In our upcoming class at the Fox Institute, my husband David Sharp and I are looking forward to teaching the Art as Meditation class: Chanting Wisdom. One of the mantras we will be teaching, the Gayatri Mantra, from the Hindu tradition is a beautiful and powerful one that you may consider chanting regularly as part of your spiritual practice. I’ll share a little here about it with you.
The Gayatri Mantra is a sacred Hindu prayer with soothing rhythms that flows from the heart of the chanter and spirals out into the world. It’s chanted around the world with reverence and love, invoking divine wisdom and peace for all.
The two words “Gayatri Mantra” could be translated as “a prayer of praise that awakens the vital energies and gives liberation from ignorance.”
Here are the words of the common, shorter form of the Gayatri Mantra are:
OM BUHR, BHUVA, SWAHA
OM TAT SAVITUR VARENYAM
BHARGO DEVASYA DHEEMAHI
DHIYO YONAHA PRACHODAYAT
Translated in a basic way, it means “May the divine light of the Supreme Being illuminate our mind, to lead us on a path in the right direction.”
“O Divine Creator, we contemplate thy divine light. May it stimulate our mind and promote illumination within us.”
A slightly longer translation may be:
“Om, the Universal Divine Energy, vital spiritual energy, the essence of our life existence, positivity, destroyer of sufferings, the happiness that is bright and luminous like the Sun, the best destroyer of evil thoughts, the Divinity who grants happiness, may you shine Divinity and Brilliance into us so that it will purify us and guide us with wisdom on the right path.”
This mantra comes from the Rig Veda and has been chanted for thousands of years. The ancient scriptures describe how a sage was given the mantra from the Supreme Being as a gift for his many years of devotion so that it could be shared with humanity. Its significance for Hindus might be comparable to the Lord’s Prayer in the Christian tradition.
For many Hindus, the Gayatri Mantra is seen as a divine awakening of the individual mind and soul, called Atman, and a path of unity to Brahman, the collective consciousness.
As a heartfelt prayer, it can be chanted by those who approach it with pure intentions and an openness to its power, even outside of the Hindu wisdom tradition. It can open the heart to experience a deep sense of gratitude and a devotion to the seeking of wisdom and illumination.
You can listened to it here.
The beautiful ancient sounds and rhythmic flow with a powerful intent make the mantra a wonderful part of one’s regular spiritual practice.
Interested in learning several chants from many wisdom traditions, join me in my class at the FICS in July.
I recently was working with St. Hildegard’s music for the sacred text of Kyrie, envisioning how to put this music to movement to create a body prayer. The words and the music are quite powerful in themselves, but I wanted to be able to deepen this work through bringing related movements to people in a group setting. Here are the words:
Kyrie Eleison (Creator of Life, Awaken Love Within Us)
Christe Eleison (Creator of Love, Awaken Love Within Us)
Kyrie Eleison (Creator of Life, Awaken Love Within Us)
Kyrie Eleison (Creator of Life, Awaken Love Within Us)
(translation by Norma Gentile)
Once I created the movements, I brought this dance to my recent class on St. Hildegard at the Fox Institute. The movements helped us feel into themes from the four paths of Creation Spirituality: love, interdependence, letting pain be pain and creativity.
(Jeannine with the model of Rupertsberg and stained glass pieces used during her class on St. Hildegard at the Fox Institute)
Maybe you have heard the words ‘body prayer’ but are wondering what this is exactly?
Body prayer is a wonderful way to intentionally connect with the Divine through movement. Picture spiritual practice in motion.
It can be as simple as taking a walk with presence and an intention to connect to the Divine. Or it can be more complex such as yoga which has become very popular as a spiritual practice in recent years.
If you are someone who enjoys movement or find that you best connect with the Divine Source while moving, you might want to bring body prayer into your spiritual practice on a regular basis, if you haven’t yet.
Here are a two easy ways to get started:
Take a walk in nature - Begin your walk with a sense of gratitude for Mother Earth, the trees, the plants, the air you breathe, and this day that you have.
Set an intention to be open to any communication that may come to you to support you on your path of spiritual growth. Walk in silence, yet with presence to the moment. Not thinking of the past nor the future. But present to all that is in the moment while walking, listening to what may arise. End the walk with a moment of gratitude.
Walk a labyrinth - If you have one available to you, walking a labyrinth is another way of walking as body prayer. A labyrinth is a pathway created on the ground that symbolizes life’s journey.
Stand at the entrance and set an intention to open yourself to the Divine. While walking toward the center, consider what you can let go of that is weighing you down in your life.
When you reach the center, pause and be fully present to the moment and any message that may arise. As you turn to walk the path out of the labyrinth, consider how to integrate any wisdom you received. Pause again at the end, which is where you began, to express your gratitude.
To deepen your experience with body prayer, you can bring together the singing of sacred text with movement, as I did with St. Hildegard’s Kyrie. From the beginning of time, people have engaged in similar sacred movement and song as a way to connect with Spirit and come together in ceremony or celebration.
Today, we can sing, engaging our breath and vocalizing the sacred words while enhancing the experience through moving the body intentionally with the music. It connects us with the depth and truth of the meaning of the sacred text, experienced within our whole being. This is a potent and powerful spiritual practice where you can experience a sense of unity with Source and with the universe through deep peace.
The Dances of Universal Peace are one wonderful way we can experience this in community. These group dances are simple and yet profound. They are set to sacred texts and mantras from the world’s spiritual traditions and taught to the group by a Dance Leader often with live music accompaniment. The movements are inspired from the sacred texts and embody the essence of the spiritual message and our relationship to Life. Through repetition of the sacred phrase and flowing movement, there is a meditative deepening that arises.
Interested in exploring more ways to engage in body prayer? Check out the offerings at the FICS in Boulder.
Life’s journey can sometimes bring us surprises. Sometimes joyous ones. But, sometimes challenging ones where we have to search to find the treasure that may be hidden inside.
Somehow, in those moments, we’re called to find our strength, find our power from within, to navigate our way forward. One step at a time.
In a quiet moment, you may contemplate, where does that strength come from? How do I find it? How does it arise?
I’m often inspired by the image of St. Hildegard holding her abbess staff. Her strength and power from within radiates out to the world as she speaks, “God created me… God is also my strength… Through God, I have living spirit. Through God I have life and movement. Through God I learn, I find my path…”
We see how she finds her strength through connecting with the Divine.
To find our own power, we can come to our center, that space that’s still and quiet within the whirlwind of turmoil. There we can connect with the Source. We then find strength and power to carry us forward on our life’s journey. Bringing us hope and encouragement.
I’ll share some ways to support you in finding that center where you can tap into your own strength and power that already exists.
1. Cultivate a quiet time and space regularly. When you enter into this, you can access a greater wisdom within yourself and in the universe. In being silent, you open to listening to communication that can come from the Divine within you.
2. Trust there is a greater power within the universe. A divine wisdom and higher consciousness that is at the foundation of all of life. Connecting to this, gives you strength, power, and courage.
3. Identify where you lose your power. Claim it back. When you lose strength, you feel powerless. If you just “go along” with others or “give in” to others when you really have a different idea, you lose your power. If you believe others matter more than you do, you lose your power. Standing up for your thoughts and yourself maintains your power within. Not powering over another, but power that radiates from within you. Your voice, your path, your journey. You matter.
4. Be willing to forgive. Holding on to hurt and pain from the past can drain your energy and strength. Create the space within to forgive yourself and others. This can soften your feelings and radiate love to others, giving you strength.
5. Foster resilience. Strive to bounce back from challenging times instead of feeling defeated or a victim. Return to a place of balance and strength. This can be cultivated through practicing the first 4 regularly.
Interested in joining a community of support on your life’s journey? Check out the offerings at the Fox Institute of Creation Spirituality in Boulder.
As I’ve been preparing for my class Engaging Hildegard's Music, Art and Herbs which I will be teaching next week at the Fox Institute for Creation Spirituality, I’ve been pondering the way that we may experience divine wisdom that guides us.
I’m sure many of us have experiences where we receive a type of message that seems to come from something greater than us. It gives us new knowledge or understanding in a way that is above and beyond what we knew beforehand. It seems to tap into the deeper river of divine wisdom within and the divine wisdom outside of us in the universe. Possibly experienced as intuition or a spirit guide communicating to us or even our Higher Self guiding us.
Maybe you see something that is visual – images, colors, or pictures. Possibly in a dream or just as you awake in the morning. Or maybe you hear words spoken within your mind. Or you just have a deeper feeling or knowing. Yet, you experience, the Divine is communicating with you.
I’ve always been intrigued by the visions, or illuminations, St. Hildegard experienced and then wrote about. She wrote of the visual images she saw and words she heard spoken. She felt that God was speaking through her. Here’s an excerpt from her letter to Guibert of Gembloux where she describes how she experiences her visions:
In my visions, my soul rises high into the vault of heaven and spreads itself out among different people, even those in distant lands and places. And because I see the visions this way in my soul, I observe them without my outward ears, without the thoughts of my own heart or by any combination of my fives senses.
I witness them in my soul alone, while my outward eyes are open. So, I have never fallen prey to ecstasy in the visions, but I see them wide awake, day and night.
The light that I see the visions in is far brighter than any cloud that carries the sun.
I can measure neither height, nor length, nor breadth in the light. I call the Light “the Living Light.” And as the sun, the moon and the stars appear in water, so writings, sermons, virtues, and certain human actions take form for me and gleam within it.
What I write is what I see and hear in the visions….. And the words in the visions are not like words uttered by the mouth of man, but like words uttered by a shimmering flame, or a cloud floating in a clear sky.
St. Hildegard's Illuminations are powerfully inspiring for me. In this photo you can see me tap dancing to the words she heard to accompany the image behind me. This vision is called The Person in Sapphire Blue and she writes about this vision in her first book, Scivias:
I saw a very bright light, and inside it there was a person who was the color of a sapphire. This person and bright light were completely surrounded by a very pleasant fire of reddish color. The very bright light completely surrounded this fire of reddish color, and at the same time this fire completely surrounded the light. Both the fire and the light surrounded the person, existing as one light with one force of potentiality. And then I heard the Living Light speak to me. It said:
‘The bright light signifies God who is without any blemish of illusion, defect and falsehood.’
‘The person signifies the Word who is without blemish of hard-heartedness, ill will and unfairness.’
‘The fire signifies the Holy Spirit who is without any blemish of dryness, death and darkness.’
How are you guided? How do you receive messages from the spiritual world?
It’s important that we are open to receiving messages. That we have a clear path for communication. And that it’s not cluttered with obstacles that may appear as communication but are simply unhealed aspects of our past or our fears or emotions.
Here are 4 ways that I have found effective in supporting openness and allowing a higher wisdom to communicate to you in your everyday life:
Curious to explore more? Take a look at all of the offerings for the Spring and Summer at the Fox Institute of Creation Spirituality in Boulder. Click 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.