Yoga for Addiction: Chanting Mantras

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 10.34.41 AMIt seems to me that addictive impulses come with a lot of internal conversations: “I really want that cupcake/cigarette/glass of wine/cup of coffee. But I shouldn’t. Why shouldn’t I? I don’t want to be good. Other people have cupcakes/cigarettes/wine/coffee. No fair. I could quit tomorrow. I deserve a treat. No, I don’t.” And on and on and on. In my experience, the easiest and fastest way to clear mental clutter is chanting. So, in the final installment of my Yoga for Addiction series, I’m going to focus on the power of chanting mantras for breaking unwanted patterns.

Many of us already have mantras, things we repeat to ourselves. For the addictive personality, the mantra may be simply a repetitive pulsing of the vice: “caffeine, caffeine, caffeine!” Or it may be a negative self-concept: “I can’t help myself.” In chanting, you can begin to replace the negative mantras with positive affirmations of the divine spark within.

When we focus on mantras and chant, we can turn down the volume on our egos. According to The Aquarian Teacher, “The ego creates a kind of forgetfulness. You forget the Creator. You forget vastness. The energy of the mind begins to act in narrow ways with petty feelings and limiting beliefs. You act according to the information patterns of only a small part of your potential and experience.”

So move past the ego, out of self-limiting beliefs, and into a beautiful realm. Different mantras remind us of different aspects of our beyond-ego interior lives. The following mantras are all recommended for addiction and habituation.

Sa Ta Na Ma” is a key mantra for anyone trying to break an addiction. It is the seed mantra “Sat Nam” or “Truth is my name” broken into all of its parts. As I mentioned in a previous post, the entire cycle of life is contained within these four little syllables: Sa means Infinity (or your chosen word for Creation or the Divine); Ta means life; Na means death or transformation; and Ma means rebirth. Try Snatam Kaur’s sensitive version on Sa Ta Na Ma – 62 minutes.

Sa Ta Na Ma by Snatam Kaur

Har Har Mukanday is a mantra for bravery. It’s said to remove blocks and change challenges into opportunities. “Har” is the creative aspect of the divine. “Mukanday” is the liberating aspect of self. Sing along with Mirabai Ceiba’s recording on Awakened Earth. This uplifting song slips in and out of an achingly beautiful Rumi poem which deepens the mantra’s meaning.

Awakened Earth by Mirabai Ceiba

Chatr Chakr Vartee is a mantra for experiencing victory. It is longer and takes some focus to learn, but it is well worth the effort. Yogi Bhajan said of this mantra, “Chatr Chakr Vartee is the mantra for the heart center. It gives direct energy to it. When you are sinking, if you know this mantra and can sing it, you can totally recuperate yourself.” Experience Kulwant Singh’s rhythmic rendition on his album Chatr Chakr Vartee.

Chatr Chakr Vartee by Kulwant Singh

This is my last word on Yoga for Addiction for now, so I really want to encourage anyone who’s struggling to try some of the techniques I’ve discussed. If you don’t know where to start, start here with chanting. I’ve saved the best for last. Start now! Fall in love with this music and your own voice! Sat Nam!

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Cate Baily

Cate discovered Kundalini Yoga by accident over 15 years ago. Walking into a yoga class at the fitness center in her office building, she happened upon it and was surprised and thrilled by how engaged, energized, and inspired it made her feel. She’s been practicing ever since. In 2008, she completed her teacher training at Golden Bridge Yoga in New York City with Hari Kaur Khalsa. Currently, Cate offers private lessons with Kundalini-scriptions (a daily just-right-for-you practice); she teaches Kundalini Yoga at The Karuna Shala in Glen Ridge, NJ; and she runs her signature series, Meditation and Mantra Immersion Experiences for Women twice a month at NJ Acupuncture, Wellness, and Fertility in Montclair, NJ. You can find out more about Cate and her work at catebaily.com

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