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Have an anxious or traumatized pet? One way to make her feel safe and soothe her nerves is by chanting mantras to her, says internationally known music therapist and longtime dog owner Louise Montello, the author of Essential Musical Intelligence.
For ten years, Montello has used mantra CDs to keep her dogs calm during long commutes between her weekend cottage in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania, and her home in Manhattan, where she works as the founder and associate professor of the Creative Arts Therapy Certificate Program at the New School. “I think pets can get car sick and anxious during commutes,” she says. “My dog Tanner used to jump around the car, like he was jumping out of his skin.” Then one day, she put on a mantra CD that her friend had recorded. “The chanting calmed him down so that he could stay in the backseat and chill,” she says. Soon, listening to and chanting mantras became a core component of her commutes with her pets.
Montello has also chanted to her pups through frightening sirens, thunderstorms, and epileptic seizures. And two years ago, when Tanner was dying of liver cancer, she sang a Sanskrit fear mantra to him that she’d learned on a pilgrimage to India.
“I sang the mantra to take away some of his fear. And it gave me the strength to be with him all night,” she said. “I sat at home next to him, chanting and playing instruments to comfort him. I think the mantras create a zone of comfort, safety, love, and grace. Your pets absorb that soothing vibration and energy, either through the sound of your voice or the sound of a mantra CD. The effects can be profound.”At times, Tanner howled along with her.
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What Exactly Is a Mantra?
According to the late yoga scholar Georg Feuerstein, a mantra is “a sacred sound or phrase, such as om, hum, or om namah shivaya, that has a transformative effect on the mind of the individual reciting it.” Bestselling mantra singers Deva Premal & Miten describe mantras as “sacred sound healing formulas that connect us all.” For more than 20 years, they’ve traveled around the world, bringing the healing power of mantras to people of all walks of life—who are then, sometimes, inspired to bring those healing formulas home to their pets.
“We experience profound healing every time we sing,” says Miten, a UK singer-songwriter who toured with Lou Reed and Fleetwood Mac before dedicating his life to sacred music. “We think that animals can heal through chanting, too.
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The Calming Benefits of Chanting for Animals
“Over the years, we have received messages from so many people, sharing how the mantras impact their animals,” Miten says. For example, one woman told them she chanted Deva Premal’s rendition of Om Shantih Om to calm down a barn full of horses during a storm. Another woman was stunned when a young song sparrow she’d rescued from her cat’s claws began singing along to the duo’s rendition of the Gayatri Mantra, which was playing on her car stereo as she was driving the bird to a wildlife rescue shelter.
For the last year, Fred and Dolores Stawitz, who live in Houston and confess they have “way too many pets,” have been using mantra music as a core component of their therapeutic sessions with traumatized and anxious rescue dogs. The Pashupati Mantra, a mantra for animals is featured on Deva Premal & Miten’s 21-Day Mantra Meditation Journey online and on their latest album, Mantras for Life, which features mantras for other specific daily intentions, such as finding lost things (including pets). The Stawitzes play this mantra music to help their menagerie of dogs, including a Pitbull, a Papillon, a Dalmation, and a Maltese, wind down at bedtime. Before they started using music, Fred says, a few dogs would start barking right as the others would fall asleep. Then a few more would join the cacophony, and within a few minutes all of the dogs were wound up again. “All we need to do is turn the mantras on at night and they’re asleep within two minutes,” Dolores says. “They’ve become accustomed to it.”
Her advice for pet parents who’d like to comfort and calm down their animals? “Show your pets your love by chanting to them. Not only will you find peace within yourself by chanting the mantras, but you’ll help your pets find the peace that they’re longing for and need.”
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