My friend Abida Rahman, the founder of Rah Inc. and the woman behind rahinc.ca dropped by for an interview recently. We spoke about deep life stuff and she revealed her inspiration behind what she does, the pain that she was trying to overcome that made her start this work, her definition of spirituality, how to meditate, how to pray and connect with a higher power. She also reveals her latest projects here!
In this video, I talk about OM Chanting and why it’s so awesome. What I don’t talk about on the YouTube though is the actual transformation I went through because of the consistent practice of OM Chanting.
As you know from my blog, I moved to Australia at the beginning of 2014. The Universe somehow arranged for me to give my first OM Chanting Workshop at a yoga studio and from that, I was offered a weekly time slot to hold regular OM Chantings at the same studio.
What I didn’t share in this video is that change that OM Chanting initiated in me and led me through. When I first moved to Australia my priorities were my relationship, my social life, my living standard, the nightlife, and my social standing. By the time I left Australia one year later, I was almost ready to live a much simpler life and renounce the “outer world” preferring to focus within instead. At the beginning of that year, I was drinking often and by the end of the year, I completely quit drinking alcohol. I went from being in the world to retreating from it completely. I kind of gave it all up and retreated back home to Toronto.
My transformation was maybe a bit too extreme and it’s probably because of the fact that I was consistently attending OM Chanting circles every single week for almost 11 months. I was also doing my Atma Kriya Yoga meditation every day in addition to the fact that I was very far away from home and that makes you introspective. Not everyone has the same intensity in their personal transformation as I did but whether you see it or not, trust that you are going through a significant transformation every single time you participate in OM Chanting.
OM Chanting burns karma, and it is extremely purifying for you as you chant, for all the participants and also for the entire area around the circle. You are transformed every single time you attend an OM Chanting circle. You are not the same person as when you started a circle as after it is over, and this is true every single time you attend an OM Chanting, whether it is your first time or your 365th time.
I invite you to join an OM Chanting circle and experience it for yourself. Find a circle near you here: sadhana.bhaktimarga.org.
You know those awful family conflicts when two people you love, usually your parents, are having a big fight in front of you and you just have to sit there cringing and watch them humiliate themselves as they hurl insults at each other?
Well, I was the “innocent bystander” of a fight like this last week. I watched a fight break out in a chat group I belong to where things got a bit heated when a few of my friends started arguing about a touchy subject.
It’s sad to say this but I felt like an “innocent bystander who got shot by a stray bullet” to be precise because the words thrown around in that heated argument hurt me a lot. The most hurtful comment that one friend made to another was this:
“What makes you think that you are qualified enough to teach others about XYZ?”
That comment pierced me like a bullet. I’m still trying to understand why I was so hurt by it. I think I took this comment personally even though it was directed to someone else. It felt like as if someone was confronting me, asking me what makes me think I am qualified to do anything that I do.
The comment triggered an inferiority complex in me that had been dormant for a little while. The irony is that my inferiority complex is completely unfounded and is just another device I created to sabotage myself.
People, especially women, do this all the time. We sabotage our friendships by disrespecting our friends, we sabotage our relationships by not being willing to compromise, we sabotage our careers by playing small and we sabotage our lives by not stepping up and rising to the challenge. A comment like “What makes you think you are qualified enough…?” is the surest way to trigger an inferiority complex and shrink a person down to a level far below her true being, discredit her capacity and rob her from her potential.
Stop giving yourself an inferiority complex
How do you then deal with a comment like this? Well, let’s just try to answer the question straight up, but before we do that, I would argue that we don’t have to qualify ourselves to others. We have to qualify ourselves to us.
What makes me think I’m qualified enough to teach XYZ? Well, I think that I’m qualified enough, and therefore I teach.
Responsibility vs Arrogance
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not just making a wild claim when I say that I am qualified to teach anything I randomly wish to teach, but I am qualified to teach certain things that I have the qualified myself to teach.
Again, this may sound arrogant. You might be asking, “OK Ritu, What do you mean by qualify yourself to teach? Who gave you the right to do this?”
Qualifying oneself to teach something, to do certain work, to take on certain roles and duties is a big responsibility that one takes upon oneself.
I’ll repeat that. Standing up and teaching something to others is a big responsibility and having the necessary education, training, and qualifications to do it right is a responsibility that the teacher has taken upon her shoulders.
And it is not easy.
In fact, it is really scary and you are constantly asking yourself, “Who am I to be doing this work? Who am I to be teaching this?” That was the biggest challenge that I had to overcome when I became an Atma Kriya Yoga teacher and it even had me crying in the bathroom in the middle of my teacher training. I kept saying to myself “But I’m not good enough! How can I possibly represent the teachings of such great Masters? Why me?”
Slowly, I had a revelation. I realized that my Guru Paramahamsa Vishwananda had personally approved my application and even though I didn’t trust myself to spread his teachings, HE did. He trusted me. He had faith in me that I would be a good Atma Kriya Yoga teacher even though my own mind was trying to convince me of something different.
So, what makes me think that I am qualified to teach XYZ? I do, because I have earned the qualification through training, testing myself, my own desire to learn and also to teach. Most importantly, I am qualified through the grace of my Guru because without his Grace, none of this would be possible.
Now that I have the “qualification” or self-approval and now that I have assumed the responsibility and consequences of doing my job as a teacher, I can answer that piercing question.
Everyone has one. Do you know what your personal mantra is?
Unfortunately for many of us women, our personal mantra is, “I’ll be happy when I am thin/earn more money/have that handbag/have a boyfriend” and the list goes on and on.
And I’m sad to say that is inevitable.
The mind is constantly chanting a mantra because that’s just what the mind does. It is always active and always focused on one predominant thought. That one thought that keeps coming back over and over again is more often negative than it is positive.
Affirmations are Just Mantras
The wonderful secret is that we can use this natural tendency of the mind to constantly chant a mantra and turn it into a positive thing – just by changing the mantra.
Just change the negative thought into a positive thought or better yet, an affirmation. Louise Hay is the queen of affirmations and I personally love her. I had the chance to meet her once and she was like a little child; innocent and so in love with life!
I have to be completely honest. Even though I love Louise Hay, I never enjoyed affirmations. They just didn’t work for me. I am more of a traditonalist when it comes to mantras because well, I like my mantras in Sanskrit!
The real meaning of Mantra
First of all, the word mantra is a Sanskrit word. When you break it down, man (pronounced munn) mean mind and tra means protection, and that’s exactly what a mantra does. It protects your mind from negativity and it also protects you from your mind.
Chanting a mantra or doing Japa as the practice of chanting is called in yoga speak is extremely powerful as a spiritual tool and even modern day Western teachers such as Wayne Dyer has taught this practice. Japa and chanting is also the one practice that my Guru, Paramahamsa Vishwananda stresses the most as it has the power to take you furthest, quickest.
My personal experience with Mantras
As I mentioned before, affirmations never worked on me but mantras did from the very first time I tried them out. The first time I heard the most powerful mantra I’ve ever heard was in an Atma Kriya Yoga class and it was OM Namo Narayanaya.
But before I share that story with you, let me tell you about Project Mantra.
Project Mantra is a part of BM Sadhana and it has rocked my world!
I first started Project Mantra back in 2013 with the Gayatri Mantra. I happened to be on vacation in Turkey and decided that I would chant for 15 minutes while floating in the sea with my ears just below the surface of the water. It was probably too much in hindsight because suddenly I could perceive the bottom of the sea and the earth beyond that, and in a way the immensity of the earth, and it scared me a lot! I still finished chanting that day but didn’t continue chanting the Gayatri Mantra after that.
OM Namo Narayanaya on the other hand felt completely safe and so familiar from the very moment I heard it. When I first took my Atma Kriya Yoga course, the moment my teacher shared the mantra, I felt comfortable and I knew in my soul that I was home. All my apprehension about being that Atma Kriya Yoga evaporated and I let my guard down completely, probably for the first time in years.
This time around, I started the New Year by starting a new Project Mantra with a group of friends. It’s a 40 day project that involves chanting your chosen mantra (either OM Namo Narayanaya or the Gayatri Mantra) for 15 minutes for the first 10 days, 30 minutes for the next 10 days, 45 minutes for the next 10 days and finally 1 hour for the final 10 days. The catch is that if you miss one day, then you have to start all over again from the beginning.
It’s not as easy as it sounds so if you’re up for the challenge, I highly recommend starting the project and seeing if you can complete it! I’m still in the process after having to restart once already.
You will fall in love with Japa and chanting meditations just like me, if you give it a chance. It is so much easier to combine it with music and so I’m giving a workshop alongside a friend of mine to introduce you to singing mantras and to Project Mantra. I hope you will join me.
What: Learn to Sing Mantras Workshop in Toronto
When: February 24th, 2017
Time: 9pm – 10pm
Where: OCTCM, 283 Spadina Rd., Third Floor
$10 $5 online – PREPAY
It’s been a white since my last video so I made this quickly to share a few quick updates with you, also to talk to you about identity crisis. If you want aaaalll the details, sign up for my newsletter at TheLifester.com/newsletter because I share a lot more openly there.
And like and comment if you want me to share more videos! I like comments. I really really REALLY like comments.
Ps. If you want to know more about my spiritual path, check out my about page: http://thelifester.com/about
Pps. My Guru is Paramahamsa Vishwananda and his channel is: https://www.youtube.com/user/bhaktimarga108