I read Lofty Promises: An Election Eve Tribute to the American Essay. In that essay, Joey Franklin mentions that in 1961, James Baldwin wrote “The time has come, God knows, for us to examine ourselves but we can only do this if we are willing to free ourselves of the myth of America and find out what is really happening here.” Franklin’s gorgeous essay pays tribute to the literary form of the American essay as it has been a great tool for helping us to examine ourselves, to articulate what is really happening, and to free ourselves from ignorant myths.
I like to wonder, are there other tools–in addition to the essay–that can help us to free ourselves of the myth of America and examine what is going on here?
One way that I have found to free myself is to study Sanskrit language. In high school, I studied French. That freed me to explore avant-guarde aesthetics. In college and grad school, I studied Chinese. That freed me to become more concise in my writing. In yoga teaching programs, I have studied, read, wrote, and recited Gurmukhi. This freed me to explore the spiritual warrior within me.
But now I am thrilled to be focusing on Sanskrit.
From my previous experiences, I know that language study has proved a great way to free my mind from psychological conditioning, useless internal monologue in my native English, and tired cultural restraints. When I learn a new language and start to use that language, I feel that I grow a whole new personality, a fresh psychology, and a more expansive expressive range.
What’s great about Sanskrit is that, while speaking in other languages can deplete energy (just consider how you feel if you have been lecturing in English all day long), speaking, repeating, and chanting Sanskrit is a life-giving force. The more you repeat Sanskrit, the more energy you have.
Sanskrit scholar, Dr. Katy Jane says,
When you speak, your life force gets expelled with each exhalation you speak. With every word, your life force gets diminished. Talking is truly akin to death.
With Sanskrit–the language of yoga–the opposite happens. As you pronounce each syllable, your prana (life force) gets redirected back into your body, replenishing your energy. It gives you life.
This election season, I have had the blessing and privilege to study Sanskrit. This has made me feel energized and happy.
How has this study freed me from the myth of America? A current myth of America is that the leadership in Washington is contributing to our well-being. It is not. We need to take well-being into our own hands. I study Sanskrit, and I am not getting my energy depleted by engaging in unnecessary complaining. I am devoting energy to volunteer projects with local schools, reforestation projects, and literary arts and education. I am utterly clean and pure as far as feeling influenced in my mind and energy by any social media or misinformation; my internal well-being remains totally in tact and even joyful. I also know exactly what words to say aloud that will serve to refuel me and those with whom I am speaking. Sanskrit helps me know how to never waste breath and never waste words. Both breath and words are precious resources for maintaining good physical, mental, energetic, and spiritual well-being.
With humility and enthusiasm, I start with meditation on the Sanskrit alphabet in the human body. This encourages freedom from the myth of America. This is also a good meditation for helping to know what exactly is going on here. The experience of freeing oneself from the myth of America is different for everyone. The experience of knowing exactly what is going on here is different for everyone. Each experience is unique, necessary, and part of the divine matrix. So, it is impossible to put into a blog post, or even in an American essay, what these liberations and revelations look like for each unique being. But I can sense that, for me personally, studying Sanskrit, being a humble and eager student, and meditating on the Sanskrit alphabet, is a great start to feeling absolutely sovereign within myself and my community. I do plan to vote, but my act of voting is beautifully complicated by the fact that the American myth that I have released is the myth that I am governed or that I am governable. I am not either of those.
I am conscious.