After practicing Bikram yoga for four years, I’ve had the new age aspects of yoga pretty much drummed out of me. Bikram strives to be scientific rather than mystical. During the non-stop ninety-minute dialogue, one word never uttered is Namaste. But I’m taking a break from Bikram’s grueling rigor and enjoying a more diverse, lighter form of yoga, CorePower.
CorePower has four different flavors of classes, and after Bikram’s militant uniformity, I enjoy the variety. Still, all CorePower classes follow a format that includes beginning intentions and ending meditation. I’d rather attempt crow pose than bother with intentions, but there they are, in every class. In time I found myself conjuring a name to fill the void. I started sending energy to my children, an ill friend, a laid off coworker. Then I started to think about me, anxieties I suffered, challenges I faced. Before I knew it I was recalling my intention during class and discovered it gave me a boost of energy or another level of meaning. Uh oh, I’m feeling new agy.
The obvious evolution of all this intention setting is to invoke a mantra. I know a bit about mantras; I’ve done enough mediation to try on a few. Peace, Om, calm; the usual suspects. I repeated them over and over until I forgot I was saying them. They might have helped me resonate good karma but they didn’t resonate with me
Mantras are ancient Sanskrit phrases used to focus and induce unity of body and mind. They’re Hindu in origin, but have crossed into Buddhism and are central to the more meditative forms of yoga. The kind of yoga I don’t much do.
Still, since intentions elevated my practice, I opened my mind to mantra’s possibilities. But I wanted one that was mine. I wanted a single word, short, maybe percussive, that represented why I do yoga, and everything else in life for that matter. I let different options drift through my head during practice. Hope. Content. Open. None seemed quite right. Then I remembered the profile test I took during my Psychology of Happiness seminar. My number one motivator in life: curiosity. Curiosity would be a lousy mantra; too many syllables. Curious isn’t much better. That word carries oddball associations with a particular childhood monkey.
Then, as always happens when you let something roll around your mind long enough, my mantra came to me. Seek. It’s simple, declarative, fitting. It’s the closest four-letter word I can find that describes what gets me out of bed in the morning. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now. I like it. Sometimes I still offer an intention to family or friends. But if there are no pressing issues to focus my practice, I seek. I’ve always found that to be the best way to find whatever I’m looking for.