Chanting the name of Shiva last night in community I realised I’ve recently clocked up 30 years of this practice.
I don’t regard myself as a disciplined type, way to organic and rebellious for that. But on reflection I can see I’ve sung Kirtan (chanting outloud) or done Japa (silently repeated it within) with Shiva mantras nearly every day for over 30 years (98.5% is my muscle test for this). It helped that I quietly played a slow meditative Aum Namah Shivaya chant in my bedroom 24/7 for all that time until just recently. Maybe 30 years was enough of that ‘support,’ ha!
It prompts me to reflect on what has it done for me?
Wow, its done everything! Everything of importance in healing, awakening and enriching my life! Sometimes quite directly, but mostly indirectly, like it’s created a field of grace that’s washed through and shaped my entire existence.
Its been my anchor through every challenging inner and outer storm, my north star guiding me, reminding me of what’s of most importance for me, it’s been the balm that has soothed my being over and over, its brought transformational juice liberating me from limited and painful conditioning and situations, its relentlessly drawn me into meditation and often opened up ecstatic states, its created fields of connection, of abiding in non-separateness with others, its directly connected me to lineage and masters and their graces, and I believe it’s the key practice that has magnetised me down a path of attracting incredible energetic initiations, opening and embodying spiritual awakenings, and learning each of the healing modalities I’m so grateful to have benefited from, and honoured to benefit others with.
I can sense it has had so many more positive impacts on my physiology, my consciousness, my life, even my surroundings and community, but that I’m not aware of them in detail or simply don’t grasp the astounding magic involved (even if I can taste it!).
It’s truly been my rock of stability, the fountain of life, my greatest support and unfailingly closest friend. I can see now that it has been my key to connect with the divine/source/god/goodness/love/light/awareness/being… AND it has been the doorway through which THAT has meet/connected/helped/opened in me.
Wow, Aum Namah Shivaya (ॐ नमः शिबय), you truly are the great redeeming mantra!!!
Shivo Hum (शिवो हम)!!!
But what, essentially, does Aum Namah Shivaya mean? For me the interpretation I’ve held deepest is “I honour my inner most self”. It gets more detailed than that of course, with the various sounds corresponding to the different elements and powers or functions of the divine, and it is both about invoking divine transformation, liberation, and honouring its source, while also connecting us with the root of yoga, and all of life, as our own Self.
Aum Namah Shivaya is also known to awaken Kundalini and initiate the spiritual path, aligned to the completion of realising Self as Divine. While I’d already had a Kundalini awakening at 12 years of age, formally receiving the mantra a few years later was still incredibly powerful, important and protective. To receive it intentionally from multiple meditation masters over the years was a form of energetic initiation, making the mantra Chaitanya (चैतन्य), awakened, and enlivened in my system, by the Śakti (शक्ति), the power, of the realiser’s state: each syllable therefore vibrating with the Spanda (स्पन्द), the subtle pulsation of the Self; each syllable arising from and subsiding back into the Self, every time it is repeated, weaving the depths with the surface of life.
Looking back, that seems an accurate description and explanation for the potency and profundity this mantra and Shiva mantras generally have had in my life. Sometimes the spiritual marketing IS true! ha!
Jai Jai Shiva Shambho (जय जय शिव शंभू)!!!
Here’s to what the next 30 years bring 😀
And here’s some links to explain more and give you a listening taste…
> A nice overview: https://www.yogapedia.com/2/7054/meditation/mantra/om-namah-shivaya-mantra
> See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Om_Namah_Shivaya
> Here’s the version of Aum Namah Shivaya I listened to for about 15 years, 24/7: https://www.siddhayoga.org/practices/chanting/om-namah-shivaya-bhupali
> Here’s the version I listened to for the next 15 years, 24/7: https://vimeo.com/255507761
> And yet this is one of my most enjoyed ragas (melodies) for chanting Aum Namah Shivaya: https://www.siddhayoga.org/practices/chanting/om-namah-shivaya-bhairavi
> Where it all started… one of my most repeated chants: https://www.siddhayoga.org/practices/chanting/jaya-jaya-shiva-shambho
Artwork “Naga Baba Kumbh Mela” by Android Jones https://androidjones-obtain.com/products/naga-baba-kumbh-mela