Special note: A few nights ago, I watched a movie set in the late 1960s-‘70s. At one point, the storyline gave way to a musical montage. A longtime Marvin Gaye fan, I relished the reminder of one of my favorite songs of his. This morning, the musical flashback proved all too relevant: https://youtu.be/57Ykv1D0qEE
I have a distinct memory from my childhood in the late ‘60s. Living next door to what was at the time a primarily black-attended theological seminary, I remember waking up one night to the sound of my parents rushing up and down the stairs. I then recall my father talking to someone outside in the darkness; next, I heard him back inside on the telephone. What we learned the next day was that riots had broken out downtown during the night, and that the fervor had spread to the neighboring seminary. Those were the days of Martin Luther King, Jr., and frequent civil rights protests.
Today’s Silent Sunday follows a volatile Saturday here in Rochester, NY. As of 9:00 last night, the city had imposed a curfew, due to initially peaceful protests that turned to chaos and looting. That this local lockdown has occurred during the wider lockdown of the corona virus lends a sickening absurdity to the already horrific reason for the outcries. Last week, the stark, seemingly never-ending reality of racism reappeared in the death of George Floyd, an African-American, while detained and “subdued” by a white Minneapolis, MN, police officer. As a result, people of all colors and creeds have felt the need to express their outrage and despair.
To awaken this morning to the depths of enforced citywide lockdown borne of civil unrest is at once saddening and enlightening. Humanity probably will forever be in a state of “unrest”: The nature of evolution inherently entails entropy and disruption. Yet in order to insure that change takes on as much beneficial energy as it can while enduring its inevitable process, righteous anger needs to be undergirded with hope and beneficence.
In order to honor the dismay that underlies the rage of protest, this Silent Sunday calls upon a mantra to invoke Peace and promote Unity. The practice includes movement to connect the expansiveness of the Universe with the earthly realm, and concludes with focused meditation. When chanted with mudra, the mantra empowers the energy of connection between all, and all with the Infinite.
The mantra that will be chanted throughout the practice is: Ang Sang Wahe Guru (ahng sahng; both sound like “long,” and wah-hey goo-roo). The director of training at the Kundalini Research Institute, Gurucharan Singh, offered the following commentary on the mantra’s meaning and purpose: “…It reconnects every fragmented projection of the psyche, each separate part of the body, and synchronizes the finite sense of self [with] the Infinite Oneness. … Under attack, under war, under the presence of fear, this meditation keeps us together [and] conscious…. It brings the inner peacefulness that comes only from the touch and scope of Spirit.”
To begin, come onto all fours for 2 minutes of traditional Cat/Cow spinal flexes. Use the first few rounds to find your rhythm and depth of movement. Then, add the mantra: As you extend the spine by lifting the tail and opening the chest, chant, “Ang Sang;” as you flex the spine by rounding the back, dropping the head, and tucking the tail, chant, “Wahe Guru.” Continue for the allotted time.
From all fours, sit back into a squat; it is okay if your heels can not fully descend, as you will be moving in and out of the deep squat pose. From the squat, lift the buttocks, extend the legs, and let the lower body come down toward a forward bend. Immediately reverse the movement: Bend the knees, drop the hips to the heels, and reset the torso and head to an upright position. For the first few, inhale as the buttocks lift and head goes down; exhale to return to the squat. When you are comfortable with the move, add the mantra: “Ang Sang” in the forward bend position; “Wahe Guru” in the squat. Continue for 2 minutes.
As you end the previous move in squat, push from there into Downward Dog. Move from the pose forward into plank. If possible, pass through plank directly into Upward Dog; you may need to stop at plank until your body feels ready to fulfill Up Dog. Again, use the first few rounds in and out of Down and Up Dog to acclimate the body: Inhale into Up Dog, exhale into Down. Then, when you are ready, add the mantra: “Ang Sang” in the Upward Dog position; “Wahe Guru” as you find Downward Dog. Continue for 2 minutes.
Now that the movement portion of the practice has rooted you through the First Chakra, and simultaneously shifted energy into the Upper Triangle of chakras, the optimal environment for meditation upon the mantra has been prepared.
Come into your favorite seated posture. Bring the backs of the hands together in front of the Heart center; edges of index fingers pressing into the sternum; fingers point down; elbows to the sides. With your eyes “nine-tenths” open, gaze at the tip of the nose. Chant the mantra in a whisper for 3 minutes.
Special note: If your eyes begin to ache or tire, take a moment to close them, circle them, or otherwise release the tension. Then, return to the slightly open downward gaze.
For the second and final piece of the meditation, turn the hands into traditional Namaste or Prayer mudra: palms together, fingers pointing up, edges of thumbs pressed into the sternal notch, and forearms parallel to the ground. The eyes are closed and turned upward to gaze at the Third Eye. The chant of the mantra becomes silent: Continue for 3-11 minutes.
With the peace and harmony that you have invoked and projected, come into Svasana for as long as you like.