How do you start something new in your life? Whether it’s a new habit or creative endeavor? Or it’s a practice you want to do on a regular basis?
How do you take that first step? What gets you going?
This is often the most challenging part – getting started. Procrastination can feel more comfortable and easier to accept than starting something new.
So how can we get over procrastinating, so we begin?
Think of something you’d like to start that you have been putting off. Just one.
The key is to just get started. So, if you commit to a small amount of time that seems easy, you have started!
You can stop at the end of your allotted time – and feel good that you started. But, often, you might just want to continue for a little while longer, as you just got going. Why not continue?
You got started, but not sure how you will maintain that momentum to continue?
2. Make it simple - If you want to add something new as a regular practice, make it simple. Maybe you want to do a specific meditation each day, ideally it would be 20 minutes, you think. Start with 5 minutes to begin. Why? Because which will be easier to maintain and do each day 5 minutes or 20 minutes? Of course, the 5 minutes.
Later, once your practice is a habit, you can add to it if you’d like.
But, to begin, start simple.
3. Remember it’s a process- Keep in mind that everyone starts as a beginner at some point. And everyone moves through these 4 stages when beginning something new:
Just remembering these stages is helpful. You realize that soon it will get easier.
Be open to surprises. Sometimes the time in one phase may surprisingly be longer or shorter than what you thought. Maybe there is detour or shift as you get started. Accept your own journey and keep on the path moving forward .
Current research says that it takes an average of 66 days to create a new habit. It’s essential during this time to stick with it. No excuses or rationalizations or it may take much longer than 66 days!
4 easy steps to help you get going. Too much? Just do the first one, right now for 5 minutes or maybe just 1 minute. See how easy that is!
Interested in adding healing mantras to your spiritual practice? Start with just a few minutes each day. Check out my easy-to-use guidebook, How to Bring Life to Your Chakras: 7 Healing Mantras.
Sanskrit is considered a divine language – a language of the gods. It’s possibly the oldest language on earth. Its spiritual light shines through its sound and form.
It’s said that Sanskrit was given to the ancient Rishis (sages) and spoken by the enlightened beings of that time who passed the language to their students.
The word, Sanskrit, actually means “well or completely formed, purified, refined, polished.” The meaning of each letter in the Sanskrit alphabet is created by its sound and is considered a bija, or seed mantra.
The language of Sanskrit itself has transformed or evolved over time. Many say that it has become illuminated. Because it has been used by many enlightened beings in spiritual practice, their joy and light penetrated the very essence of the language.
Sanskrit became luminous, a poetic and musical language where the sounds and words are flowing and dynamic. They allow for many meanings and possibilities. They express many nuances and have a multidimensional quality.
For example, the root RAM has many meanings including (but not limited to) to be calm OR to delight in OR to rest OR to join OR to play.
Today, we can still use Sanskrit to connect with the Divine. The sound vibration of Sanskrit can bring balance, remove negativities from the mind, and bring healing to the physical body.
While chanting a Sanskrit mantra, your body relaxes and your mind becomes calm. Your head and your heart connect to your body. Energy flows to the process of restoring of your body, mind, and health back to wholeness. Back to balance which is our natural state.
When we select Sanskrit words to repeat in a mantra, we are invoking its meaning within us to help shift patterns from negative to positive. The effect of the mantra depends on proper pronunciation of the sound. Some linguists consider Sanskrit to be the perfect language as when its sounds are pronounced properly it evokes a unique vibration in the Universe that puts into motion whatever is trying to manifest through the mantra.
OM is a wonderful mantra in Sanskrit to include in a spiritual practice on a regular basis.
OM (ohm) is the representation of the totality of being, the sound of the universe. It’s the first, original vibration, representing birth, death, and rebirth. It is everything. It’s saying yes to Divine presence in the now.
Another favorite of mine is OM GAM GANESHAYA NAMAHA (ohm gung gah-nay-shah-yah nah-mah-hah). I like to use this one whenever I am facing a challenge or obstacle of some kind in my life.
Ganesha is the name of the Hindu deity and represents the power that is present in everything, as the power behind all power, and all the masses of energy that it controls.
This mantra is saying, “Lord, God of hosts, I invoke you.” Or “Ganesha, through whose power everything is possible, no obstacle can stand in Your way.”
You can listen to an audio of this mantra here in my Free Healing Library to support you in learning the correct pronunciation. Interested in learning more Sanskrit mantras to support your growth and healing in your life? Check out my guidebook, How to Bring Life to Your Chakras: 7 Healing Mantras.
Are you struggling to find the time to care for yourself and your own spiritual development on a consistent basis? You know that it would support you and your growth, but can’t seem to figure out where to fit it in?
Our lives seem to get very busy, don’t they?
Let me share with you a key that I’ve discovered works for me, and I’m sure will help you.
Take a few moments to think about what you do in a day that’s part of your rhythm and routine. Your weekdays may be different from your weekend, of course. That’s okay.
Maybe daily, you
Maybe a few times a week, you may
- spend time in nature
- spend relaxing time with family and/or friends
- spend time alone
- have some fun
- what else?
These pieces come as part of your usual routine and habits. Were any of the pieces you listed part of your self-care or part of your spiritual practice? How do you take care of yourself? How do you connect with the Divine on a regular basis?
A lot of times we think we don’t have time for this. It’s extra. It’s too much of a luxury. Too many other important things to do.
But, if we don’t take care of ourselves and our own well-being, then honestly we’re not able to show up as our best selves to engage in the world with others and share our gifts.
What do you need to do to care for yourself and your spiritual growth? And how often? What revitalizes you and brings you into a place of balance? What feeds your soul and nurtures you?
Whatever that is, the KEY is to make it a part of your rhythm and routine in your life. How can you do that in a way that sets yourself up for success?
Let’s first look at a few of the things you’d like to include regularly. Consider these:
Do you have others that are nourishing for you? Add them to the list! Now pick the ones you’d like to have in your daily routine and see where they can be added. Maybe like this:
Figure out how it can work for you, with whatever feeds you. Now make it a priority and schedule it for the time and day you desire. When I say schedule, I mean write it into you calendar! That will help you make it a rhythm and routine – which is the KEY.
In the beginning, it may be hard to remember, so set yourself an alarm or write yourself a note. Stick with it even if it takes a little effort to remember at first.
Once it becomes a habit and part of your routine, it will become so much EASIER. Give yourself about 4 weeks for this to settle in.
Then, your rhythm becomes your strength, and your strength stems from nourishing and caring for yourself.
Then you are ready to meet the world with vitality, joy, and strength each and every day!
Interested in adding mantra chanting into your spiritual practice? Check out my easy-to-use guidebook and accompanying recordings that are now available, How to Bring Life to Your Chakras: 7 Healing Mantras. In as little as 10 minutes a day, you can chant mantras to bring balance into your life.
Having a special space in your home that is designated as sacred can help you to take a moment to pause during the day and remember the Divine that is within you. This space can be used for prayer, meditation, and reflection. It can also be a place for breathing deeply and chanting mantras.
It’s a special and sacred place just for you.
For this work that is for you.
Your health, your growth, your healing.
You want it to warm your heart like a wonderful hug from a loved one. This space is for you. Your healing, your life.
Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Find the best location in your home.
Look for a space that is quiet, separate from activity in the house. A place that feels comfortable and protected to you. Where you can relax and not be surprised by someone opening a door or walking up behind you.
Not sure where, as space is limited in your home? Be creative. Look for a corner not being used. Add a curtain or a screen to make it more protected.
Or maybe there is a bookshelf, windowsill or the top of a dresser you could clear off.
Or how about a small stand or wooden box turned upside down and placed in a quiet place?
2. Make it comfortable and nurturing.
Take a closer look and see what is around your new space – the items, the color, the lighting. Consider how these will support you or maybe distract you. Make changes, as needed.
Having a nearby chair or a special pillow to sit on just for your sacred space will help you to be able to feel comfortable and to relax within the space.
What lighting would you like? A lamp nearby that emits warm light or just the light of a candle? Maybe the natural light that shines in a window nearby?
This is a healing space to nurture you and your body-spirit connection. Be sure it’s a space where you can come to calm and center. Where you can step away from the rest of the world into quiet solitude.
3. Ensoul the space with meaning and beauty.
Look around your home for items to add to your sacred space. They don’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Look for things that are meaningful to you.
Maybe a cloth to bring color to your space? Then some special items placed on it.
Things from the natural world such as a plant, stones, or a feather may be important pieces for grounding and connection.
What else do you want to include? Consider:
Use your senses – what might smell nurturing? Look inviting? Sound relaxing? Feel soothing to touch?
Arrange all of your special pieces with beauty in your sacred space.
Looking for more ideas of special items? How about these?
Interested in bringing mantra chanting into your spiritual practice more often? Check out my new guidebook and audios How to Bring Life into Your Chakras: 7 Healing Mantras.
You’ve probably heard mantras, possibly in a yoga class or in devotional music. Maybe ones such as Om Mani Padme Hum or Om Namah Shivaya.
But, what is a mantra exactly? And how are they beneficial to our health?
Mantras are the repetition of sacred words or phrases that have a deeper meaning or significance. All of the wisdom traditions have some form of mantra.
Mantras can be a way of focusing a sound within ourselves. Sound is a form of vibration and everything within the universe vibrates. Many wisdom traditions and creation myths share how the universe began with a sound – through speaking or singing.
By continuously repeating a mantra, we can introduce the vibrational frequency of that mantra into ourselves and sustain it for a period of time. After a little while, you begin to resonate with the vibration of the mantra and also the words. Since mantras have sacred and deeper meanings, you resonate at the vibrational frequency with the Divine, with healing power, with your Higher Self.
As you come to resonate at the same frequency as the mantra, over time, the mantra gains its own strength and momentum. At this point, you shift from chanting the mantra to the mantra having an effect upon you. This is the space in which a mantra can be deeply transformative.
Some say that mantras connect us to a universal archetypal energy field far greater than ourselves that reflects the nature and meaning of that mantra. We then vibrate with a higher level of consciousness that purifies the body and mind. These fields have been strengthened over many, many years by those who have repeated the mantra in the past, and they have tremendous potential for our healing and development. So, it’s important in choosing a mantra that you do so consciously, whether it’s for spiritual practice or healing.
Several mantras are used specifically for their healing properties. By connecting with the energetic level of the mantra, the area of the body that is holding stress, disease, or illness can experience a release and be filled with positive, healing energies.
Some mantras are specific to chakras, the energy centers in the body. These help to balance the chakras so that your energies will flow more smoothly and allow you to be your best possible self in the world.
I’ll share some guidance on how to use a mantra.
Mantras can be used anytime and anywhere when said internally. When you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed with your emotions or your thoughts, using a mantra can calm and center you. Bringing you to a place of groundedness and peace.
Not sure what mantra to choose to get started? A good place to start is with OM. Read about this mantra in my post here. Then explore guided mantra chanting for the 7 chakras in my Free Healing Library.
Ready to dive in and bring this transformative practice into your spiritual practice? Check out my recently released program, How to Bring Life to Your Chakras: 7 Healing Mantras.
I’m sure you’ve heard people chanting the sound OM in a yoga class or in devotional music. Maybe you’ve explored my Free Healing Library and listened to the mantra chanting for the chakras, discovering each one has the sound OM in it. But, how many of us understand and experience how potent this sound truly is?
The sound OM is a Sanskrit letter first found in the Vedas, sung in praise of the Divine. It’s one of the primordial seed syllables, or bija, mantras. This mystic syllable that’s considered to represent the primal sound of the Universe is the most sacred mantra in Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism.
It appears at the beginning and often the end of many Sanskrit mantras. Such as these two common mantras you may be familiar with: Om Gam Ganeshaya Namaha and Om Mani Padme Hum. Through its vibrational form created in sounding, OM connects us to the Divine.
Further teachings on the sound of OM were shared in the Upanishads, a collection of ancient Hindu sacred texts. The Mandukya Upanishad says, “OM is the universe… the past, the present, and the future, all that was, all that is, all that will be is OM. Likewise, all else that may exist beyond the bounds of time, that too is OM.”
OM is the most elemental of vibrations. It’s the sound of the void, the sound of the universe. OM is also the prime mantra of the Higher Self or Atman. It attunes us to our true nature.
When we sound using the power of the breath, we engage our life force in action as the vibrations resound. This action can manifest as the creation of speech, but also as connection with the Divine to manifest our Higher Self.
Masaru Emoto, the Japanese scientist who explored the effects of sound on water, demonstrated the power of our intention and speech on matter around us. Sound healers also use toning and chanting to bring about transformation and healing to the body and mind. The sound we create is powerful.
So, what’s the best way to sound this sacred syllable of OM for the greatest benefit?
OM is sometimes written as AUM to facilitate the sounding of it. It contains three sounds, A (“aaah”), U (“oooh”) and M (“mmm”). Give them a try now.
For the “aaah” sound, open the mouth and relax the jaw as you create the sound rising up from your belly. In “oooh,” the lips come a little closer together to create a circular form in the mouth, as the sound moves more to the heart/lung area. For “mmm,” the lips come together, as the tongue floats within the mouth, creating a vibrating or buzzing sound in the head. Finally, there is silence. This is often considered the 4th syllable of AUM, as the sound ripples out fades into the universe.
Each of the three sounds corresponds to a different aspect of the Divine – as creator, sustainer, and destroyer -- without which nothing exists, everything is sustained, and all things dissolve back into the void. In Hinduism, these are the gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
According to Paramahansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi: “OM or AUM of the Vedas became the sacred word Hum of the Tibetans, Amin of the Moslems, and Amen of the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Jews, and Christians.” The creative potency and transformative power of the sound seem to be shared across many different cultures and religious traditions.
Interested in exploring the sound of OM further?
Find mantras for cleansing the chakras in my Free Healing Library.
How to Bring Life to Your Chakras: 7 Healing Mantras (my guidebook with accompanying audio recordings) is also available! Click here to purchase your copy of this life-changing program.
At the Art as Meditation class of Chanting Wisdom at the Fox Institute For Creation Spirituality in July, David and I will be sharing the native instrument, didgeridoo, in honor of the Indigenous Wisdom Tradition. Have you ever had the pleasure of hearing one? What a beautiful and soothing sound!
Let me share a little with you about the instrument.
The didgeridoo is possibly the world's oldest musical instrument. It originated within the indigenous peoples of Australia, whose culture is believed to be at least 40,000 years old.
The didgeridoo is an instrument that is said to have been first used by the Northern Australian Aboriginals. Its much like a natural trumpet but it’s straight and without a mouthpiece. There are more than 40 different aboriginal names used for this instrument throughout Australia.
It originally was made from a eucalyptus branch that was hollowed out by termites and stripped bare of bark. Nowadays, this method, as well as others, is used to make didgeridoos.
Modern didgeridoos are typically made from eucalyptus, bamboo, or agave. The length of wood, thickness, and shape will determine the key of the instrument. Shorter lengths create higher pitches while longer lengths create lower ones.
After the termites are removed, as needed, and the bark stripped, a rim of beeswax can be applied to the opening for the mouth to reduce the size of the opening to one that can be easily played. The wax creates an airtight seal for the mouth, making it more comfortable to play. Finally, the instrument can be decorated.
The didgeridoo player works skillfully with the breath along with the mouth and tongue position to create a wide expression of sounds from melancholy to joyful. The didgeridoo is both a pitched instrument and a percussion instrument and is traditionally played with the accompaniment of clap sticks for ceremonial dances.
An Australian Aboriginal legend speaks to the origin of the instrument through story,
"At the beginning of time, all was cold and dark. Bur Buk Boon was gathering wood to create a fire in order to bring warmth and light to his family. He placed a log into the fire when he noticed one was hollow and filled with termites eating away the soft center of the log. As he didn’t want to injure the termites, Bur Buk Boon brought the empty log to his mouth and started to blow. The termites were blown up into the night sky and formed the stars and the Milky Way. And for the first time, the sound of the didgeridoo resounded through the land and blessed Mother Earth, protecting her and all Dreamtime spirits, with its vibrant sound for eternity ..."
In indigenous Australian culture, the didgeridoo is used in both sacred open ceremonies attended by anyone and in secret ceremonies restricted to specific members of the community. It’s also played recreationally as musical accompaniment to songs and for sound effects for storytelling.
Curious about the didgeridoo? Join my class on Chanting Wisdom at the FICS in July to learn more. Register here.
At the Art as Meditation class of Chanting Wisdom at the Fox Institute for Creation Spirituality in July, David and I will be sharing the powerful zikr, La Ilaha Illa Allah within the Islam wisdom tradition. In the class, students will learn the pronunciation of the words and join in chanting the mantra. Let me give you just a little taste of this mantra here, and I hope you are able to join us in the upcoming class!
A most treasured practice of the Sufi path is the zikr, a state of remembrance of the divine source of all of creation, Allah. To be in remembrance is to be in unity with Allah, and to be in unity is to be in the state of surrender to Allah. This is the true zikr, that which is the impulse of the Sufi path. As a way to achieve this state, a practice was given as a gift to students of Sufism by Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam. This practice of devotion includes the rhythmical, repetition of the name of the Divine.
One of the beloved zikrs is La Ilaha Illa Allah. Translated it means, “There is no reality, but the One” or “If there is no God, we do not exist…. and if God exists, then this is our creator and we appear.”
Here is a tale that helps us to better understand this zikr more deeply.
Once a Sheikh (Sufi master) came to Istanbul and went to the governing authority to ask permission to open a tekke or sufi lodge. The Sheikh was asked how many dervish members he has and the reply was only one dervish, and the master himself.
….An old rundown building was available and given to them. The Sheikh with one dervish accepted it with an open heart.
Very soon, radiant light was shining from within the building as the sound of zikr could be heard every night and as many came to join together in practice.
The governing authorities wanted to know what this man was doing to draw so many people to him and what was this light that was coming from the old building.
So the Sheikh was summoned. The officials said, "We are the educated ones and we want to question you to make sure you are doing things correctly."
"All right,” was the humble answer.
"What is the meaning of la ilaha illa Allah?" they asked.
"Do you want the meaning as you understand it, or do you want the meaning as I understand it?"
"We know how we understand it. Tell us how you understand it."
"For this I need my one dervish, the one I brought with me the first time I came to this building."
They agreed and say down as he and his dervish begin to practice the zikr. When he said, "La ilaha," his dervish disappeared. When he said, "ill Allah," he appeared. When he said, "la ilaha" again, they both disappeared. With "ill Allah" they reappeared.
The last time he said, "la ilaha, "the entire room disappeared. And when he said, "illa Allah," everyone appeared.
He turned to face the officials and said, "This is how I understand the zikr."
- adapted from the book, When You Hear Hoofbeats Think of a Zebra by shams Friedlander.
"There is no reality, but the One."
Interested in deepening your work with mantras? Join my class on Chanting Wisdom at the FICS from July 23rd through July 27th. Find out more here
David and I are looking forward to be teaching a Chanting Wisdom course at the FICS in a few weeks. We’ll be sharing chants from 6 wisdom traditions. The 4th one that we’ll share is from the Christian tradition entitled This is the Day the Lord Has Made. If you missed the posts on the first 3, you can still find them by scrolling down below this post.
This is the Day the Lord Has Made is a celebration of this day, this one day, that we have been given as a precious gift from God. It holds great possibilities and opportunities. It reminds us that we only have this one day and not to dwell on the past days or become anxious about the future days. But be completely present with this day.
Let us celebrate this one and glorious day that the Lord has given us. Let us look at it with fresh eyes and hopeful anticipation of what good could arise, no matter what has come in our days of the past.
Here are some of the lyrics in the song that we will chant in class by Fred Hammond.
Just clap your hands like this
Just clap your hands like this….
You know that He's good and His mercy endureth forever
And the people of God said, they said what
And the people of God said, yeah
And the people of God said, yeah…
Now we serve notice to depression, confusion
All manner of evil and every sickness
You came in to bind but you cannot stay
'cause the people of God we ain't havin' it
It's a good day, even though I cried last Tuesday
And I was out of cash by Friday
No matter what comes next, I'm gonna stand up
And give him the praise 'cause this is the day
This is the day, this is the day
That the Lord has made, that the Lord has made
I will rejoice, I will rejoice
And be glad in it, glad in it
This is the day that the Lord has made
I will rejoice and be glad in it
This is the day, this is the day
That the Lord has made
This is the day, this is the day
That the Lord has made, that the Lord has made
I will rejoice, I will rejoice
And be glad in it, glad in it….
Come join us and rise in celebration for this one wonderful day that we are given to live!
Interested in Chanting the Wisdom Traditions? Join my class starting soon at the FICS. More details here.
David and I are excited to be teaching a Chanting Wisdom course at the FICS in July. We’ll be sharing chants from 6 wisdom traditions. The third one that we’ll share is from the Jewish tradition entitled Modeh Ani. Let me introduce you to this chant if you’re not already familiar with it.
The Modeh Ani prayer is generally said by Jews when one first awakes, while still in bed. It refers to God as the eternal and living king. It offers thanks to God for returning the soul to the body after sleep, so that one can live another day. This awakening is a smaller daily experience of a death and resurrection. Out of the depths of sleep (a kind of death), we’re able to rise again (resurrection) for a new day.
Here is the translation, Hebrew, and transliteration.
“I am thankful before You, living and enduring King, for you have mercifully restored my soul within me. Great is Your faithfulness.”
The Modeh Ani is one of the first blessings that a Jewish child is taught. This shows the significance of learning to express gratitude to God for the gift of a new day of life.
We know that if we cultivate an attitude of gratitude, we can lead more enriching lives. It can help us to shift our mood and open our mind, body, and spirit to the flow of abundance all around.
Gratitude can be practiced no matter what is happening in your life right now. There is always something to be grateful for.
Awakening to a new day
The sun rising
Mother Earth who feeds and sustains us
What can you add to the list?
Gratitude opens the door to abundance consciousness because it gets you to the source, which is the source of all things, says Deepak Chopra, world-renowned mind-body healing pioneer. In fact, scientific studies have shown that people who have a grateful outlook on life get sick less often, exercise more, sleep better and have more energy.
Interested in learning to chant Modeh Ani along with chants from other wisdom traditions? Join my class in July at the FICS. More details here.
I was born in London, England, educated in Switzerland, and am fluent in English, German, Spanish, and French. I hold a Doctorate in Ministry Degree and Masters Degrees in Counseling Psychology and Education. Also, I am an accomplished artist and educator. I use all of this and much more when helping others heal their souls.