This Friday, I attended my first Mantra Yoga session at Yoga for Life in Charlotte. Never having done this before, I was not sure what to expect. The info on their web site mentioned chanting, meditation and drums which definitely was not anything I had ever done or felt a need to do. Against my usual fears and social anxiety, I went anyway (I used the Neuro-Programmer 2 before I went). When I first pulled in the parking lot, I could see a smallish group of people sitting on cushions through the large glass windows. Most of the participants seemed to be of Indian descent which intimidated me a little… The urge to leave was very strong.
I took some deep breaths and entered the facility. I was greeted by a friendly young lady who asked if I was here for the mantra yoga. I mumbled something in my usual nervous way and she guided me into the room where the yoga part of the class had already begun. After a couple of relaxing yoga stretches, they introduced the musicians that would be performing and I took a seat in one of the cushions at the front (gasp).
The four performers introduced themselves and began with a chant that we were to repeat back. I was extremely nervous as anything even approaching a public performance would normally create incredible anxiety, panic, etc. The urge to leave was getting stronger but somehow I just sat on my cushion and took some deep breaths and went with the flow. The music was beautiful as were the voices of the band. Everything seemed OK and I was actually enjoying the experience…
…until I found out that each person in the room was going to have to sing the mantra out loud by themselves. It was OK to do it as a group since no one could really hear my warbling voice, but singing solo in front of a group of strangers was definitely over the top for me…again the urge to leave…
One of the band members handed me a miniature cymbal to play with the music..oh god.. then it was time to for me to repeat the chant.. all eyes were on me.. I hesitated took a deep breath and nervously sang the chant.. and suddenly I felt very happy and content.
As the class ended and I began to leave, the head instructor graciously insisted I stay for dinner, which I could not refuse (even though my partner was calling my cell phone asking me where I was and what were we gonna eat for dinner). We gathered around a plastic table cloth on the floor and several Indian women served the all vegetarian meal. The food was actually incredible and I definitely did not feel short changed by not having any meat.
A feeling of happiness and calm came over me as observed and chatted with a some of the people there. I suddenly realized that by isolating myself, I have been missing out on a world of interesting people and potentially life changing experiences.