July 30, 2014 on 10:57 am

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Dear Spiritual Explorer: I am so glad you have the sequel to Healing Mantras: Chakra Mantras. I met Mr. Ashley-Farrand in 2009 at a lecture right before he had passed. It was a true honor to hear such a gifted, spiritual man who gave so much of himself to the world. Renee P., Anselm, MA

Chakra Mantras

Chakra Mantras

Dear Renee: You are so right; Mr. Ashley- Farrand was a gift to the world with his many mantras designed to heal or help almost any situation in one’s life. Healing Mantras has been by my bedside for many years and Chakra Mantras is right on top of it. In Healing Mantras, Mr.Ashley- Farrand wrote a practical manual for using mantras and the rhythms of healing sounds to help solve everyday life and health matters. He said, “You can use mantras to help you with any issue and to change your life for the better.”

Even though one was encouraged to do a mantra for any number of days, he truly recommended initially the 40 day discipline, saying that it symbolized Moses’ 40 days in the desert and Christ’s fast of 40 days. He hoped that one would attempt their mantra at least 108 times morning and evening; that practice could fix the mantra in one’s consciousness so that it would start to pervade one’s waking awareness. You might then find yourself using it to help in other situations, such as being stuck in traffic, waiting in a doctor’s office, picking up your kid at school, before an exam and so many other uses.  Mr. Ashley-Farrand was not a spiritual snob. He was anxious that you find a mantra suited for your health, attracting love, mastering fear, self-empowerment and finally, chanting for the planet. In his generosity and compassion, he provided a mantra for every occasion.

In Chakra Mantras, Mr. Ashley Farrand brings previously hidden knowledge from India and Tibet and teaches us how through the use of mantras we may activate our secret chakras which contain the keys to our spiritual progress. Now we all know that chakras are the keys to restoring health in ourselves as we learn to access and heal the energy awaiting us within them. But Mr. Ashley-Farrand in Chakra Mantras, teaches us of another level of accessing chakras so that we can attain higher levels of spiritual energy in which to operate.

It has been said that our chakras retain information about our pasts and that because of the retention of that information within the chakras, we are somehow bound to repeat the mistakes of our pasts. As we practice yoga and kundalini yoga, in particular, as the kundalini rises through the chakras, it has been said that it frees that information within the chakras and we are no longer bound to a sodden repetition of behavior. In fact, we become truly free in our lives and can operate from the present instead of the past.

What a glorious opportunity and challenge for all of us to continue our practices, knowing that they can lead to a final release of all that has plagued us in our efforts to restore health and sanity to ourselves. Hidden, ancient knowledge is transmitted in Chakra Mantras, waiting for us to delve into the mysteries and possibilities of the chakras.

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July 25, 2014 on 11:11 am

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Today I’m going to talk about a talent that I have just discovered for myself. Ordinarily, I confess to listening to the same favorites over and over and am reluctant to open myself to new music. However, somebody played for me Anugama’s Shamanic Dream and I became quite smitten with his music. Apparently, it awoke a demand in his followers and after some time, his sequel, Shamanic Dream 2 came on the market. Both CD’s have that same original flavor of meditative depth and inspiration.


Shamanic Dream

Anugama is a gifted multi-instrumentalist who has been on the scene apparently for more than 20 years. (Okay, I’m out of touch.) While I am a lover of shamanic style music, I note that Anugama’s range is from tribal rhythmical dance music and other lyrical melodies to flute music derived from a wide variety of cultures.

What I appreciated most about Anugama’s shamanistic music and what seems to compel me about this music also, is what feels to be an ethereally generated quality opening to vastness and silence that allows me to explore my own sense of depth and quiet. Anyone who follows the path of shamanistic journeying is appreciative of this quality engendered by Anugama; you are brought down into what feels like a soul experience that is both healing and life affirming. In fact, it is the shaman’s desire to assist you in recovering those parts of yourself that have lain dormant and unrevealed in your life. Anugama’s music furthers that journey through harmonizing and revitalizing the energy centers of the shaman traveler.


Shamanic Dream 2

I discovered that Anugama was born in Cologne, Germany, where at age eight he began playing the recorder flute. Years later, Anugama took up the guitar and the flow of musical creativity continued in his teens through drums with a number of soul groups. What was remarkable about Anugama was that he never had formalized training and thus was free to experiment with many styles of music.

Anugama’s strong interest in spirituality and vibration led him to visit and reside in the East for many years. When Anugama returned, he was able to integrate the spiritual resonance that he discovered there with his music. Therefore, you will find that in Anugama’s musical compositions of Tantra, Shamanic Dream and Shamanic Dream 2, he has transmitted a subtlety of style and frequency of vibration that is hypnotic and compelling.

I would say that Anugama was a true genius, unfettered by traditional modes of musical style, willing to open his talent to whatever forms his music takes him. A true joy and experience to hear Anugama!

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July 23, 2014 on 11:10 am

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Dear Spiritual Explorer: I have just opened my new yoga studio and am looking for ways in which to adorn the walls. Any suggestions? Rose P., Seattle, WA


Chakra Ladder Tapestry Banner

Dear Rose: Congratulations on your new yoga studio. Anyone who begins a yoga studio wishes to share her knowledge and love of yoga. I have also found yoga practitioners to be very knowledgeable about many esoteric subjects such as chakras. And for that reason I am recommending our new Chakra Ladder Tapestry Banner, an 11.25 x 63.25 wall hanging which includes a wooden dowling rod.

Many people new to yoga practice are not aware that aside from the physical improvements to be felt when doing their yoga session, that they are also working on a more subtle level when dealing with the chakras.

For those not in the know, the chakras are wheels of light attached to the spine that revolve in a clockwise fashion. As these circles of light emit energy, they are responsible for a myriad of functions in our bodies, to-wit: base chakra, kidneys; second chakra, sexual organs; third chakra, solar plexus; fourth chakra, heart; fifth chakra, throat and thyroid gland, sixth chakra, third eye and pineal gland, and seventh chakra, pituitary gland. Healthy chakras spin in an energetic form. Less healthy chakras don’t emit as much energy and in some cases, are considered closed.

Now, I understand that for most people, they do not actually see the chakras, but for my friends who are massage therapists, they tell me they can feel the energy being emitted from the various parts of the body. I am inclined to believe them, they having been involved with bodywork and energy for many years.

I love that the chakras have various colors attached to them; they feel so appropriate: first chakra, red; second chakra, orange, third chakra, yellow; fourth chakra, green; fifth chakra; indigo blue; seventh chakra, either purple or light.

I have been asked if chakra cleansings are beneficial. While I do not claim to have the “sight” to see any of them, when an experienced therapist works on my chakras, I feel lighter and freer afterwards. So, as with everything else, give it a try; you might feel better in the process.

I appreciate this Chakra Ladder Tapestry Banner; it is very attractive and compelling to view, and will add a wonderful dimension to your studio. Good luck in your new venture!

If you have a question you would like to ask, send me your question. Ask The Spiritual Explorer

July 18, 2014 on 11:00 am

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Dear Spiritual Explorer: My niece is always telling me to buy a t-shirt for her teenage son since it is something we can be sure that he likes. Do you have any ideas of a “hip” t-shirt that a 16 year old might “dig?” Lera P., New York, NY


108 Ganeshes T-shirt

Dear Lera: Last week I was in New York myself and was at first reluctant to give my nephew a t-shirt with a picture of Buddha that I had bought. I decided to buy him a gift certificate from Ma’s India instead. Well, guess what? He saw the Buddha shirt, expressed interest and to my pleasure, wore it immediately, telling me his friends would think it was cool. Was I surprised! So today I am going to recommend for your young relative the 108 Ganeshes Unisex T-Shirt.

This 108 Ganeshes Unisex T-Shirt is perfect for men or women. If you have a niece,be sure and get one for her too. What is so unique about this Ganesh t-shirt is that it has 108 drawings of the Hindu deity, Lord Ganesh, each one drawn separately and uniquely. How amazing is that!

One hundred eight is a special number in Hinduism; most mantras are recited in 101 blocks of repetitions at a time. For instance, you can say Om Namah Ganesh (most fitting for this shirt) 108 times each morning and evening. The 108 recital of Om Sri Ganesh is especially auspicious and is said to bring good fortune. Malas, which are Hindu beads that one finds sadhus and sannyasins practicing on and just us regular folks too, have 108 beads with the Guru bead at its end. When one approaches the Guru bead as one counts the beads, it is appropriate to then swing back in the opposite way to continue a recitation of mantra.

My niece also mentioned that her son was having trouble in school and they were always looking for some totem or good luck piece to help him since he seemed particularly receptive to these items. When I told them how Ganesh was an inspiration to scholars and also helped remove obstacles they became very excited. I also told them to recite Om Sri Ganesh three times before undertaking a road trip or any other venture.

I think that what became a gift by me expanded into a larger significance for his family. They called me the other day to tell me that they as a family now invoke Ganesh before the start of their day. That was inspiring!

Om Sri Ganesh, Om Sri Ganesh, Om Sri Ganesh, Ki Jai!

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July 16, 2014 on 11:00 am

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Dear Spiritual Explorer: What is masala incense? Rose H., Palermo,ITALY


Patchouli Incense

Dear Rose: Masala is a spice mixture. Masala incenses are made by blending several solid scented ingredients into a paste and then rolling that paste onto a bamboo core stick. Rare Essence’s Patchouli Supreme Incense is complex masala incense with an authentic patchouli fragrance.

Now for those of us in the hippie or 60’s generation, we remember all those times that we wore patchouli fragrance. Applying an essential oil such as patchouli as opposed to a cologne or perfume was seen as a statement of being different and returning to nature. Patchouli was one of the first fragrances to have departed from what we considered popular in that time, such as wearing Chanel or for men, Old Spice. Because of patchouli’s strong earthy fragrance, one, which I have to admit, lasted a long time after application, it was rumored that it was used to cover up the smell of marijuana.

Not that I would know anything about a cover up, but I did know that patchouli has a strong sweet fragrance that is considered grounding and balancing.

Did you know that incense was also used as an approach to healing in early Hinduism, particularly with Ayurvedic medicine? Incense originally was made only by monks and it was considered a very spiritual profession.

As Hinduism matured and Buddhism was founded in India, incense became an integral part of Buddhism as well. Around 200 AD, a group of wandering Buddhist monks introduced incense making to China.

For most Indians, incense remains an important part of the daily puja ritual, which is a religious offering performed by all Hindus to their deities, especially during the beginning of a new venture, or to commemorate some special occasion. The aspect of the ritual known as dhupa involves the offering of incense before the picture of a deity, as a token of respect. The smoke from the incense is believed to ward off demons and cleanse the air around.

Because of my remembrance of the significance of patchouli, when lighting it, I am reminded both of the spiritual significance of incense and those days in the 60’s when I was part of the counter-culture. While it might have been thought to be a trend reflecting a bygone era, patchouli continues to be popular even now. A wonderful and nostalgic remembrance for sure!

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July 11, 2014 on 11:00 am

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Dear Spiritual Explorer: I am a Christian, but have wanted to try meditation. Can you recommend appropriate incense for me? Mary P., Pittsburgh, PA


Auroshika Frankincense

Dear Mary: I can’t think of a more appropriate and fitting incense than Auroshika Frankincense Indian Incense, the title of which combines the Christian with the Indian influence. You are of course familiar with the biblical account of the birth of Jesus where three wise men presented Mary with the gifts of frankincense, myrrh and gold. Burned in a “censer” by the Catholic Church, together with other resins, frankincense has always been a favorite incense.

However, you don’t have to be Catholic to like frankincense. Frankincense has long been used for prayer and meditation in many traditions. Frankincense has also been used since antiquity for its medicinal, energetic, cosmetic and perfumery applications. Frankincense has also been used in clinical aromatherapy for a wide range of symptoms, including skin diseases, respiratory and urinary tract infections, rheumatism and even syphilis. Did you also know that frankincense is used today in high-end cosmetic products due to its effectiveness for reducing fine lines and wrinkles?

Massage therapists have long used frankincense oil, particularly in doing reflexology. A friend of mine who has been treated for an illness often spoke to me of her frankincense treatments and claimed that frankincense not only felt healing but spiritually soothing in her time of crisis. De-stressing in illness is one of the major components to being healed.

I particularly like frankincense oil through aromatherapy since I know that the circulatory system is the body’s main system of transport.There is continual research into the specific pathways and effectiveness of essential oils that are generally absorbed into the circulatory system via absorption through the skin or mucous membranes. Once the oil molecules have entered the bloodstream they travel throughout the body and affect the particular organ.

I myself have used two or three drops of frankincense to a bowl of steaming hot water, breathing in the steam of a few minutes with a towel draped over my head. If you are to use frankincense oil in your massage, use 15 to 20 drops of the oil in one ounce of massage oil base.

All of this ancillary information aside, I have to say that frankincense incense is one of my true favorites when meditating. It certainly will transport you back to your Christian roots thinking of the significance of the Magi journey  and their gifts to the baby Jesus.

Good luck in your meditations; you will love frankincense.

If you have a question you would like to ask, send me your question. Ask The Spiritual Explorer

July 9, 2014 on 11:00 am

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Walking into Ma’s India, a spiritual gift store located in the center of Kashi Ashram, I am first struck by Ma’s India preponderance of books, candles, home décor, clothing, incense, statues, music, and jewelry which are but a few of the items at Ma’s India available to people visiting Kashi Ashram for the first time. I have to say that Ma’s India feels like a spiritual oasis.


Ma’s India Spiritual Giftstore

In the midst of a small, previously sleepy town in central Florida, there is a beacon of spiritual light in the name of Kashi Ashram. A visitor to Kashi Ashram has the opportunity every Saturday to take a free yoga class, enjoy an exceptional vegetarian and organic meal and then attend what is known as darshan led by one of Ma Jaya’s chelas. At that darshan which means “meeting with the saint,” there is the opportunity to bask in the essence and silence that pervades Kashi Ashram even after the passing of their guru Ma Jaya two years previously. After darshan, there is shopping at Ma’s India together with enjoying a wonderful treat known as prasad, which has been freshly baked by one of the chefs at Kashi.

More than the spiritual items available at Ma’s India, Swami Krishnabai, one of the people who work there, might greet you. She wants to make sure that you choose the right gift for others or yourself. Residing at Kashi Ashram for over 40 years, her kindness and gentleness is very much appreciated by those of us looking in Ma’s India for the right spiritual gift.

As you walk into Ma’s India you can be sure to hear one of the many spiritual CD’s from Snatam Kaur and Deva Premal to Stephen Halpern and Deepak Chopra. Ma’s India has at its helm a music aficionado named Nirmal who can assist you in finding the right chant or kirtan for your very own meditation.

What stands out at Ma’s India is the abundance of statues from various religious paths, which come in a variety of sizes, styles and materials. For example, as I look at the many Hanuman statues at Ma’s India, I see many representations of Hanuman in standing or kneeling postures in metal, resin, faux ivory or brass. A 9-inch statue of the goddess Lakshmi is the next statue at Ma’s India to garner my interest. Constructed from Ganga clay, she is so colorful and alive. These statues, alongside Shiva, Buddha, Christ, Durga and Ganesh scattered throughout the store, abound at Ma’s India in every size, material and shape.

From tarot cards to bells and cards to exquisite jewelry and incense, you will find an appropriate gift for yourself or your dearest at Ma’s India. See you there!

If you have a question you would like to ask, send me your question. Ask The Spiritual Explorer

July 4, 2014 on 11:00 am

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Dear Spiritual Explorer: Can you tell me the difference between regular astrology and Jyotish astrology? Rhana P., Pittsburgh, PA


Vedic Astrology Deck

Dear Rhana: I refer you to the Vedic Astrology Deck, which we are now carrying at Ma’s India. Somehow they have managed to encapsulate a 7,000-year-old science into a 44 card set and accompanying booklet. You will find out the basics of the Vedic Astrology Deck and how your physiology relates to your personality.

Vedic Astrology is also known as Jyotish astrology or the science of “light.” Jyotish astrology’s purpose is to cast light upon your life while viewing the particular cosmic patterns that also influence you. You will also learn to not only cast your horoscope, but that of others. This is a great learning tool for sure and done in a very understandable, not complex form.

The Jyotish system of astrology refers to Indian or Hindu astrology, a system that originated in ancient India and was documented by sages in the Vedic scriptures.

Basic astrology is the science of the effects of planetary movements on our lives. Astrologers need to know the correct positions of the planets at any given time, as well as the correct positions of the zodiacal fixed star signs in relation to any place on earth at any given time. Once the correct positions of the signs and planets are known, astrologers can construct charts representing these positions. The astrologer can then study the charts and can make a wide range of conclusions about the moment the chart was cast for.

The primary distinction between Jyotish astrology and regular astrology is that the former is used to not only understand one’s self, but our karma in this life. The Jyotish astrologer will tell you that karma or fortune is determined by a predestined cosmic design. You are a soul incarnating in a body at a very specific time and place, and your life is a reflection of the greater whole in which you were born.

On the basis of what a Jyotish astrologer sees, having consulted with your chart and the position of the planets, he is able uncannily to do a predictive timeline. Jyotish astrologers have a tool for accurately predicting trends, changes and events in your life with amazing precision.

Because of this ability, Jyotish astrologers are less likely in a consultation to tall about your general overall personality self and delve more deeply into your karmic patterns and how they influence your life in the present. Jyotish astrologers usually do longer consultations and in my experience are more expensive. However, I have always heard Jyotish astrology readings are very comprehensive and rewarding.

If you have a question you would like to ask, send me your question. Ask The Spiritual Explorer

July 2, 2014 on 11:00 am

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Dear Spiritual Explorer: I have always wanted to do some yoga but am physically handicapped. Can you give me some suggestions about this? Mary M., Sebastian, FL, FL


Sacred Sound

Dear Mary: I have always found it fascinating that people think there is only one type of yoga and that it must be physical yoga and especially has to be one of the many physically based yogas that are now proliferating in our country. Sacred Sound by Alanna Kaivalya dispels that notion quickly.

Alanna Kaivalya in short shrift tells us how the practice of mantra and kirtan are quick and efficient ways to practice yoga, for sacred sound is a very essential element of yoga.

When one chants and sings the sacred sounds wonderfully expressed through the 21 mantras and kirtan presented in her book, you quickly realize that chanting can be done anywhere and anytime. It is in the sincerity of the expression that calls forth the special essence contained in these mantras and kirtan. Wonderfully noted is that you can chant mantra and kirtan in the shower, before you get out of bed,or on the way to work. I feel it necessary to remind you that in case you’re on a bus or train, we hope it will be silently.

I appreciate how Alanna dissects the meanings of both kirtan and mantra. The syllable of “man” means mind and “tra” signifies traversing or cutting through the obstacles of the mind. Kirtan means literally cutting away the mind stuff that allows us to engage with and connect with our deepest selves.

In yoga practice, mantra and kirtan are not really understood in the western tradition. While we don’t hesitate to consult counselors or psychologists, we sometimes don’t realize that reciting mantra and signing kirtan addresses the root of our psychological problems. Not that it isn’t great to have somebody to speak with and clarify situations, but there is a deeper reality that one touches when singing kirtan and mantra. It traverses the ego mind and reaches deep down into perhaps the root of our separation. And it is said that the root of all of our problems can be traced to separation from our selves and divinity.

I hope you will enjoy your foray into mantra and kirtan. There are many ways to reach our divinity and as they say, surely if there is a God, he/she would not be reluctant to make available to us many ways to achieve divine connection.

Thanks for writing, Spiritual Explorer

If you have a question you would like to ask, send me your question. Ask The Spiritual Explorer

June 27, 2014 on 11:00 am

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Dear Spiritual Explorer: I have just bought Krishna Das’ Kirtan Wallah that is unbelievably wonderful. Can you tell me what the term “wallah” means? Joe P., Minneapolis, MN


Krishna Das Kirtan Wallah

Dear Joe: The term wallah simply means somebody who performs and identifies with a particular service. In this case, it is Krishna Das who is the kirtan wallah, someone who simply sings and chants to his Beloved. For Krishna Das, his chanting is an act of service, not seeking fame or grandiosity. Kirtan Wallah is Krishna Das’ 14th album, and he continues to chant or sing his devotion to God and particularly his guru, Neem Karoli Baba.

For those of us familiar with Krishna Das’ journey, we remember him coming to the feet of his guru Neem Karoli Baba in his early 20’s. What I remember most about Krishna Das’ story is that notwithstanding being a stranger in a strange land or in a culture so unlike what he was born into, he persevered through some difficult challenges to be at the feet of his guru no matter how difficult the circumstances or where Neem Karoli Baba traveled to or remained. His guru Neem Karoli Baba encouraged Krishna Das to sing and thus was the beginning of a remarkable journey as a heartfelt musician told by Krishna Das in a very honest and humble way.

Kirtan Wallah is a nice, never awkward, blend of western sounds that embraces Krishna Das’ own roots in rock and country with deeply devotional Indian chants. Even the instruments that Krishna Das utilizes bespeak a confluence of acoustic guitars and country melodies with tabla and bansuri flute, a mixture of east and west.

While Krishna Das might not be considered primarily a spiritual teacher, in his music it becomes evident that his desire is to reach out with many influences that might touch an old hippy or a sophisticated, cultured listener as well.  Sri Argala Stotram/Show Me Love in the second track of Kirtan Wallah has been called a marriage of opposites, a prayer to the Goddess Durga and Foreigner’s mid-80’s ballad, “I Want To Know What Love Is.

While kirtan is not a familiar medium for most westerners, it becomes evident that it is Krishna Das’ desire to reach out to many beyond particular religious constraints in order to touch the heart of devotion, which brings us all together.

The other day I heard Krishna Das on You Tube, speaking on what it means to be human. As examples, Krishna Das mentions certain spiritual masters such as his own guru, the Dalai Lama and other beings that Krishna Das was privileged to meet in his lifetime. Krishna Das speaks of there being something that they all share that is not quite alive in the rest of us to the same degree. He considers that it might be a combination of lack of fear, lack of selfish desires and a very open and available heart.

It is obvious that what we admire, we desire to become. With his devotional albums, we see that Krishna Das endeavors to live a life of devotion and service just as his Guru Neem Karoli Baba did.

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