It's a beautiful day. The sun is out. I did yoga this morning while listening to the Gayatri Mantra. I heard about this mantra from my yoga teacher. We don't chant it in class, but she wrote about it on her blog.
Ever since I first heard monks chanting at a Buddhist funeral in Thailand, I've been in love with chants. It's been a secret, shy sort of love. I've felt all sorts of emotions about chanting - from awe to a deep sense of peace and joy to worrying that I'll look or sound silly if I follow suit to wondering if it's too close to that dangerous edge of euphoria-seeking singing that I did when I was a born again Christian, many many moons ago (the answer to the latter is, I think, that it can be - it all depends on what you cling to). So I've never really chanted much. Sometimes at the beginning and/or end of yoga classes, sometimes by myself at home, sometimes while listening to cds. The most I chanted was when I was heavily pregnant with Jake and I was battling with my own fears, an unsupportive midwife and the stony face of the hospital when I decided to have a home birth. In those last few weeks, I listened to chants of Om Mani Padme Hum constantly. I love that that chant is sung. That particular chant is said to invoke a Buddha of Compassion and it made me feel calm and helped me to believe that everything was going to be okay. Sounds cheesy, but it helped.
Last night I did indeed watch Eat Pray Love. It wasn't quite as cheesy as I was expecting it to be. In fact as a film adaptation, I think they did the best they could with it. It was already two hours long and yet felt like they'd condensed far too much for my liking, making a lot of difficult issues seem too simplistically resolved. All that aside, the middle part of the film, when she goes to India, reminded me of my love of chants and this morning I did a random search for chants on youtube.
I came across the Gayatri Mantra and reread what Hayley wrote about it on her blog. I love the idea that it came out of a situation that began with a tortured moment. That enlightenment can come even when you are trying to bash your head in with a rock.
Then I listened. It's really beautiful. I've been listening and teaching it to myself, and singing it all morning. Even when I stop, I can still hear it going on in my heart. And yes, it has been giving me a deep sense of peace and joy. (And made me realise that peace and joy go together, or that joy seems to arise naturally out of peace). Anyway, I just wanted to share it because even if you don't believe or believe in something else or are cynical about all things spiritual, there is something beautiful about singing a song with all your heart. For a start, it's a wonderful way to Be. And why not a song to invoke enlightenment that is thousands of years old.