echo our quiet song. As we continued, getting deeper and stronger, the clouds reverberated, shaking out thunder and rattling our bones, stirring the forest, so that even the monkeys were calling along with us. The connection was complete—our song was the song of the world, the song of all that was, that is, that ever will be. In this moment, there was no doubt that the imagined self was simply a part of the flowing river of energy, prana, lifeforce.
They say that the power of mantra comes not only from the concentration and mediation, but from the vibrations of each sound, the way they resonate through your body. This weekend, leading a 3-day yoga retreat for college students, I had the opportunity at the end of our last sadhna by sharing this mantra. We were in an old wooden lodge this time, with only spiders and dustbunnies to share the song. However, the power of the mantra did not fail. I was half way through the first round, when the tears began to well up inside, as if the universe was answering—YES! Yes, you are! We are!
A favorite poet of mine, Anis Mojgani shares the following line in his poem, Shake the Dust. “Speak every time you stand so that you do not forget yourself”.
For me, speaking this mantra is a reminder to live in the world I was given, with open eyes and an open heart. To remember how very small each daily stress feels when we are able to put it next to the grandness of being, the exquisiteness of the universe. So Ham Ham Sa! When the bus is late—So hum! When you’ve burned the granola (again): Ham sa! When you inhabit the fear of never being truly loved: Ohm So Ham Ham Sa! In the small moments, remember.
“What made the beauty of the moon?
And the beauty of the sea?
Did that beauty made you?
Did that beauty make me?
Will that make me something? Will I be something? Am I something?
And the answer comes: already am, always was, and I still have time to be.”
— Anis Mojgani