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Send Light December 14, 2020

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Uncategorized.

[“Happy Chanukah!” to anyone celebrating! May your lights shine bright!]

“I wanna listen to the song that made me breathe
Gonna listen to the music that I need”


– quoted from “Music That I Need” by Hothouse Flowers

On more than one occasion, I have been told that music is not part of yoga or meditation. Such conversations can easily devolve (or evolve, depending on your perspective) into a conversation about culture, politics, and dogma. I’ve even been on the wrong side of these conversations. One thing I keep in mind, however is that the yoga-related conversations almost always start as conversations about āsana and involve people who may be unfamiliar with mantra, bhakti yoga, kirtan, and/or nāda yoga.

Mantras are sacred sounds, words, and/or phrases repeated to achieve a particular effect. In the Yoga Sūtras, Patanjali specifically refers to the use of mantra as one “tool” to achieve a clear mind. Repeating (and repeating) the mantra transforms the sounds into a chant or song – I would say, “without the music,” but the words actually become their own music. While mantras are associated with Indian philosophy and religion, there are hymns, prayers, and words from cultures all over the world that also count as mantras – and they are used in the same way. Bhakti is a Sanskrit word for “attachment” or devotional love and it is one of the forms of worship mentioned in sacred texts like the Bhagavad Gītā (“The Song of the Lord”). Kirtan is the Sanskrit word for “telling” a story and combines mantra with music to form a type of bhakti (or devotional) union. Finally, nāda yoga is literally union through sound and is a system of practice that utilizes vibrations in order to unblock and/or balance the energy inside and all around one.

Given that music (and the messages within the music) has been part of the fabric of my existence since my childhood, no one should be surprised when music informs my practice – even practices without a playlist playing in the background. Take today, for instance. On the surface, it is a simple practice incorporating lojong (Tibetan Buddhist “mind training” techniques) aphorisms or statements. The very first (of 59) aphorisms states, “First, train in the preliminaries.” In the commentary, Pema Chödrön explains that the four (4) preliminaries are reminders: to “maintain an awareness of the preciousness of human life; be aware of the reality that life ends…; recall that whatever you do, whether virtuous or not has a result…; and contemplate that as long as you are too focused on self-importance and too caught up in thinking about how you are good or bad, you will suffer.” This is a foundation on which one builds the rest of the practice.

“(10) Begin the sequence of sending and taking with yourself.”


(16) Whatever you meet unexpectedly, join in meditation.”


(49) Always meditate on whatever provokes resentment”


– from Always Maintain A Joyful Mind: And Other Lojong Teachings on Awaking Compassion and Fearlessness by Pema Chödrön

Just as the āsanas (“seats” or poses) prepare one for more breath awareness and, in turn, a deep, seated mediation; practicing lojong prepares one for tonglen (“giving and taking” or “sending and receiving”) meditation. Since today is the fourth day of Chanukah, the Jewish festival of lights, it also makes sense to incorporate a little light work into the practice.

Simple, right? Sounds like the quintessential yoga practice hosted by a Buddhist meditation center. Picking up on yesterday’s reference to alignment (and the fact that B. K. S. Iyengar was born today in 1918), it also makes sense that the practice will be classic… and simple. I can even explain that one of the first ways I learned tonglen it involved the visualization of darkness being vanquished by the light. However, no matter how true all of that is, it leaves out a step. It leaves out the music.

There are a lot of songs that pop up on my light-related playlists this time of year – and several of them invoke the image of being a light in the world and (physically) inspiring others to shine. However, I recently came across two songs that very specifically speak to the idea of actively shining in order to alleviate the suffering of others. The first song is one I’m saving for a little later. (I know, I know, 2020 has been a cautionary tale about holding things back, but I don’t think the end of the video is appropriate for Chanukah.) On the flip side, the second song was sent to me this weekend by the dearest of people (LM) and the more I listened, the more I recognized it as a “tonglen song” – in that it is a giving and receiving song, a song of compassion and empathy.

“I am sending you Light, To heal you, To hold you
I am sending you Light, To hold you in Love”


– quoted from “Sending You Light” by Melanie DeMore

Please join me on the virtual mat today (Monday, December 14th) at 5:30 PM for a 75-minute virtual yoga practice on Zoom.

This is a 75-minute Common Ground Meditation Center practice that, in the spirit of generosity (dana), is freely given and freely received. You can use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below.

If you are able to support the center and its teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” my other practices, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.)

There is no playlist for the Common Ground practices, BUT….


here is Melanie DeMore “Sending You Light”



1. Sharyn D!🌞 - December 14, 2020

Happy EclipseDay Magic Myra! Love+Light; SharynDipity🎶

Carpe Diem,

Sharyn Rose


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