This foundational intensive is intended to familiarize students with the basic theory and practice of mantra yoga as a personal, spiritual path. The full intensive requires 12 hours to complete, divided into 4 sessions of three hours each. The sessions are usually spread out across three days, allowing for plenty of down time in between for students to integrate the energies they are working with. The structure of the sessions begins with the physical elements of mantra yoga, then progressing to the intellectual, the energetic and beyond. It is necessary for the intensive to occur in a specific order to allow the students to absorb both the information and the vibrations in the most logical manner. The full intensive of four sessions will provide everything that the student needs to have a functioning mantra practice.

The following is a general outline of the topics which will be covered in each session of the Level 1 Mantra Yoga Intensive:

Session 1. Mantras for Gaṇeśa and Sarasvatī, plus the Great Compassion Mantra. Techniques for using mālās (counting beads) and preparations for daily practice. Understanding deity vibrations and the nature of conscious energy. How to interact with deities on a personal level.

Session 2. Mantras for Lakṣmī, Durgā, and Śiva. Introduction to Sanskrit pronunciation.

Session 3. Lectures on the underlying theory behind mantra yoga, using information gained from texts of the yoga tradition as well as practical experience. Major topics include the nature of śakti (divine energy) and prāṇa (life force), a detailed examination of the cakra system and the relationship between that system and the Sanskrit language. Discussion and practice with bīja mantras (seed sounds) that encapsulate the basic vibrations of reality.

Session 4. Advanced topics in mantra yoga. Mantras for Green Tārā and Nārāyana, plus the Gāyatrī Mantra. How to develop a specific mantra sādhana to achieve a particular goal. The structure of deeper practices. Discussions about the students' personal practices with a Q & A session.

Join us for a deep dive into the energetic space of BHAKTI, the yogic practice of devotion and selfless service to the divine principle of unconditional LOVE!

In this 6 hour intensive, we will talk about the history of Bhakti Yoga, including its roots in the Bhagavad Gīta and the singing revolution initiated in India by Caitānya Mahāprabhu that gave birth to modern, global Bhakti culture. Along the way we will investigate Nārada's Bhakti Sūtras (one of the foundational texts on the Indian concept of devotion), experience the inspired poetry of Ādi Śankarācarya from the 9th century and Rabindranath Tagore from the 20th century, and participate in lots and lots of kīrtan!

Our journey will be based on the Pancabhāva Bhakti system that expresses the power of five different varieties of devotion: the divine as supreme being, the divine as master, the divine as friend, the divine as child, and finally the divine as lover. Within each of the bhāvas we will connect to different deities through chants, stories and sacred ceremonies.

This afternoon workshop is a deep dive into the nature of the spiritual journey and an exploration of the goal: Nirvāṇa, enlightenment, liberation. The text we will be investigating is the Prajñā Pāramitā Hṛdaya Sūtra, popularly known as the Heart Sūtra, which comes from the literature of Mahāyana Buddhism. The Heart Sūtra attempts to explain, in a pithy 40 lines, the nature of Śūnyatā, infinite consciousness which is without limiting qualities and is therefore called “emptiness” in Buddhist philosophy. Śūnyatā is that state which we enter into temporarily when we experience Samādhi and permanently when we experience Nirvāṇa. Knowing that the intellect is finite and can only talk and think around this concept of Śūnyatā, the Heart Sūtra also provides a mantra, Gate Gate Pāragate Pārasaṁgate Bodhi Svāhā, which expands consciousness towards the realization of the True Self. We will be building up to the practice of this mantra with full intention and understanding.

Before we can truly harness the power of the Heart Sūtra mantra however, we must equip ourselves with the proper tools and consult with the right guides who can take us to the fulfillment of our journey. Our tools are compassion, wisdom and willpower, represented by the three Bodhisattvas who will be our guides and helpers throughout this process: Avalokiteśvara, Mañjushrī and Vajrapaṇi. We will start with a short introduction to each of these aspects of higher consciousness as well as the importance of the energies they encapsulate to our spiritual work. Then we will chant the root mantras for each of the Bodhisattvas, drawing the vibrations of compassion, wisdom and willpower into ourselves for the benefit of all sentient beings.

The Chants for Awakening practice is available and effective for anyone who chooses to undertake it. No prior knowledge of Sanskrit, mantra meditation, or Buddhism is required. This practice is also not exclusive to people who label themselves as “Buddhists”. Śūnyatā is a universal experience that is open to all who seek it, and the Bodhisattvas have undertaken a vow to help all sentient beings find their way to it, if they so choose.

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