During my teacher training with Little Flower Yoga, we were taught to describe the meaning of Om to children by telling them that Om is the sound that is made when all the sounds in the universe come together. I love it and the kids get it. Sometimes we name all the sounds we hear in that moment and then add our voices to those sounds bringing them all together to make one sound - OM. A Karma Kids Trainee who I met last weekend taught me a great little way to bring that definition to life. Ask the kids to each pick a 3 letter word (the, dog, cat, pie, bob). If we all sing our chosen word the same way we sing Om, the sound that is made from the mix of words will sound exactly like the sound of Om. We tried it and it worked! We then tried it with any one syllable word and that worked, too! Then I had a student who wanted to try it with a 10 letter word...but I didn't think "cheesecake" would quite fit. ;-)
I talked a bit with the kids about the power of sound and the power of speech. Speech is a very powerful thing. What we say to other people can have the potential to impact a person in a good way or a bad way. Our words can encourage...I asked for some examples. "You are beautiful.", "You are smart.", You have a lot of talent." Our words can hurt...I used one of my student's tee shirt as an example. Her tee shirt had a picture of a muffin and a cupcake and it said "Muffins are just ugly cupcakes." I asked them to think about how the muffin would feel after being called ugly. I mean, muffins have feelings, too. I reminded the students that we want the words that we chose
to influence the world, then we should strive to stay positive.
Word stay with us. The more we hear something, the more it sticks, the more we believe it. Mantras are sounds or words that can create change. The use of a mantra varies according to different cultures, but in yoga we mainly use a mantra privately during meditation or in a group to join together as a unit. A mantra can be something many use, such as Om, Peace, Love, Amen. Or a mantra can be something that is very private to you - a favorite quote, a poem, a prayer. I shared a mantra with my class that my teacher uses at the end of every class:
Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bahvantu
May all beings everywhere be filled with peace, joy, love, and light.
I broke it down with the children and we sung it together. A mini kirtan if you will. Being a first year teacher, I'm never sure how kids will respond to the new practices that I bring into their worlds. These kids have such open hearts, they never cease to amaze. Their voices were beautiful and filled the room! As we were leaving class, I even heard one of my students humming the tune...and my other student was still after cheesecake.