Have you ever heard the Sama Vedas? They are ancient mantras chanted in a very specific way. Apparently there are different chants that are chanted at different times of the day/season and each with a different effect.
I first heard the Sama Veda when my teacher would play them after a session of yoga, pranayama and meditation. There wasn't any "music" just the chanting. I wasn't sure if it was the whole process of the sadhana or the chants or maybe even the combination but the effect was pure bliss.
During my 500 hour advance yoga teacher training course we spent a lot of time talking about the energetic effects of different mantras and even the different energetic effects of the way we practice asanas and pranayama. I can tell you there is no better way than through direct experience to understand the energetic effects of a practice.
Yesterday I was at a kirtan (devotional chanting). The kirtan artist was someone I had never heard before. What I liked most was that there wasn't an air of "rockstar" yogi about him. He was simply sharing his devotional chanting with the rest of us. For me, the effect was the same as the effect I get from listening to the Sama Vedas.
Was the bliss and devotion that I left a result of the particular mantras? Was it his voice? Was it my own state of mind? I love kirtan but the effect is not always the same. I love yoga but the effect is not always the same. I began thinking on the drive home last night that I should listen to the Sama Vedas more often. Maybe I need to include them as part of my morning sadhana (Hell, no wonder yogis gets up at 4am for sadhana - they need about 3 hours to do all the practices!)
As I drifted off into sleep I was aware of a thought "Isn't chasing the bliss just another addiction?" I brushed away the thought and drift off to sleep. I have a very addictive personality and on more than one occasion I have found myself wanting that bliss that comes from the perfect yoga practice the same as an alcoholic wants the buzz of the drink. My father was an alcoholic and my aunt jokingly tells me that my father used to say "I drink to forget". I am my father's daughter..... Do I practice to forget my troubles? Am I chasing the next yoga fix? If it's the effect of the practice that I'm after does that make my sadhana just another addiction?
I once asked my teacher about the fact that all the people I've read about who've had "spiritual awakenings" were all on drugs. My question was "Was it really a spiritual awaking or a drug trip?" His answer was "what's the difference?" It was an experience whether or not it was drug induced was besides the point. I don't necessarily agree with that answer but that's a whole other story. My point is that just like taking stimulates has one effect while taking alcohol has another, different practices have different effects. Are you chasing the stimulation and high of a dynamic, energetic practice or are you chasing the bliss of a delicious meditative practice?
Am I a devoted spiritual seeker or just a yoga-holic? Is it the bliss of the practice that keeps me coming back to the mat or is it a sincere desire for Self-realization? I'm thinking of something my teacher has said. He says it's like a room with many doors. Once you enter the room how you got in doesn't matter anymore.
The next time you step on your mat pay attention to the effect of the practice. No judgements simply witness the effects. As always, feel free to share your thoughts.....