Last week, as part of my daily art and asana experiment, I created my very first yantra.
I first encountered yantras when I was in India studying the art of Tantra. Similar to mandalas, yantras are cosmic designs and are intricatly related to mantra, the recitation of seed syllables which evoke shakti (energy) as vibrational sound. While mantras are an audible manifestation of a shakti, yantras are a visual manifestation of shakti.
For example, a seed syllable mantra you might be familiar with is
"OM", chanted at the beginning of many yoga classes.
When you chant "Om" what emotional/physical effects does it have on you?
For me, the shakti of chanting, "OM" feels grounding, centering, calming.
I feel as though I am coming back to myself.
Similarly, yantras are geometric diagrams designed to invoke particular
emotional/ physical responses in their viewer/creator.
Although, I had studied yantras, and even interviewed Madhu Khanna, author of a book called
Yantra: The Tantric Symbol of Cosmic Unity
for my research while I was in India,
I never did anything with them in an experiential (versus academic) way.
Until now, several years later!
Using directions from the book, Nine Designs for Inner Peace by Sarah Tomlinson,
I learned to create a yantra for nourishment.
At the beginning of this book, there is a page with all of the yantra designs that are in the book.
The author invites you to settle in a quiet place and then let the gaze fall on the page and identify the design you feel most drawn to at that time.
I tried this exercise and found myself drawn to the yantra for nourishment.
So I followed the direction and over the course of a few days (and the purchase of a new compass!),
I created my very first yantra:
The mantra associated with this design is "Om Cham Chandraya Namaha".
In sanskrit, the word Chandra means 'Moon' and the author says that it is the nurturing moon, (which is also related to the feminine principles of compassion, receptivity and sensitivity) that inspires this design.
Sarah Tomlinson says of the yantra, "The moon also governs water, the tides, and developing harmony with the natural rhythms and cycles of one's life. Having compassion for others starts with nurturing and listening to oneself. This is the perfect Yantra to work with in situations involving self-destructive behaviors or emotionally reactive episodes. By calming down and getting in touch with emotions as they arise, great insight, compassion, wisdom, and right action results." (Sarah Tomlinson in Nine Designs for Inner Peace, page 91)
As I created the Yantra, I contemplated why I'd been drawn to this particular design and what in my life needed nourishing. As, I laid in the lines, I thought about how I needed to relax more into my own experience and allow things to be just as they are.
I thought about how I feel as though I've been forcing my creativity lately,
Focusing on the importance of product more than the importance of exploration and play.
And how that has sapped some of the fun out of it and sapped the energy out of me.
I reflected on all the
things that nourish me
(which then of course help me to better nourish others):
eating fruits and vegatables
checking my email less
letting go of the impulse to compare myself to others
getting to bed earlier
getting up earlier to make more time for yoga, meditation
and morning pages
getting outside and into nature every day (no matter what).
letting my art-making be more exploratory and
letting go of the results more.
So this week, I will spend some time meditating on my newly created yantra and contemplate how to incorporate nourishment into my life.
What nourishes you?