song + breath

In a previous post {t.h.y beginnings}, I wrote about the value of song across cultures.  And in my practice of Heart Yoga, it has an especially important role: the beginning.

As previously mentioned, all the exercises of Tibetan Heart Yoga are aimed at freeing up the tie-up point at the heart and helping the good winds flow through that central channel.  (Note:  If you have no idea what on earth I am talking about right now, you may need to go back and read the previous post (above) first.}

So...where were we?  Ah, yes...song.

Singing (or chanting) has a powerful effect on flexing that inner channel.  It's why it is so hard to sing and stay in a bad mood.  Also (totally interesting alert!!)...this channel runs closer to the back of the heart than the front, which is why many people feel like singing in the shower.  All that warm water sluicing down the back loosens the area.  It is also why a shower makes people feel so refreshed.

Another, entirely unrelated, reason people feel refreshed after bathing is the profusion of negative ions which abound when water collides with itself--giving us a welcome respite from our normally positive-ion-rich existence. 

So, singing is good for the heart.  It's good for the main channel. But we only have two minutes in this pose (legs crossed, back straight, hands to heart center) so America's Top 40 isn't really going to do the trick.  A chant would be nice, and the book, Tibetan Heart Yoga, suggests one.  But the authors were quick to point out that any brief, inspiring sounds will do.  

I don't know Sanskrit, and other than the sounds being pleasing to the soul's ear (made up of a compilation of earth-sounds), it isn't inspiring to me since it is devoid of genuine meaning to me.  So I went with the next best thing: Latin. 

Since Latin and Sanskrit both have an ancestral root language (Proto-Indo-European, if you fancy that little bit of trivia), I thought it would do nicely. 


The only Latin I know is this old song from Benediction and Adoration. Also, courtesy of my Catholic heritage, it is frequently a tune I hum, anyway. Every Tuesday, for school years and school years of my life I have participated in the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The Benediction chorus is as follows:

Oh, Saving Victim open wide (O salutaris hostia,)
The gates of Heaven to us below (Quae caeli pandis ostium):
Our foes press on from every side (Bella premunt hostilia),
Thine aid supply thy strength bestow (Da robur fer auxilium.

Uni trinoque Domino (To your great name be endless praise)
Sit sempiterna gloria: (Immortal Godhead, One in Three)
Qui vitam sine termino (Oh, grant us gift of endless days)
Nobis donet in patria. (In our true native land with Thee)


And...ha ha!  Ironically--just as in typing it--I sort of swerve in and out of Latin and English while I sing it during the first exercise of Heart Yoga. But, hey...it works!  It opens up that central channel, and focuses my mind on the great, inner world and my own divine place in it.  And I'm not saying you need to shine up your pipes with this little ditty, but it works for me.


It's perfect for my practice because, 1:  It does evoke a sense of the secular world being removed from me in this space (plus I know it by heart) and 2: If I am being pulled in a lot of mental directions, I have that central visual of an altar in my mind's eye to focus upon.  But you can pick the best song or chant that speaks to you in your own practice.  

After Song, comes Breath.  "Ten Perfect Breaths" is what the exercise is called...read on!


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