Since I wrote that last entry, I've embarked on a 40-day sadhana in the run-up to my driving test.
I've ditched my July exercise rotation to focus on daily yoga practice and chanting of a mantra for removal of obstacles:
Om gum ganapatayei namaha
This mantra is to Ganesha (I've added a very light-hearted graphic of 'baby' Ganesha--it was too cute to resist, and I think sometimes the more traditional depictions can be very offputting at first glance--) Ganesha (also called Ganapati) is the god of success and the remover of obstacles. He is one of the five prime Hindu deities. He has a lot of arms because he's a busy boy and has a lot of work to do! He holds a goad (to prod mankind forward toward our goals), a lotus (enlightenment), a noose (for capturing and removing obstacles) and a bowl of fruit (for abundance). His head represents our spirit (the Atman), the trunk is the Om, his pot-bellied body represents the earthly life. And he is accompanied by a mouse, the lowliest of creatures, to represent humility.
I used to be quite repelled by the image of Ganesh, but the more I've learned about him, the more I like him. I'm going to get a figure of him to go on my altar with Buddha, Jesus, and Kwan Yin (aka Avalokiteshvara).
The chant, to me, is not a prayer to an actual deity, but a hello to the 'remover of obstacles' within myself. To me, all the dieties represent aspects of myself. I don't have to seek him or invite him or welcome him, he's an aspect of myself that is already here. I just have to say hello to him.
Om -- the universal
Gum -- the seed sound of Ganesha
Ganapatayei -- the name of Ganesha (Ganapati) -- the 'yei' is kind of a little add on to give it some oomph; it sort of means exalted (many Buddhist chants refer to Buddha as Buddhaya, for example)
Namaha -- 'I bow' or 'I greet' or 'I acknowledge'
The main reason I chose this mantra is because it's on Deva Premal's new album, 'Mantras for Precarious Times'. To do one japa mala (108 repetitions) of this mantra takes a little over 8 minutes. Here's what Deva says about this mantra:
Salutations to the remover of obstacles.
This sound formula assists us in the removal of obstacles. In order for this to happen there is no need to know the exact nature of the hindrances. Just the awareness and recognition that there are obstacles and then chanting this mantra with the intention for resolve is enough. This mantra unifies us within. When there is oneness, there are no obstacles.
This mantra is also used for the beginning of any endeavor. Whenever we start anything anew we can bless the project with the energy of Ganesh through this mantra.
I've been using my carnelian mala, then following the chanting with 10 minutes' silent meditation. This usually comes directly after a yoga practice, but I've also done it first thing in the morning as well, so I'm actually chanting twice a day.
I've chanted every day for the last 3 days, and I've driven a car each day this week, except today. (Saturday is not a good day for a learner to be out in Nuneaton!) But I'm hitting the road again tomorrow morning.
Here are a couple more traditional Ganesha images:
There isn't a sample of Deva's recording of this mantra, but I did find a few good ones on YouTube. This one doesn't sound much like Deva's but you'll get the idea:
Om gum ganapatayei namaha