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A Mantra For All: Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah...

Hi! 🌙

So, lots of people have been asking me about the mantra I often chant at the end of practice. 

It's very rare for me to end a practice without some kind of mantra these days and I often choose mantras that have some kind of bearing upon the specific practice we are doing or even the time of year. For me, the closing mantra rounds off the practice and indicates a kind of "seal" for the energy created during the session. As my practice has deepened and my teaching has developed, the use of mantra has become an integral part of the process and is as important to me as the postures themselves.  

I love using Sanskrit mantras for many reasons. Firstly, because I love the sound of this language and it really makes me feel connected to the heritage of this wonderful practice of yoga. I think it is important to keep the roots and the reasons for practising yoga at the forefront of this practice otherwise it just becomes the performance of a series of complicated movements without meaning. This is also why you'll hear me using Sanskrit names for postures as we practice together. The vibration of the Sanskrit words has a magic all its own and I feel like if we lose that, we lose an entire layer of this beautiful gift that's been handed down across many centuries and through many cultures. 

So, onto the mantra itself!

Firstly, here's what it looks like in Devanagari script:

ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः ।

सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु मा कश्चिद्दुःखभाग्भवेत् ।

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

And transliterated into our alphabet:

Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinaha - Sarve Santu Niramayaha
Sarve Bhaadrani Pashyantu - Maa Kaschid Dukha Bhaag Bhavet
Om Shantih Shantih Shantih

In English, this all means:

Om May all be happy, may all be free from illness
May all see what is auspicious, may no-one suffer
Om Peace Peace Peace

It's that simple! Or is it?

There's no doubt that if you chant this mantra without grasping its meaning, you'll still feel the benefits on some level because, simply by putting this message out to the universe, the energy is being shared. However, getting a deeper understanding of the meaning behind these words is key to gaining the wider benefits of this beautiful prayer.

Though the prayer comes originally from the Hindu tradition, there is no doubt that the energy created by speaking these words is available to all beings regardless of religion, beliefs or culture. You don't need to follow any religion to use these mantras as part of your practice.

This is a universal prayer. It promotes kindness and compassion as well as peace and calmness of mind, body and spirit. We are asking for wellbeing and happiness for all beings and indeed, everything in the entire universe... ALL THINGS as an entire collective of which we are part and whole. Therefore when you wish this energy for everyone and all, you are wishing it for yourself as you are part of everyone and all! 

Sometimes, we feel separate and alone. This then leads us to turn away from the "all", shielding and protecting ourselves and further leading us into isolation. We forget that we are part of "all" and this brings us into disconnect, suffering, anxiety and worry.
Chanting this mantra realigns us with our oneness and returns us into that peaceful state.

Looking at this from a slightly different angle, think about Human empathy which leads us to feel what we see around us. If we see suffering, it leads us to feel bad, sad, angry... similarly, when we see joy, we feel uplifted. By putting out positive energy and giving it to others, we can see it in them and therefore it is reflected back to us. This makes us feel better too and everyone wins! So, selfishly, we wish peace and joy and health for others because at the basic level, that is what we wish for ourselves... so by being selfish, we are also being selfless - because the whole universe is family and we all want what's best for our family, right?

Sukha vs Dukha

[Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinaha] 
Sukha literally means "good space" or happiness and stability. When everything is in alignment, we experience Sukha and this is where we naturally want to be. Imagine a wheel on a cart... if it is aligned and centered, the cart runs smoothly. This is Sukha.

[Maa Kaschid Dukha Bhaag Bhavet] 
Dukha is the opposite. Suffering, instability and stress. When that cart wheel goes off centre, we get a bumpy ride and eventually the cart will be forced to stop or could even injure us. 

Wishing for Sukha helps negate the Dukha, creating joy, taking away suffering and bringing peace for all beings.

Pashyantu: The Mirror that Reflects

[Sarve Bhaadrani Pashyantu]
We wish for all to see what is auspicious and that which is good... because we are part of the all and what we put out is what we see reflected back at us. 

In other words:
What we see is what we experience.
When we see goodness, we feel good. 
When we feel good, we put out goodness and in turn see it reflected back at us...

...and so it continues...

Pray for others what you wish for yourself... we all want healthy and happy lives!

Bodymind Connection

It makes sense that whenever we become unhealthy (short or long term), we are unhappy in ourselves. It's hard to be happy when you're feeling unwell.

Similarly, if we are in a constant state of stress, unhappiness, sadness and anger, this can lead to DIS-EASE or physical disease and illness.

The body and the mind are inexorably connected and by looking after the one, we are caring for the other. 
Furthermore, all our souls and existences are in some way joined, too... we are all the product of billions af years of evolution, billions of years of matter joining, breaking, forming new matter, creating new connections and eventually ending up here on earth across the vast reaches of the universe... who knows where the elements that make up our being were originally formed...!!! (I know, it boggles the mind, it really does...)
But the upshot of this is: by caring for ourselves as individuals we are also caring for everything else because we are all connected - every person, every animal, every tree, plant and flower, every rock, every river, every star and every planet, every atom, every energy quanta... you get the idea... 

Prayer for Peace
At the end of the mantra, we chant the ultimate mantra for peace - literally peace: Shantih.
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः
Om Shantih Shantih Shantih
Om Peace Peace Peace

: OM
Om is the primordial seed of all sounds, of all matter in the universe. It is the basic vibration of all existence. 
By chanting Om, we cleanse the energy around us and prepare the way for the words that follow. The Om chant aligns us with the vibrations of each other and the universe as a whole. It calms and focuses our minds and therefore amplifies and enables the power of our words and intentions.

शान्तिः : Shantih
Shantih means peace. Chanting this 3 times has a special significance as 3 is a very special number (try and think of as many different "trinities" as you can and you'll soon realise there's lots!)
But when I think of "why 3 shantihs," for me it's a bit of each of these 2:

peace for mind 
peace for body
peace for spirit

and also

peace for me
peace for you
peace for all

Chanting as a Whole

Chanting reaches all parts of you. It is a powerful tool in meditation.
This is not just about reciting some words you have learned by rote and not fully understood (although as previously mentioned, reciting the words is not without power, of course!). It is about fully understanding the words you speak and hear. The words reach you at a heart level and touch your emotions. They gain power through you speaking them with intention and then, even if you get them a little bit wrong, the intention remains pure and the message carries through. 
The power of the mind is infinite and as such is treated as sacred.
Chanting focuses the mind to the point where we can release ourselves from the confines of the physical body and travel into the realm of the infinite. We can lose ourselves in the process of chanting and, especially when in the company of others, can raise some amazing vibrational power that feels amazing, adds to our sense of connection and wellbeing as well as creating good energy to send out into the universe.

Do you have a favourite mantra or chant? I'd love to know!

Love and Light to you all!
Cheryl
The Yoga Bohemian


Sources:
https://truthultimate.com/sarve-bhavantu-sukhinah/
https://yogabharati.org/article-blog/sarve-bhavantu-sukhinah
https://www.prekshayoga.com/benefits-of-mantra-chanting/

And here is a good guide on how to chant the mantra:

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