The relevance of 108
This evening I tried to explain to my 8 year old nephew the reason why I am working on a project that starts with number 108.
I told him that a lot of people believe it is a special number, the perfect amount and like to chant 108 Om Namah Shivayas for example (at which point I started and he stopped me with a kind of ‘I get it Aunty, please don’t’ expression) but he knows the Anusara Invocation as I have sung it to him all his life.
He said that he thought 10 was the perfect number, which is maybe what he has learnt at school.
Perhaps most people share this perspective. Perhaps it depends on who you listen to and where you come from as to what numbers are significant to you.
The first time I realised that chanting 108 times meant anything was at my friends wedding, I was arranging some flowers for her altar and had arrived early to prepare them.
Leila Sadeghee arrived, looked at me and said ‘Great! you’re here too, you can help me bless the altar’ (I had no idea what this meant).
One hour later and I had chanted 108 Maha Lakshmis, 108 Ganapatis and 108 Om Namah Shiviayas and I actually thought I was going to faint.
These chants, I now understand have specific meaning and were to infuse those things into the altar they would stand in front of and for the rest of their future relationship.
The altar was created by the couple, Leila and myself it was not like the altar usually found in a church which will be dedicated to god, Jesus or perhaps the Madonna. It was dressed with beautiful material and surrounded by flowers there was wine, images and figures of the above deities and clearly personal items that represented the celebration of love, connection and commitment. So we used our voices to charge this altar with the vibration of the mantras we were chanting in preparation for a ceremony that was lead by Leila and included participation from everyone in the room.
However at the time I was not as aware of the meaning and significance of what I was doing as I am now.
It was the first time ever I was publicly chanting with purpose and not in a yoga room. It was weird, exhausting, emotional and now something I am very proud to be able to say I have done.
I guess what I am saying is it doesn’t really matter how I explain 108 but at the same time it does have incredible significance when you to look into it Mathematically and Ayurvedically see here .
So now I understand that I infused this altar not just with 108 chants in the name of the above gods and goddesses but simultaneously, in each expression of vibration from my body, I charged it with my own respect and honour for the love and commitment about to be celebrated.
For years I just went along with what my teachers instructed… I namaste’d, chanted, sang sacred songs and mantras, it felt good, I enjoyed it but without fully understanding or asking why or for what purpose.
Then in 2013 I attended the Practice of Freedom and Wellbeing Immersion and was advised to try chanting 108 Maha Lakshmi’s for financial security, abundance and fertility (Leila Sadeghee again).
Hmmmmmm, ok, I thought, as where I am from the idea of sitting and ‘chanting for money’ will probably get you nowhere.
To start with at least I found that a chant in advance of meditation unlocked a more centred space for me to sit in meditation.
I also found that regularly declaring 108 times that I wished for the most beautiful, abundant, rich and fertile life I could possibly deserve empowered me to believe that I could actually have it…. it was as if the chants over powered my lack of self worth and converted it into ambition and confidence, quietly avoiding my saboteur and flowing straight into my heart.
Things changed, opportunities arose, I got out of debt and took control of my finances. This didn’t happen magically but by the quiet force of my intention that reflected back at me in the choice of mantra and commitment to repeat it 108 times.
I began to create an altar space in my house it used to be disguised hidden amongst the plants on my windowsill.
That was 4 years ago, my altar now has a central place on my windowsill not hidden anymore, I sit in front of it every day, it has candles, plants, feathers, rocks, sweets, money and photos because it holds the items that represent the people, places, elements and experiences I treasure most, it represents and reflects the commitment I make to my intentions. When it's been a while or I've been away from home I drawn to it like a magnet, I know with mantra and meditation my day feels clearer my thoughts arranged and feelings observed.
My deep felt thanks to my teachers Leila Sadeghee, Bridget Luff, Anja Bergh, Sianna Sherman and Tara Judelle who have provided me with hours of meditation, mantra and mythology study, which has now become a regular and fulfilling part of my practice..
The word Mantra was recently translated by Sianna Sherman (Sianna’s teaching on the mythology behind many of the chants is wonderful) she described Mantra as ‘the living form of the deity’ (goddess/god) and explained, it is said that chanting every day for:
40 days - changes your state
108 days - changes your karma
365 days - changes your destiny
The sanskrit translation literally explains why.
So the name 108.London represents my intention for yoga in London. As a yoga teacher I am called to reach people that would otherwise not know or choose to practice.
It is mysterious choice of number to most (I like that too) but to those in the know it represents a sacred, auspicious, special count. It activates and affirms a commitment to one's intentions.
What would you say 108 chants for? We want to know, why not come and try it out with me and beautiful Amisha Ghadiali who loves to chant even more than I do with 108 Maha Lakshmis’ some for Ganesh and Shiva.
Mantras to practice with:
Om shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha - for abundance, fertility, wealth, creativity and bliss.
I use it when I i have been living too close to hand to mouth, need create financial fluidity and freedom. Ultimately to remind me to see the expansion and opportunity in every aspect of my life
Om Gaum Ganapatayae Namah - is the mantra of the elephant god Ganesh for the power to move through contractions and challenges.
Simply for when I feel like I just need to get out of my own way.
Om Namaha Shivaya - is the Mantra of Shiva to infuse with life force and unshakable stability and honour of the divine self.
For when I want to raise the vibration, harness my power and ground my mood.