Contemplations from the 13th lesson on the Shiva Sutras.
Sutra 12: CHITTAM MANTRAH
Let your mind become the mantra…retrain your mind to liberate itself from its self- imposed contraction.
YOGA SANCTUARY DISCLAIMER: This Sutra is for universal consumption, by all earnest aspirants. No experience of mantra is required. We repeat, no previous experience of working with mantra is necessary for the application of this Sutra or for enjoying any and all benefits which may ensue… smiley
So mantra means a device which liberates the mind from its own contraction. Mantra sets the mind free, allowing it to open from its self-imposed tightness and expand accordingly. It’s often a syllabic combination or stream of words ( OM NAMAH SHIVAYA, OM GAM GANAPATAYI NAMAHA or I AM, for example ) that is designed to open and liberate your mind.
Why though is Shiva saying, ‘Let your mind become the mantra’ ??
In the early days of travelling the path to spiritual liberation; and, to a lesser extent, later on during the journey, we encounter the restlessness of our minds. This restlessness, this ceaseless churning and chewing, seemingly random and inescapable, is, we discover early on, simply the nature of ‘Mind’; pretty universal, just the purpose of the apparatus so to speak. Problem solving, pattern spotting, analysis, judgement, vigilance, protection and projection. The list of functions it autonomously performs, chewing and churning, roiling and restless, just goes on and on and on... This is not a problem per se, it’s simply what the mind has been conditioned to do. And it’s gonna do it whether we want it to stop or not. Although in the long run, some way down the path, it is possible to slow and sedate the mind’s thought making process, at first and for some considerable time in the earlier stages of treading the path, the mind’s momentum is essentially unstoppable. And trying to still such a juggernaut can cause more problems than it solves. If, for instance, there is a thought form which is repetitive and irritating, wreaking havoc in your psyche, have you ever tried to stop it in its tracks? What we discover is that the very attempt to resist and subdue the psychic irritant has quite the opposite effect; that of energising the thought current and amplifying it further still!! Moreover, by getting hooked into this pattern with the mental tormentor in this way, our energetic frequency inevitably drops and we then become subject to all kinds of thoughts that we would simply not have, or at least be less affected by if our energy was higher ( see Sutra #1 CHAITANYAMATMA ). And so a vicious downward spiral of energy leakage and inner turmoil ensues… not pretty and not clever! So what to do!?
Well Shiva, the true teacher, has this to say on the matter smiley, look, we can’t stop the mind just yet and it needs something to be going on with, it needs to be occupied one way or another. That’s just the nature of the beast, accept it and let’s start from there. Once we accept the inexorable fact of the mind’s insatiable need for thought production, we can look a little closer and notice that not only is it a relentless thought manufacturer, but that ostensibly all the mind’s febrile machinations share a central theme. This theme is a ‘me-centred’ superbias which never strays far from ‘I’ ‘me’ ‘mine’ and very occasionally certain other things, but only in as much as how those certain other things affect or are connected to ‘I’ ‘me’ ‘mine’. So, says Mahadev, the nature of mind with its tireless, me-centric momentum and its refusal to be deterred from its raison d’etre ( i.e. thought production ) has to be worked with not fought against. It needs to be finessed not forced. And the prescription given by Lord Shiva for such a tricky task? MANTRA! Mantra as alternative. Mantra as distraction. Mantra as awakener. Mantra as illuminant.
Shiva’s point here is to give the mind something to chew on so it can leap off this me-centric merry-go-round and then expand into the celestial realms beyond the cramped and limited ego. Only then can it open out into something bigger than thinking about yours truly over and over and over ad nauseum. So with this purpose in mind, an alternative thought is given in the shape of a mantra. This can serve as a distraction from the repetitive irritant or at least as an awakener to the fact that we are caught in the mind rut. Or else as an illuminant to show up just how and to what extent our mind has become occupied by this incessant brain-bug.
Whichever way the mantra works within these approaches, it’s a good thing as it has created some space between us and the thought pattern, some vital space which wasn’t there before… this ushers in the beginning of self-discovery and then, in time, self-mastery. No longer are we the impotent captives of the mind, instead we have a versatile tool for liberation and expansion; this tool is portable, rust-resistant and guaranteed for life…this tool is mantra!
It’s truly a wonderful gift that such an empowering and liberating method of mind moderation is ours to use in a variety of ways, but perhaps its most effective use is to bring us out of the headspace and then to drop us down a foot into the heartspace ( see Sutra #9 HRIDAYE CHITTASANGHATTAD DRISYASVARPADARSHANAM ). It can be any orthodox mantra ( e.g. OM NAMAH SHIVAYA etc. ) or even just a thought form such as ‘How’s my breath?’ or ‘ where am I located right now, head or heart?’ really anything to jog us out of the mind rut and into that higher awareness of our deeper truth and the connection we have to God, Life, The Universe, call it what you will.
Shiva’s declaring that not only will the mantra effect immediate liberation from the bondage of repetitive, often unwholesome thought-streams but that over a sustained period of practice ( those loyal buddies patience and perseverance weighing in again smiley ) we can actually use the mind’s relentless and dogged nature to our advantage. We do this by transferring its emphasis from the monotonous, often negative repetition of me-centric malarkey, onto an inspiring, affirmative mantra for our upliftment and energetic economy. He’s saying introduce this device for liberation of the mind and it can be awesome First Aid for overworked brains, but that equally it can also be like a course of antibiotics to help disinfect the chronic conditions of the psyche which are bleeding energy like an open window in winter.
So ‘Let your mind become the mantra, retrain it to liberate itself from its own constriction’. This way expansion, peace and joy, with space for the higher intelligence to enjoy dominion and expression can then manifest.
“LET YOUR MIND BECOME THE MANTRA”
“LET YOUR MIND BECOME THE MANTRA”
“LET YOUR MIND BECOME THE MANTRA” ……and repeat x108 :-)
~ by Elliot Donnelly (Yoga Sanctuary Student).