Healing Mantras by Thomas Ashley-Farrand
I will come back to Cheri Huber's book another time. In the meantime, I've been reading Healing Mantras by Thomas Ashley-Farrand. This is a very friendly introduction to using Sanskrit mantra to promote healing, insight, creativity and spiritual growth. The book I bought includes a CD on which the author demonstrates how to pronounce and chant the majority of the mantras covered in the book. It's an excellent resource for anyone interested in chanting.
I love chanting and have always loved it, but I wasn't sure how to do it and felt self-conscious about it. Hubby bought me an MP3 player a few years ago and I downloaded some chants and attempted to chant along with them, but that practice fell away. The chants I could find didn't resonate with me. (Except the Heart Sutra! See the bar at the right, and click the link to hear it chanted. I love that one). Mantras are a bit different, in that they are shorter phrases packed with energy and intention, chanted aloud (or silently) in sets of 108 repetitions.
I first discovered mantra through Ravi & Ana's kundalini yoga workouts. Those mantras are sung in Gurmukhi, and are Sikh mantras.
I then stumbled upon Sanskrit mantra when I ordered my first Deva Premal album in order to get to the Gurmukhi track 'Aad guray nameh' on her album, 'Dakshina'. (I discovered that online while doing a search for kundalini mantra). I have since ordered most of her back catalog, and 'Dakshina' remains my favourite. She has recorded traditional Sanskrit (and some other) mantras in a non-traditional way. She has been called 'the Enya of mantra'. Her music is classed under 'New Age' or 'Yoga'. Her music is just so beautiful, I listen to it every morning while getting ready for work. Her songs are Sanskrit mantra, and so it is just the same phrase over and over.
Listen to these 2 fairly traditional (though quite slickly rendered) versions of the Gayatri mantra. I really like both very much, particularly the first one:
Gayatri Mantra (traditional)
Another Gayatri Mantra
Now listen to Deva's version:
Gayatri Mantra (Deva Premal)
(This mantra has an entire chapter devoted to it in the book 'Healing Mantras'.
Om bhur bhuva swaha
Tat savitur varenyam
Bhargo devasya dhimahi
Dhiyo yonah prachodayat
It is a chanted with the intention of enlightenment and is very difficult to translate. Deva's album sleeve renders it:
'Through the coming, going and the balance of life
The essential nature which illumines existence
is the adorable one.
May all perceive through subtle intellect
the brilliance of enlightenment.'
I have also seen it translated:
'Let us meditate on the splendour of God,
who illuminates our understanding.'
You can google it and find many translations. 'Healing Mantras' translates it as:
'O self-effulgent Light that has given birth to all the spheres of consciousness, who is worthy of devotion, illumine our intellect.')
To chant an entire mala (108 repetitions) while singing like that, though, was not Deva's intention and doesn't really work. You have to chant. That's why I was so glad that she came out with her album 'Mantras for Precarious Times', because she just actually chants mantra for 108 reps. Here's the one I've been doing:
Om gum ganapatayei namaha
I don't know if that link will let you play the track, but it's worth a try.
Anyway, I'm enjoying exploring this new world of real chanting, and the book is very helpful. I am now 17 days into my 40 day sadhana using the Ganesh (Ganapata) mantra. I chant one mala, then sit in silence and count breaths (Zen style) for 10 minutes, twice a day. It's lovely.