This is the night when you can trust that any direction you go, you will be walking toward the dawn.Jan Richardson
The number 108 has held significance in culture and ritual through the ages. In numerology 108 is referred to as Harshad (joy giver) representing universal love. The digits in 108 can be added to equal 9 and 108 can also be divided by 9. In mathematics, it is deemed an abundant number. For Hindus, there are 108 attendants of Shiva. In Buddhism, there are 108 feelings. At Buddhist temples in Japan, the bells are rung 108 times for the new year.
Malas have 108 beads used for the recitation of meditations. People don’t necessarily get in the full 108 rounds on a daily basis. The solstice is a perfect time to commit to reciting a mantra 108 times. I suggest the Siri Gaitra Mantra, “RA MA DA SA SA SAY SO HUNG” which means “Sun, Moon, Earth, Infinity: All that is Infinity I am Three.” This mantra is practiced to send healing energy near and far. We start at the guru bead or tassel and slide to the next bead using your thumb and middle finger with each recitation. If you don’t have a mala you can press your thumb to your fingertips – moving from second to third to ring finger on one hand then the other with each recitation for a total of 13.5 times. 13 times will get you to 104 then do one more round, on just one hand, to get you to 108! Here is a beautiful recording of RA MA DA SA by Snatum Kaur to help you send your healing energy out into the world!
Doing 108 sun salutations is like an embodied mantra or prayer that enables us to harness our own healing energy as we align breath to movement. It is said that ancient yogis practiced 108 sun salutations (surya namaskar) on the solstice and equinox and many people follow the practice to this day. The magical number 108 makes it easy for us to adapt the practice to make it accessible for most of us. Solstice means “sun stop” as the sun appears to stop for three days before reversing its trajectory. If we divide 108 by three – we can break our practice down to 36 a day. This can be further divided by 3 allowing us to do three sets of 12 (say morning, noon, and night) or conversely twelve sets of three (perhaps on the hour).