Saturday, February 25, 2012

Singing Mantras to Kids When Sick: Medicine Buddha Mantra

The Medicine Buddha (image credit)
Last week, my son woke up in the middle of the night in a state of panic because he was wheezing, chest tight, having difficulties breathing.

As any yogi knows, the breath is so intimately connected with ones state of mind. When the mind is erratic and stressed, so is the breath. The sooner one can calm their mind, the sooner their breath will slow and deepen.

This is exactly what my son needed to do - take deep slow breaths. But he couldn't. He was too stressed, and locked in "fight or flight mode" with his heart racing, endorphin pumping through his blood, less and less oxygen coming in. ACK!

So I worked my mom magic to get him calmed down, and together we laid in bed while I sang to him. He loves me singing to him before he goes to sleep. Even to the point of wanting to leave a special night out early so I will still sing to him {melt}.

Tonight I decided to sing some mantras to him while he tried to stay calm and breath despite the obvious discomfort and noise. I find mantras easy to sing over and over again, and I don't get as bored with them as our regular lullabies. As I wrote about previously, I sung many Gayatri Mantras. He connected to this as he has been trying to get the second and third verses so I think it helped to calm his "rational" brain.

Then I sung some of my favorite mantra - the Medicine Buddha mantra. I used to practice the full sutra at my temple in Toronto, under the guidance of Rinpoche. He gave regular Medicine Buddha empowerments to help strengthen the power of the mantra for those who wished to practice it.

The practice of Medicine Buddha, the Supreme Healer (or Sangay Menla in Tibetan) is not only a very powerful method for healing and increasing healing powers both for oneself and others, but also for overcoming the inner sickness of attachment, hatred, and ignorance, thus to meditate on the Medicine Buddha can help decrease physical and mental illness and suffering.  (Source)

When I sing it now I am transported back to my beloved Riwoche Tibetan Buddhist temple, with its beautiful golden statues shining in front of me, and the pure light of Rinpoche beside me.  Above me, when I chant I visualize the Medicine Buddha himself - lapis lazuli in color, right hand in the mudra of supreme generosity holds an arura. His left hand in meditation mudra holds a begging bowl.

His sits on a lotus flower in the Buddha Field and his light rains down onto me. The light from his body combines with the healing nectar from his bowl pours down onto me like honey hitting my head. As I continue to chant his mantra - Tadyata Om Bekandze Bekandze Maha Bekandze Radza Samung-gate Soha - I turn into the Medicine Buddha himself. My voice purifies the air and all who are around me.

The Medicine Buddha (image source)

I stop and my son keeps requesting that I keep singing. I ask what he wants to hear and its the mantras. You sure, no twinkle twinkle little star, or rock a bye baby,  I say. But all's I get is a clear definite no, so I keep going. For hours in fact, listening to his labored breath us both half asleep, I lay there with him singing mantras and sending healing love hoping he falls into a peaceful sleep. Eventually we do, and he wakes up better, but still with a chest cold sounding like croup. But his breathing is definitely better, and I am so thankful.


Here is a recording of two Khenpo Rinpoches singing the Medicine Buddha chant. It is a different melody than I learned. The melodies differ according to your linage and teacher.

Here is a clip of me singing the Medicine Buddha mantra how I learned it, according the my teacher, Ven. Khenpo Sonam Rinpoche. (Just a sleepy audio clip from the wee hours in the morn)


"By visualizing yourself as the Medicine Buddha you are not pretending to be something that you are not, and that by visualizing the Medicine Buddha and his retinue in front of you, you are not pretending that they are in a place where they are not. By definition, buddhas are omniscient. Whenever someone thinks of them, brings them to mind, or supplicates them, they are aware of it and respond with their compassion and blessing...

In the final analysis, the situation is identical to their actually being present anywhere they are thought of. Therefore, it is always appropriate to regard a buddha that is present in one’s mind as actually being present in front of one. When you think that the Medicine Buddha, together with his retinue, is present in front of you, it is really true that they are."  Ven. Thrangu Rinpoche, Teachings on the Medicine Buddha Sadhana and Medicine Buddha Sutra.


  1. That was beautiful. Can you help with the pronounciation of the mantra you just sang?
    Thank you.

  2. Sure! Here it is more phonetically and american sounding for you:

    Tay-ya-tah om bey-kon-say bey-kon-say maha bey-kon-say ra-dza sa-mung-ga-te So-ha!

    PS I just realized in my post above I forgot the last part of the chant. I have now edited above.

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