Mantra is no more an esoteric word that has some secretive essence hidden in the far-off Himalayas with saffron clad or un-clad saints. Mantra is right there in your breath and in every thing that you do. It has its appeal to everyone who is sentient enough to listen to his/her own inner voice.
We present Anandra, who lives on Kaua’i island, Hawaii, and teaches mantra workshops and intensives worldwide, in an email interview with us telling her story how she developed the love for mantra.
For nearly 20 years, she’s been on “the path” and has been teaching and seeing private clients since 1999. An internationally respected mantra teacher, she is frequently invited to teach and lead chanting/kīrtan at the world’s largest yoga festivals. Her students from online meditation groups, workshops, and teacher trainings speak highly about their experiences.
You can visit her website here: TrueFreedomCoaching
Q1. What exactly is mantra yoga?
Mantra yoga is a vast and fascinating subject which spans the most intimate, practical connection between thought, word and deed… to the mystery of creation emanating from silence to sound, and sound to form. I’m sorry I can’t reduce my reply to a simple answer; it would be disrespectful to the Infinite to try!
I can say that everyone has a different entry point of experiencing the magic of mantra. Some grasp the practical benefits immediately, and some fly directly into esoteric expansion. The best way to understand it is to try it yourself, and let the vibrations of the sounds speak to you personally.
Q2. Coming from the West, how did you feel the connection with something that is apparently oriental?
All mystics must seek the source of the soundless sound… so mantra yoga is very definitely universal.
Whether my body was born in the East or the West has little relevance. I appreciate, with awe and wonder, that we’re all given the meat suit that best serves our purpose for a particular incarnation. Mine just happens to be a “Made in America” woman’s body this time! How handy! How fun!
You might wonder how I made my way to India? I was quite surprised to be called to India when I was 18, by Satya Sai Baba, on the inner planes in meditation. He made the arrangements, shall we say, and I came. I knew when I first heard the sound of mantra that I had a very strong previous connection. I learned the Sāvitrī Gāyatrī first, and could remember it very easily.
I kept up a practice and learned many more mantras over the years. It was always when I practiced regularly (either silently or out loud) that I felt the most myself. So, when my father died an early death in 2008, with many unfulfilled dreams buried with his ashes, I vowed to spend my life doing what most inspired me. I’ve been focusing on mantra ever since; deepening my own practice and sharing the gift with others. I’m so inspired by the deep transformation in my international students and clients, I keep going!
Q3. What’s the benefit that a modern person can get from mantra yoga?
At the most basic level, the mantra can be like a life jacket to help us from drowning in negative thoughts, especially during tough times in life. Then, with regular practice, it helps us distinguish between the thinker and the thoughts, giving us the power to create/generate our life experience rather than react as victims of our family/societal conditioning. Eventually, we reach a point I like to call “divinely drunk” when we feel everything within and without pulsing in harmony… I wrote a lot more about the benefits of mantra practice in my free e-book – check it out!
Q4. What kind of clients do you get and what’s their response?
I have worked with all types of people over the past 15 years, but these days I coach mostly leaders, change-makers, teachers of teachers, and others who are really working to refine their service to humanity. It’s such a privilege to help them unravel their stubborn inner obstacles, see new perspectives on issues they’ve struggled with for years, and break through to new vistas of potential. Their response is overwhelmingly gratitude, and I delight in seeing them thrive.
Q5. Can kids be initiated into it?
If you can think, you can do mantra.
The term “initiation” requires further clarity, however. I don’t claim to be a guru or have supernatural powers. I’m simply teaching the practice of mantra for the benefit of all. With sincerity and dedicated practice, the brilliant word-sound-power behind the mantra (which is the guru principle itself) will initiate the practitioner.
One could argue that children — who generally have less covering and conditioning and more purity of heart — are already more tuned in to mantric consciousness than adults. Just observe their natural creativity and joy! Encouraging them to chant their favorite mantra to themselves could help them maintain their inherent brightness throughout their lives.
Q6. What’s your goal as an individual mantra practitioner?
My goal is to harmonize my life inside and out with the infinite love that is otherwise known as God. My own practice has a cyclical pattern, wherein sometimes I’m absorbed in bliss for days or weeks at a time and everything is very expansive and joyous. At other times, I can feel the mantra penetrating my inner membranes of out-dated belief systems, and it’s not necessarily fun to squirm as they get burnt away. During those times, I swallow my own medicine and stick with it. I’ve learned to relish tapasya because I value Truth=Love beyond all else. I keep going because the more pure I am, the more I can inspire and serve others.
Q7. A message to our audience.
Love your meditation! Savor the pause between breaths, the silence after the sound of chanting mantra.
In that magic space, your Self shines unimpeded, and your whole life can begin to project from that pure space.
Most of us chase after that feeling of fullness and peace outside, which we attempt to get from material things, food, relationships, job promotion, etc.
Give yourself radical permission to savor what’s already within you, shining as your very Self! You can access it daily, at will, in your meditation. Then, enjoyment of those temporary material experiences can evolve from craving to a magnificent celebration of abundance!