I recently attended a healing workshop in Glastonbury where the subject of Bija (seed) mantras was part of the session.
Bija mantras are one-syllable sort of proto-mantras. There are seven of them, one for each chakra. Five of them start with a particular consonant sound followed by ahhh and then mmmm, and the remaining two are om/aum, the final one, for the crown chakra, chanted silently.
These mantras are extremely, almost primordially powerful. They can be chanted in a variety of ways; long, steady and slow with the sound emerging gradually over a full exhalation. They can also be chanted in fast repetition. And, like all mantras, in perhaps the most powerful practice, silently.
My first exposure to Bija mantras was the slow utterance; it was several months later that I came across the rapid, cycling, hypnotic, palpably vibrational experience of the fast way. Me being me, I dived straight in. For the next few days I chanted them, three deep inhalations each, one after the other, up and down from root to crown and back again. I liked the effect; it made me feel very strong and vigorous, with an increasing sense of unstoppableness. By about the fifth day I felt like I was going to burst out of my skin and run riot, frankly.
It felt like my life was beginning to shake to pieces with the energy coursing through me. I stopped and the feeling went away. Things calmed down again.
The chakras are the principal junction boxes of our energetic flow, directing and balancing the distribution and output of our life force. Sometimes things can get a bit out of kilter and we wobble out in one direction or another to some degree; we can blow a fuse, so to speak. My experience of rapid, full-on Bija chanting certainly felt like it was going that way. What I was doing was sending great big shots of energy through my system – from nothing to big power in one go.
Mantras are like medicine and for me at that time, rapid Bija chanting was way too strong. Possibly another analogy would be to compare aspirin with opium, or open-heart surgery to a dab of warm salt water and a plaster. Since then, I’ve occasionally chanted one, fast, for a particular effect or just because it occurred to me to do so (it hardly ever does), but never the full set in multiple ‘goes’.
I’m writing this because at the workshop this rapid approach was brought up. When asked to share my experience of it I recounted the above, and I’m reproducing that here for anyone on the workshop who wanted clarification.
There are no ‘bad’ mantras (that I know, anyway) and I think it would be a terrible thing to cite this or that mantra as universally good to chant or universally bad, in all cases, for all individuals. The point I wanted to get across is that mantras, and the accompanying elements of pranayama breathing that naturally occur when you chant them, do have effects and that fast Bija is not to be undertaken in a light-hearted way. We might decide we’re OK to drive after half a pint of lager shandy, but we would be dangerous fools to try it after a bottle of spirits. And no, I don’t think mantras are like alcohol. Or like drugs. They’re much, much better than that 🙂
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha