Drumming, mantras and mandalas; what do they have in common? Aside from each being rhythmic in nature, these are the tools that helped me to open up to limitless possibility. By using any of these methods as a focus point, we gain the ability to quiet the chatter in our minds and connect with our higher selves. Call it self-awareness or "finding yourself," the fact of the matter is that prior to my "waking up" I was dying inside a little bit more every day. I was shallow and lacked compassion, made terrible errors in judgment and felt depressed and overall disconnected from my spirit.
Drumming came first and changed everything for me because for the first time ever, I found a place where I wasn't judged for who I was, or even for the level of my abilities. It empowered me. Chanting came soon after and I was first exposed to it through my friend Jim Donovan who learned from Krishna Das. My first experiences chanting were with mantras that were non-devotional in nature - as in, they weren't prayers or salutations to any specific deity but instead, energetic phrases designed to move energy within us. (Raise our vibration.) I loved the way chanting made me feel (calm and grounded) and would over the years add new mantras which seemed to resonate with my needs.
I found that I enjoyed writing the mantras and even using them in my art and was surprised to learn that there was a specific form of devotion dedicated to this. In the book Mantras Words of Power, Swami Radha says "...Likhita Japa, in which the Mantra is written down in lines like sentences, or in shapes and forms...any design that will help reinforce your devotions."
Enter the mandalas. Over the last seven years I've created thousands upon thousands of these circular designs with their repeating patterns and on many occasions I've chanted mantras during their creation.
Even though I've always been sharing my art on the web, I see now that the actual creation of my art was much more personal and introspective in nature prior to my life at the Banana Factory and "coming out" as an artist to my local community. Having a publicly accessible art space makes it all too easy for my years of retail experience kick in and then I caught up in making art for the wrong reasons. It is all too easy to get distracted by what you think you should be doing as an artist, to what you need to be doing as an artist to satisfy the needs of your soul.
When I conceptualized"She is (I AM) Light" I was RELENTLESS with the idea that I had to do this pice first and foremost for ME. This meant making it personal again- which is why I chose to incorporate so many mantras. Everything in this piece is a part of me. All of it. Everything in it has some level of significance or else I wouldn't have included it.
Mantras, affirmations, and blessings used in "She is (I AM) Light"
- Om Hum So Hum: A traditional Sanskrit mantra used to balance male and female energies.
- Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung: Tibetan healing mantra
- Om Mani Padme Hum: Simplified, love is everywhere.
- Om Bhoor Bhovas Suvaha Tat Savitur Varenyam Bhargo Devasaya Dhimahi Dhiyoyona Prachodayaat: The Gayatri mantra, chanted for wisdom and illumination.
- Om Droom Soha Om Amrite Ayer Da De Soha: chanted to remove generational negative karma
- Om Amogha Vairocana Maha Mudra Mani Padme Jvala Pravartaya Hum: Known as the Mantra of Light (I'm still working to find a simplified meaning for this mantra - I believe it's something along the lines of purification.)
- Aad Guray Nameh Jugaad Guray Sat Guray Nameh Siri Guru Daveh Nameh: Gurmukhi language primarily of the Punjab region of India. A mantra of protection, typically chanted a minimum of three times. A Sikh mantra. The Mangala Charn Mantra
- Happy Health Calm and Strong: A mantra I created 17 years ago (1996) to ease anxiety.
- You are loved, and you are enough: A reminder of the truth, an affirmation.
- May all be happy, may all be at peace, may peace prevail on earth. So be it: The Metta Prayer of Lovingkindness. I've heard it in several different forms. This was my first and still my favorite.
A series of in-progress pictures of this exhibit's creation can also be found on Flickr.