This month's focus at Jivamukti Yoga is called "Mantra," and throughout the month Jivamukti practitioners will explore the inherent power of repetition, of chanting sacred sounds and names.
In class, we almost always begin the practice by chanting mantras. Many mantras include divine names, and when we invoke these names through communal melody, we collectively set a holy intention that we instill, over and over, through repetition.
How exactly does this work, though? Many teachers refer to the names of the divine as "revealed" names, or names that directly reflect a being or presence that is deeper than our normal waking consciousness perceives. It is name of a person, or a presence, whose entire existence mirrors the true, undisturbed, pristine nature within us all. By chanting these names, we go back to the source; by chanting these names, we channel that person's presence as a way to reveal our own highest potential.
The names that we chant—Krishna, Sita, Ram, Shiva—are thousands of years old. After class the other day, I found myself wondering: is it possible for more revealed names to come into existence now? Wouldn't it be wonderful if more people had complete familiarity with—and acted from—their highest selves, so much so that their names were invoked as a way to reveal that same potential in others? How can we get to that point?
Last year, I attended a Hebrew baby-naming ceremony organized by my close friends Anne and Aaron. In this ceremony, they would reveal the holy Hebrew name they chose for their daughter, Johnna, as well as explain the intention behind their choice. Before they introduced Johnna's Hebrew name, they shared the reason why they chose the name Johnna. They named her after a woman, Johnna, who lived next door to Anne when she was growing up. Johnna provided immense amounts of nurturing, care and loving guidance to Anne as she grew up, and Anne and Aaron found this example of care and kindness so inspiring that they wanted those same qualities imbued in their own daughter. After the ceremony, it was touching to watch adult Johnna bounce a giggling and laughing baby Johnna in her lap. For me, it was a moment that reflected a new lineage in their growing family—one grounded with sacred intention and deep faith.
We might not know the reason why the people in our lives received their names. We may not even know the reason we received our own names. We can, however, still assume our names were sacred and honorable choices grounded with intention. With this in mind, we can practice saying each other's names from a place of love and compassion. Over time, this practice might even reveal those same holy qualities within ourselves and each other.