Spiritual Shape-Shifting: The Benefits of Dedication to a Devotional Practice (as published in SivanaSpirit in January of 2018)
Don’t you sometimes wish that you could shapeshift? You know that thing that happens in Native American lore where the Shaman becomes an Eagle at just that moment when he needs to employ a much more expansive view of his world. Or when he needs to be strong beyond his own abilities so he becomes a Wolf, finds his strength, and howls at the moon.
What if we could all be shape-shifters? What if we could engage so deeply with the creative flow of the Universe that we could shape-shift and change ourselves. What if we could create better versions of ourselves?
Well, I’m here to tell you that we can. I know this because I am a shape-shifter; a Spiritual Shape-shifter. My tool of choice for shape-shifting is my daily mantra meditation practice
I have learned, through my practice, that I am not a static being, stuck with all of the error of my ways. I have learned that I have the ability to be a wildly creative being, pulsing myself out of all the places where I might feel trapped.
The feeling of being trapped by our thoughts or activities that don’t serve our highest good, is frustrating at best. It can even be downright depressing. If we’re feeling trapped by our thoughts or our habits, we feel stuck. We are lacking forward momentum.
We can look at Eastern philosophy which tells us that we may be in a tamasic state of being (lethargic, confused, maybe even depressed) or in a rajasic state (agitated, angry, aggressive). We may feel a deep yearning for something different, something better. But we don’t know how to change our course. We don’t know how to move from that feeling of yearning to a sense of fullness.
I can say confidently that I connect with the creative pulse of my life most fully as it emanates out from my daily mantra practice.
Mantra is a form of meditation in which one repeats Sanskrit mantras as a means of calming the active mind and swimming with the creative flow. When I’m consistent with my practice, I experience myself shifting from bad habits to better habits. I find myself in an increased flow of creativity.
I’ve studied diligently, over the past few years, to learn the correct Varṇa (pronunciation), Svara (tonal quality) and Mātrā (meter) of this practice. As I sit at my altar every morning and earnestly chant the mantras, I have come to know that they have a shape-shifting quality of their own.
Slowly, but steadily, I have noticed changes in the way I move through the world. I’m experiencing a spiritual metamorphosis of sorts. I guess you could say that I am shape-shifting.
I am no longer so quick to judge. Rather than judgment being my knee-jerk reaction, I have become more curious. My desire to place blame is evolving to an ability to forgive. Where I’ve been inclined to hold animosity, I am now more able to find empathy and compassion. The guilt that I’ve carried has shifted to forgiveness of myself. The physical pain I’d been carrying in my body for so many years has given way to ease and comfort.
My teacher calls this new way of being “Mantric Consciousness”.
When I first began chanting mantra, I knew about the whispered promises that came with committing to the daily practice, but I was pretty sure it would be a long, difficult journey before I found the yellow brick road that could lead me to a peaceful heart.
Well, I was wrong. Each day that I sat at my altar, the practice itself became easier. And soon, it shifted from ease to a sweet anticipation. After practicing regularly for many months, I began to notice my habits of thought and my actions beginning to shift and refine.
If I catch myself being judgmental, I make a turn toward curiosity and, more often than not, my curiosity leads me to compassion. If I find myself engaging in gossip, I think, “This is not who you are,” and I back out of the conversation. I have unearthed a feeling of forgiveness for those who have wronged me. And I have a newfound generosity of heart that thrills me. The part of this practice that fills me the most, however, is that I frequently fall deeply in love, with the world around me, with the people I share space with, and very sweetly, with myself.
I am not a shaman. I am a humble yoga teacher. I may not be able to change myself into an Eagle or a Wolf, but I have learned a secret for shape-shifting. I have learned that my dedication to my spiritual practice is making me a better person.
To read my article as it appeared in SivanaSpirit, copy and paste the link below:
Kathy is a Yogasana (physical yoga) and Nada Yoga (Yoga of Sound) teacher. She facilitates Women's Wisdom Circles, is skilled at storytelling and loves leading heartfelt discussions. She is certified in teaching Sanskrit, Vedic Mantra and other sound based practices.