Written by Geri Ann Higgins
I talk to myself a lot.
I’m sure I’ve received the “side eye” many a time over the years. Thankfully, I don’t care what others think about my doing this anymore.
You see, if I’m talking to myself, I’m either:
- Giving myself a pep talk or
- Calming down fears
So, I’ll continue doing so.
I’ve now layered on chanting and healing sounds as a technique to increase well-being and reduce stress and pain, so the “side eyes” will likely increase tenfold!
After my mastectomy, it was hard to sleep comfortably and to lift myself up out of bed when I woke up. You don’t realize it, but your breasts are similar to “kick stands” when you lie on your sides. Without one of the “kick stands”, side sleeping was painful at first. Also, using either arm to prop myself up hurt due to the crisscross nature of the negatively impacted pectoral muscles. That’s where vocalizing through pain was helpful.
I used chanting as an audible lever to help me position myself and also for momentum as I engaged in the Pilates Roll Up to a sitting position. I had been taking Pilates for years and, WOW, did the Roll Up come in handy! I did not have to turn on my side to get up. I just pretended I was a zombie.
As for the chanting, I told my husband not to be alarmed by the volume. It probably sounded worse than it felt, but I had to be loud in order to garner the most effective results.
Good thing he can’t hear very well in one ear.
Embracing Body Wisdom from the Bottom Up
With so much of our time focusing “neck up”, we often miss what our bodies are trying to share with us. We pay attention when things start to go wrong. It’s usually been a long tail to get to that point.
Chanting “up” the chakras can be an enjoyable way to regularly tune in to your body and increase overall awareness. The extended exhale of the chant relaxes your nervous system, harmonizing mind, body and spirit.
Chakra is Sanskrit for “wheel.” These “wheels” layer over major nerve centers of your body. Since your body is your vessel for this lifetime, it only behooves you to get to know it better.
- Where is it closed off?
- Where is it strong?
- Where is it vulnerable?
Chanting can positively impact these areas of energy.
We’ve all experienced heart chakra energy shifts. When you’re surrounded by love, your
chest area (and, in some cases, your entire being), feels open and light. When you are hurting, this area actually pains you. In the past, I have placed my hand over my heart to soothe it and to “hold” it together, “containing” the pain while pressing my hand firmly over my heart.
Your Root chakra is negatively activated when you feel threatened, unsafe – it typically brings elimination problems. I know many of you have been there! Basically, it’s clearing you out to make you lighter to run faster (to get away from that tiger).
Sacral chakra embodies sexuality and creativity – giving birth to enjoyable things that light your fire. Sacral chakra is riding high when you are in a flow state.
Solar plexus work can enhance your confidence and self-esteem. A great example of “leading” through this area is the “Wonder Woman” stance (or, like I have often said, the “car salesman” stance – talk about confidence and resilience!).
Throat chakra represents communication: speaking up, vocalizing your truth and sharing wisdom. It is also about knowing when to stay silent until the timing is most optimal to present a novel idea and having it “land” most effectively.
Third eye (where the base of the nose meets the skull) is all about inner knowing and finding answers when we take time to be still.
Crown chakra is your connection to the AWEsome, which I often encounter in nature, in meditation or prayer and witnessing unconditional acts of love. It represents the mystery from whence we came and where we shall return – the essence of which is so hard to comprehend.
It is believed that chanting can strengthen and realign the chakras. I have heard chakras referred to as energetic “pools”, while meridians are energetic “rivers” that move throughout your body. The art of acupressure and acupuncture harnesses and redirects meridian energies.
When you engage in focused chakra chanting from the base of your spine upward, you give your body a literal “tune” up. By the time you reach the top of your head, you’ll have a nice “buzz” on. This relaxed state can more easily slide you into a meditation session or just enable you to feel a little more zen in whatever activity you feel like engaging. I’ve done it as a nice transition after work, before going out to spend time in my gardens and prior to a peaceful walk in nature.
A Little Dab’ll Do Ya
“Mantra” translates roughly to “mind vehicle.” A mantra can be your breath, a sound, syllable, word or phrase that can be used as an anchor to return to when your “busy mind” bubbles up. You can bet your bottom dollar that it will! It’s because it’s protecting you. Give thanks! The best approach is to say, “I hear you” and then go back to focusing on your anchor.
I discovered the “Bija” mantras (which are syllables, not phrases) on my first trip to Sedona. Up until that time, I was either chanting the vibration of Om (AUM), corresponding vowel sounds or certain mantras that appealed to me based on what I was moving through at the time. I loved the simplicity of the Bija mantras and their effect. Bija is Sanskrit for “seed,” as a syllable is like a seed of a word.
I also like to do mini chants when I’m feeling stress about something at work or in my personal life. I pick a Bija mantra or Qigong healing sound and use this “vocal” approach as an instrument to restore personal harmony. At the very least, regularly engaging in this type of “sound” work can reduce stress and increase overall relaxation – a key way to enhance your health and well-being. Now, that’s something to make some noise about!
What helped: Chanting the Bija mantra YAM (heart and chest area) helped manage pain and get me out of bed more easily. I also meditated every afternoon and sometimes used the sounds to minimize pain I was experiencing.
What I wish I knew at the time: Qigong healing sounds. I was naturally discovering them, but knowing they existed would have been even more useful.
Some things you can try right now:
- Be more vocal. Try the simple Qigong Healing Sounds and notice how they make you feel.
- Take a few moments to give the Bija mantras a whirl! Here is a more descriptive summary of the Bija mantras, plus you can chant along to a fun “beat box” video version!
- Align accordingly. Here’s a simple way to reset those whirling centers of personal empowerment: Donna Eden’s Daily Energy Routine can help invigorate you “head to toe” in just a few minutes. You’ll feel better right away.
- Learn more about chakras. Curious to learn more? Consider reading Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing by medical intuitive, teacher and writer Caroline Myss.
- Tune in and give thanks. Take time to regularly check in with your overall sense of well-being and give gratitude for all your body has been doing for you since your first heartbeat. xox
What are your favorite sounds to make?
Next Up: De-cluttering
Medical Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Medical advice must only be obtained from a physician or qualified health professional.
Geri Ann Higgins, owner of Fully Present, is a breast cancer survivor, Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Registered Yoga Teacher, Certified Yoga4Cancer Teacher, Reiki Master, Tarot coach and Marketing & Communications professional. Learn more at http://www.FullyPresentwithYou.com
Love what you wrote. It is amazing how we use our breast for propping. The weight and loss of weight was another unusual experience. Vocalizing gave me permission to feel/validate the emotions.
Thank you for sharing. Using our voice (in all kinds of different ways) is so important!
I love this and especially the chakra drawing!
Thank you, it was fun to draw. Glad you enjoyed the read!