During the Covid Era, I find myself with a lot of time on my hands for random activities. Not that I get anything accomplished. All of 2020 has seemed fluid, as if we’re floating in a sea of confusion. But I have a new book to promote–Take a Deep Breath, written with Sandra McLanahan–so I’ve been updating my website and looking into using social media more often to promote my “brand”.
With that in mind, a few weeks ago I began a short online meditation “sound bath” on Instagram live. I have a collection of brass singing bowls, some percussion instruments from all over the world, and a metallophone, which is like a xylophone with metal bars instead of wood. The 20 minute practice uses these instruments in an improvisational way to bring the awareness into the sound, to become one with the sound, to become one with the All. I add a few comments to guide the meditation, but mostly I let the music speak for itself. I was meditating every morning anyway, I figured I might as well share it, and hopefully feel more connected. Connected to myself, and connected to you.
In Yoga, we have infinite methods of connecting to our True Nature, which is transcendant peace and bliss. There are practices for all different types of moods, different types of personalities. I would identify myself as a Bhakti Yogi–I find joy in devotion through singing, playing music, creating music. Other Bhakti practices include more formal worship, such as the Catholic mass, the sacred dancing of the Sufis, or the Hindu puja. You may have your own Bhakti practice–it could be a simple as taking a walk in the woods or a swim in the sea.
The great thing about Yoga is that Bhakti is only one of the branches of Yoga. If one branch doesn’t suit you, try another! When I first started taking Yoga classes in the 60’s, I was drawn to Hatha Yoga–the branch of Yoga focusing on postures and breathing exercises that we think of today when we think of a Yoga class. It was through my desire to learn about Yoga that I found Integral Yoga ®, a type of Yoga that promotes not only Hatha, and Bhakti, but the other branches, including Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga, Japa, and Jnana Yoga. Over the nearly 50 years I’ve been studying and practicing Yoga, I have been drawn to all these other practices at one time or another. There are times when I’m mostly doing service–Karma Yoga–such as the time I spent looking after my elderly mother who was suffering with Alzheimers. In my Raja Yoga periods, I have spent countless hours studying the scriptures of Sri Patanjali, the ancient classic The Yoga Sutras. Japa Yoga is part of my every day practice–mantra repetition. Finally, Jnana Yoga is the study of self. Analyzing and pondering the ancient question, “Who am I?’ .
As I continue my online meditations (Thursdays at 9:30 am EST on IG), I see it as a devotional practice. It may evolve into something other than bells and bowls–perhaps some chanting, or, don’t be surprised if some Christmas carols sneak in. We might do several repetitions of the Gayatri Mantra, the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra, or the Guru Gita. Bhakti Yoga is the easiest path to the Divine. All we have to do is take our seat and enter a state of devotion. I hope you join me. Let’s ride the waves of sacred sound vibrations together and lift our spirits higher.