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Can you hear it? It’s [Y]our Song.

by Milissa on July 17, 2011

in Chanting,Health,Nature,Yoga

Sound has always been an important part of my practice. I discovered the spiritual power of sound early on, when I felt the expansive, amplifying effect of chanting Om at the end of yoga class. Many of you have probably experienced that: the way little-old-you moves into oneness with all of creation, as you tone that single syllable with your classmates and teacher to close the practice. Ooooooommm. Even if it starts out sounding a little off key, when the group lets go into the big-O Oneness it’s skin pricklingly beautiful. What’s not to love about that?

What I found, even at the start of my practice over 20 years ago, was that the more I loved sound, as a central element in yoga practice, the more it loved me back. The ear-to-seashell sound of Ujayii breath, the sound of my torso whisking across the mat in cobra during Sun Salutation, the buzzing sound of stillness in Savasana. Listening to these sounds, I felt so present. And then, that grand finale Om-ing, where my vibration expanded and connected me with the Divine, wow! I still get goosebumps when chanting with my students.

Really, what I believe it is about is vibration. We all started as vibration. Before you and I were born we were energy. When we had a chance to take form we jumped into the moment when egg and sperm met and voila!—moi, toi. It makes up the body, and all things in this material world, but vibration is also my Being, and yours, and the Ineffable’s.

At my yoga teacher training at Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas we spent much of the time chanting the names of the One. Shiva, Rama, Ganesha, Sita, Lachsmi, Durga. Chanting for several hours a day really did seem to change my vibration. The samskaras—35 years of accumulated blocks of energy in the form of headaches, depression, anxiety, bellyaches—began to roll off with all the asana and pranayama. The Bhakti practice—in which chanting in devotion to God is a central focus—gave me a direct means for awakening to Love, once I let go of the old, habitual ways of being.

But, it wasn’t until a few years later—at Kripalu Center in the Berkshire Mountains, during my Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy training—that I discovered a song that matches my own personal vibration. The sound is soothing and, at the same time, sweetly melancholy, as it acknowledges the samskaras, and helps me to release them. After a particularly potent session of yoga therapy, I went down to Lake Mahkeenac, to nurse a migraine. From late afternoon, through twilight, I rocked myself, paced and moved intuitively on the earth. I felt the depth of the pain, and at the same time (maybe for the first time in my life) I felt whole while experiencing it.

As the full moon came up over the lake that night, I began to tone. A tune came out of me that soothed all the blood vessels that had been gripping inside my head. The sounds that came out of my mouth soothed my stomach, relaxed my nerves. The moon grew impossibly big and brilliant over the lake and I kept repeating the two lines of the song that the earth gave me that night.

Recently, dealing with the difficulty of having a seriously ill family member, this healing song came back to me. Sitting under one of my favorite trees, I began to tone the melody. Over and over. Until I felt strong enough to face what I needed to.

I invite you to go somewhere that you feel the power of the natural elements—perhaps sit with your back against a tree. Ask the earth for healing. Then listen. Listen deeply. Can you hear it? It’s your song.

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