(OM and Salutations to the Great Goddess Lakshmi, personification of the Energy of Sustenance/the Sustaining Energy!)

Part of me hesitates to write this article because I don’t want to cheapen in any way this or any mantra that I highly respect and firmly believe can lead one to Self­/God­Realization, but I feel that these mantras are, on one level, a powerful medicine that people should know about. They are not only worldly medicine, as I write about below, but potentially the MOST powerful medicine which could lead the one who takes it to Realization of Immortality and to going beyond Death… not meaning any disrespect to the power and gifts of Death.

Ten years ago I was inspired invite everyone on my email list to join me in an experiment. We would meet together every 4 weeks for a year to chant one mala (108 repetitions) of OM Gam Ganapataye Namaha and 10 malas of OM Shreem Maha Lakshmiye Namaha, and we would do them partly out loud and partly silently..

These are traditional Sanskrit mantras that are used toward Liberation as well as for specific, worldly purposes. The first mantra is to Ganesh, seen as the remover of obstacles to our practice and in our lives. The second mantra, the one that would get most of our focus and time, is to Lakshmi and is for abundance and prosperity on all levels. If you go into any Indian restaurant or shop or hotel, you will very likely see an image or small altar to Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of Prosperity, envisioned seated in lotus posture and gold coins pouring abundantly from her open hands.

My main inspiration for beginning that practice was that I had recently taken a week­long mantra chanting course at Kripalu with Namadev Thomas Ashley­ Farrand, who at the time had been practicing mantra repetition for over 8 hours a day for something like 25 years. It was an amazingly powerful, uplifting and transformative week, and Namadev was/is a powerhouse of spiritual energy with a wealth of experience… and a great story­teller! I had been doing mantra repetition already as a daily practice for over 7 years, but I was curious to see what would happen… if anything would happen as a result of doing so many mantras in a group, and I trusted that whatever did happen would only be positive. I knew that group chanting is many times more powerful than when done alone, usually said to be times the SQUARE of the number of peoplewho are chanting.

I was also very clear that if we were going to do this practice that would potentially lead us to greater abundance, that it should be for the benefit not just of ourselves, but that we should be doing it for the benefit of ALL beings. I set a small donation that we each would give that I then used to buy bulk food from our buying club that I/we bagged and donated to the IFC Community Pantry. Everyone who joined in was on board with that vision, though we each clarified our own personal intentions which we set at the first meeting and then renewed at the beginning of each meeting.

We ended up having 13 people committing to being there for at least 12 of the 13 meetings. At the start of each meeting, we shared what our experiences were during the past month that we attributed to the mantra practice or that had anything to do with abundance or wealth. All of us experienced some major shift that year, though not always what we might have expected. Some people including me experienced more income than ever before. A couple of people realized the abundance (excess) that they already had in their lives and made strides toward giving away more of it. At least one person got married; Nikki and I got pregnant with our second child; I started my yoga teacher training are a few examples of the shifts. I think we all were very grateful for our time spent in the practice.

Last year, one of the original 13 people was sharing with me how great that practice had been and suggested the idea of doing it again. Other things also happened around that time that I took as “signs” that it was time to begin this practice again. My life being much more busy than it was in 2004, I suggested instead that we meet weekly for 12 weeks and do 4 malas of the Lakshmi mantra. Then we would reevaluate and possibly continue.

Though this group was not as cohesive and regular as the group in 2004, several people experienced IMMEDIATE shifts and increased abundance, and many of us experienced important and significant life changes during or since that time. For example, one person, who was homeless at the time, received a grant to go back to college and to pay for living expenses including a home. One person got a job and a new, much better living situation. Two people went to massage school. One person realized a long­ time dream of having a house at the beach. I unexpectedly found and moved Loving Kindness Yoga School to its bigger, better location.

Those of us who were there weekly found it to be so helpful that we kept going after the initial commitment was over, and we continue to meet weekly on Tuesday evenings starting about 9:00, after my 7:30 class. This chanting/meditation continues to be open to all, and typically about 4 or 5 people are there. There is no charge for this group, but I do invite that you leave $1­3 next to the donation bowl, and I still use those donations to buy food for the IFC Pantry. Last year this group donated almost 200 pounds of food to the IFC Pantry.

These meditations tend to be very focused and energizing in addition to prosperity­enhancing, as mentioned above. Sometimes life gives us challenges of not feeling the quality of “enough” or materially not having enough, and Lakshmi chanting can lead to some material gain. Sometimes we have plenty and Lakshmi chanting can lead to greater spiritual realization and to increased ability to share with others the gifts that we already have.

Either way, in my personal experience and from what I’ve seen with others, chanting Lakshmi mantras helps the energy to FLOW in ways that are life­ enhancing for oneself and for all those we touch. And it’s so simple you can begin it right now!