The three session workshop aimed to explore the role of sacred mantra in fostering the quiet mind, psychic aspiration and enhanced body- consciousness in Integral Yoga, in light of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga.
Insights and practical/experiential exercises drawn from Integral Yoga psychology featured in each presentation. All sessions were presented in the context of the effortless engagement with the sacred mantra, as taught by the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.
The facilitator for the programme, Dr. Don Salmon worked as a professional pianist composer in the 1970s and 80s in New York City, performing with dancers, actors and fellow- musicians, as well as composing for theatre, dance and movies. He worked as a clinical psychologist for over 25 years, conducting research on lucid dreams and the use of mindfulness in treatment of pain. Over the course of several decades, he has studied and practised meditative and contemplative methods from various traditions, and, with his wife, Jan Maslow, has written a book on the yoga psychology of Sri Aurobindo, ‘Yoga Psychology and the Transformation of Consciousness’. He has also written a chapter on the practice of Integral yoga for Jonathan Shear’s, ‘The Experience of Meditation’.
The programme explored effortlessness of the quiet mind, effortless arising of the soul’s aspiration and the effortless surrender for the transformation of the body within the context of the repetition of the Name facilitating these. These sessions were an invitation to recognise and experience the possibility of effortlessness. One does not create the quiet mind; one recognises and experiences it. One does not create the aspiration of the Soul. When one gets the mental activity, the vital reactivity and the dullness of the physical out of the way – the aspiration of the Soul is there for us to experience. Similarly, transformation cannot be created – you are not the one doing the transformation. In the same tune, the Sacred Name – repetition of the Divine Mantra – can come with effortlessness and facilitate the ‘effortless recognition’ of everything else.
The first session focused on Mother and Sri Aurobindo’s guidance for recognising the ever-present quiet underlying our surface consciousness. There is no need to struggle with thoughts. The Quiet Mind is not something we create. The Quiet Mind is already there. In the sixth chapter of the Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna to let his mind be silent like a candle flame in a windless place. Deep within, beneath the winds of desire and fear that cause the mind to be active with thoughts, the Quiet Mind is already present. Rather than struggling with thoughts and the winds of fear and desire, the need is to dive deep into the Atmic sphere – where the Quiet Mind already exists.
When one is present in that Quiet Mind, the Name is spontaneously reverberating. The more one relaxes into the Quiet Mind – into the folds of the Silence – thoughts themselves begin to die down and the Silence takes over. This is our true being.
The second session had its focus on recognition of the ever-present aspiration hidden beneath the surface mental and vital activities. One can’t become awareness; one can’t become the quiet mind; one can’t become the silence – one already is that. Similarly, the aspiration of the heart – bhakti yoga too is not about a technique – it is not about making the aspiration happen. The secret is attention, not just when we are sitting formally but, all day long – being aware on where our attention is focused. Is it focused on the wandering thoughts about the past and the future or is there a willingness to dive deep into the Atmic sphere? Is the attention focused on needs and desires or are we willing to turn our attention to the open spacious ever- present awareness? Are we ready to let go a little of our needs, desires and fears and try to turn our attention to the ever-present yearning aspiration of the heart? The Sacred Name can be experienced as the embodiment of this fixed and unfailing aspiration. The entire creation is yearning for return to its source. The very same yearning in our own hearts is present everywhere and in everything around. This is a beautiful way of sensing that it is not just about us, but the entire creation has this aspiration.
The final session focused on enhancing body consciousness. The need is to evoke within, a sense of awe and reverence so that the work towards transformation of the body can be done with profound humility, sincerity and appreciation.
Recognising the silence and the stillness in the midst of the rush of life is needed to sense the richness and the power of the Infinite in the common and the mundane. This unfathomable amazement allows for openness and tranquillity to emerge from within and it makes us worthy of the possibility for the Supramental transformation. With our hearts softened and minds stilled, we are open to the experience of the aspiration and the Presence. When we open our heart and remember with a sense of wonder and repeat the Name with a deeper sense of aspiration, we are more receptive to Grace and our bodies open to the Mother’s Force. In periods of Grace, with effortless repetition of the Name – a flow of the Name is ‘heard’ – and felt to be almost indistinguishable from the flow of the all-permeating Force.
The programme was beautifully received by over 30 attendees, who participated enthusiastically sharing their insights and seeking answers to their various queries.
“Amazing sessions! Thank you!”
“Thanks James and Don. Both awakened seekers. The sessions were packed with unique tips and approaches for the practice of nama japa, drawn from the practitioner’s own wealth of experience.”
“Engrossing sessions… practical tips for Japa… inspiring examples of practising Saints.”
“Such amazing talks and sharing of experiential wisdom, Don. Hope NAMAH brings you back for additional workshops.”
“It’s beautiful and practical tips to follow cin everyday life. Namaste.”
“It has been an extremely beautiful class and we expect more from Don. Thank you Don.