A “chance” to chant by Karine Thompson
As I look back on 2018 and forward to 2019, I do so with excitement and wonder.
How my life has been steadily transforming!
This time last year I had a daily home yoga practice involving mainly sun salutations and meditation. It was a good practice, but something was missing…
Also, those little tweaks in my back…was I doing things right or getting into bad habits? I made some radical changes and advances in 2018, the most important thing for me was purchasing a yearly membership at Yoga Mountain Studio.
Now is a particularly poignant time for me, because I am embarking on some minor surgery that will keep me away from my regular asana practice for a while. However, I know that with the support of the community I have become a part of over the last year and the practices that have become an integral part of my life, I look forward to rejoining those beloved classes and friends as soon as I can! I wanted to share the journey of this last year ….
it all started with a chance encounter and a chant.
One year ago I was in the Wu Wei Tea Temple, standing behind a man as we were both waiting to speak with Tracy, the owner. He turned around and looked at me, I intuitively said “Namaste”. He looked surprised, stepped closer and quite unexpectedly began speaking in Sanskrit in my ear. I was mystified. I asked what had he been saying, he said it was a mantra to protect me from death.
I was shocked.
He said, “No, don’t be alarmed. I don’t normally speak like this, but I was surprised when you spoke to me, because you gave me respect, you said “Namaste”. You know this greeting, you know my culture.” (I realised he was looking at the black mala beads around my neck!) Then he mysteriously looked above my head and said to me “I could see there is something over you. But it is ok, it is gone”!
“How mysterious!”, I thought. I asked him if he could write down that particular mantra/chant because I had not heard it before. He quickly said, “give me your phone I’ll find it for you”.
The chant he found was the Mayamrityunjaya mantra, a beautiful chant that I now understand to be a chant of protection and healing and I began to play that chant every day until I knew the words. I couldn’t help but wonder what it was he had “seen” but I had been a little concerned about a patch of dark skin that had appeared on my nose in recent weeks, which I had been disguising with make-up to even out the skin tone, or so I thought. Maybe that was what he saw? We talked about music, how I wanted to play my violin more and chant and find Kirtan opportunities, he gave me his card, he played Tabla and was “World Class Musician” Samrat Kakkeri!
That next week, I went to the skin kiosk at my Doctor’s where they photographed my moles or areas of concern and sent them to Dermatology for testing. An email came back assuring me they were simply seborrhoeic keratosis, “age spots”, and were of no concern. That was reassuring, but then, I received news from my family in England, that my father was ill, and that my God-Mother had just passed away, and so I made plans to fly “home” to be with my Dad and to attend the funeral. I continued to play the chant every day during my stay; I’m happy to say my Dad fully recovered! Unfortunately, the rest of the family all got the flu and I came back with it as well!
I was seriously ill in bed with the flu for a week, having wrenched a muscle in my chest through coughing so hard, it was hard to breathe. My dreams became quite vivid during this time and I started dreaming about places I longed to visit. Kauai kept coming to my mind, I watched YouTube videos consistently that whole week hoping that one day, I would travel there.
When I recovered, feeling like I could participate in life again, I decided to visit Yoga Mountain Studio and inquire about getting into some yoga classes.
That’s when I saw a flyer advertising a Magical Yoga Retreat in Kauai in April! Quite by chance, the sold-out retreat had one spot available – I took it! It was feeling like life was too short with so much death and sadness and illness, and Kauai seemed to be calling me.
The retreat was truly magical for me. Yoga morning and evening, learning new chants, a visit to the beautiful Temple at Kapaa, new friendships made, and it helped renew my commitment to deepen my practice. I signed up for an ongoing membership upon my return realizing that working from home as I did was quite isolating. Working away at the computer and talking to nobody… I was losing my voice!
I was so delighted that Sienna played the harmonium at the start of her classes the way she had been doing on the Retreat. I wanted to use my voice more and now I could chant along with a wonderful community of loving souls and beautiful teachers, and sing with friends in the Studio’s lovely garden.
Since then, I have opened up and I stepped inside myself and chanted in sweet rituals with Sienna, Elizabeth, and others. I have loved every moment of classes, Tea Tuesdays and Yoga brunches. I even found myself forming a band with other yoga classmates, jamming regularly and singing at birthday parties together that summer.
Then, just before Christmas, I discovered that the “age spots” on my face had developed into melanoma. I am currently in the process of having various surgical procedures. During surgeries, I listen to healing mantras, including Mayamrityunjaya mantra that I learned so long ago. I know that my yoga practice has helped me get through these new challenges with courage, expanding spiritual awareness, healthy blood pressure and a strong Divine connection. Knowing I am fully supported by my teachers and friends at Yoga Mountain Studio is a blessing to me. I regard them all as family. Whether I am in surgery or in recovery, just knowing that they are all their practicing and chanting and holding a space for me for when I return makes me very happy.
Here’s the link Samrat Kakkeri gave me to the mantra being sung by Shankar Sahney and a beautiful holy choir! https://youtu.be/adyjwFgXRNY
I hope to see you all soon. Back on the mat and chanting.