One of the most ancient and powerful means of uplifting one’s mood and increasing the feeling of personal peace is through the healing sounds of ancient mantras. One does not need to be an expert singer to benefit, rather simply a listener with an open heart.
Recently I had the great pleasure to attend a small concert with the mantra singer Dechen Shak. She is the daughter of a Tibetan lama and uses her father’s words to create unique songs reflecting the deep Buddhist tradition of aspiring to inner contentment. Her timeless mantras not only carry a special resonance that calms the spirit with their melodious sounds but also the words contain positive affirmations which help reset the mind in an uplifting manner.
“The whole world has faced unprecedented challenges over the last two years, and we are still trying to find solutions for how to handle them. From a worldly point of view, these problems are simply devastating and are creating immense suffering for everyone. But from a Buddhist view, such challenges are exactly what we call “precious moments” for our minds to awaken and to encourage a total reset in our interior world and inner being,” Dechen explained.
Music as Medicine
Her latest record of original compositions ‘emaho – the Story of Arya Tara’ is dedicated to the goddess Tara and while the intent is to provide healing music, the words also provide a message of female empowerment. Dechen tells the story of an Indian princess who was a dedicated follower of Buddhism. The monks she studied with told her she should pray to come back as a man so she could achieve enlightenment. She corrected them, explaining that finding Buddha nature was not a matter of gender or background. She went on to finally achieve the wisdom of the Buddha and become a highly revered goddess.
“Tara’s story reminds us every day that we are all equally beautiful beings blessed with great inner qualities, such as love, compassion, kindness, and clarity. These qualities are just waiting to be rediscovered and nurtured,” Dechen said.
“emaho – an Amazing One” – Tara’s enriching activities. Audio courtesy of VANDYKMUSIC
Dechen has been singing mantras for over twenty years, playing around the world and was invited twice by Philip Glass to perform with her JEWEL Ensemble at Carnegie Hall in New York, sharing the stage with great artists such as the late Lou Reed and his partner Laurie Andersen, Iggy Pop and many more.
She has released eleven albums, including a platinum record and received a ‘Best Spiritual Album’ award. She also recorded three records with Tina Turner, a fellow Buddhist. Her latest record mixes the traditional sounds of Tibet with a more modern style on some of the song to make the ancient truths more accessible. The title emaho refers to that moment of inner joy where a person experiences complete satisfaction. This is not a concept to think about rather an experience anyone can have.
Listening to the music is a transformative experience, showing how the power of music and in particular mantras have an uplifting effect.
“The new album arose from the need to make a contribution to calmness and self-discovery in the current difficult and unpredictable time, which means for many people uncertainty, fear and disorientation,” Dechen commented.
A lot of yoga schools use this music to enhance their classes but having it played as background music at home has a similar effect. Never underestimate the power of healing music to transform your life!
Peace of Mind video https://youtu.be/SM-Zh7Xvow8
An Expression of Joy
The ancient Tibetan expression ‘emaho’ means ‘what an amazing, wondrous moment when the mind awakens!’ and is an expression of joy, amazement and happiness. Dechen would like to bring her listeners closer to the healing power of the ancient Tibetan mantras and wisdom by making them more accessible. Buddhist wisdom calls on people to improve themselves instead of looking for mistakes in others, and thus to find peace with ourselves and the world around us. In particular, the various aspects and powers of the protective goddess Tara, expressed in the album’s mantras, can help to achieve moments of joy – emaho.
“We hope to be able to bring calm and peace into people’s hearts. We will not be able to get rid of COVID-19, or the economic, social, and political fallout it has caused, but the music that carries the blessings of Arya Tara, the Swift Liberator, will help us all to overcome our fears, sadness, frustration, and pain to create some space in our hearts and to rebalance our minds. It is within this calm space that we will be able to tap into our innate beauty and strength. We all need this to transform our pain and negative thoughts, and to calmly face and embrace the difficult times ahead of us; to fully become aware of our own inner qualities,” Dechen said.
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