My Friend has Cancer part 3 What to Do?

As you may have heard our friend, colleague, teacher and one of the co-founders of Yoga on High, Martha Marcom, was diagnosed with cancer over the last two weeks. She has a site at in case you want to stay in touch with how she is doing and see the opportunities for help. Please at this time do not call them or send emails (in order to keep their inbox manageable with planning and medical info). If you would like to send a card please send it to Yoga on High at 1081 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201 and we will be sure she gets it. And of course send prayers, reiki, blessings and any dedications you like. She is already feeling the river of support and is floating along in it.

If you read part 1 of this blog series you may have noticed that I mentioned a chant that has been living with me since I heard the news about my friend. I wanted a chant that had a sense of power to it—not sweet and gentle but strong and vital—just like the blessing I want for my friend. So I went looking for that chant. As I perused my collection of kirtan music I knew this was it when I got to it: Gaja Nana by Dave Stringer. He played it when he was here recently and it had just the qualities I was looking for, plus the musicians remind me of a wild and free gypsy band. And it was just complicated enough that I had to work a bit to learn it. That felt good somehow—that as my friend is learning how to reuse her body after a big surgery, I could at least learn a few new Sanskrit words. I have been chanting that chant during my daily walks ever since and I feel uplifted, strong and cheerful each time. At other times of the day and night the chant “drops in” and I let it repeat a few times and then go back to whatever else I was doing.

One day as I was walking up and down my driveway chanting the words to this chant, it occurred to me that our friend Rhonda would love it, so I told her about it. And then my friend’s sister-in-law, who is a full sister in the heart and also a yogi, wanted SO much to do something to help and I had nothing much to suggest. But wait—why not chant along with me and we can dedicate the benefits? And now it is growing from there. I did this chant at the end of one of my classes this week and people seemed really grateful to have something to do in honor of our dear friend.

So I invite you to chant along with us and dedicate the benefits to our friend. The great thing about dedicating an offering like this is that you also get the benefits. I hope that you will feel enlivened and powerful after a few minutes of doing this chant. Then from this place of your own strength you can offer to our friend. For me this is so much more satisfying than offering my worry.

This chant is available on two of Dave Stringer’s albums—Mala and Ojas-EP. I recommend the version from Ojas—it has a livelier feel to it. You can get them from iTunes. There are also some YouTube videos around with a few minutes of him singing this chant but the download from iTunes is much better.

And since I couldn’t quite get the words without seeing them I am printing them here for you.

Gaja Nana Hé Gaja Nana Gauri Manohara Priya Nandana
Pashupati Taneya Gaja Nana
Parama Niranjana Gaja Nana Hé

And if you are wondering what this chant means here is the last bit of this story. Two days after I found that chant but before I found the words and the meaning, I visited my friend. I gave her a little gift I had gotten her at the Cleveland Museum of Art the day before when a group of us visited the “Yoga, the Art of Transformation” exhibit. In the gift area there were finger puppets of Hindu deities and I had gotten her the Ganesh one. Ganesh in Hindu lore is the God who helps to overcome obstacles—that seemed like a no brainer. When I gave it to her she showed me a tiny Ganesh statue that another friend had given her and she said, “I guess Ganesh is going to be with me on this journey.”   Later that day I found the lyrics on Dave Stringers website with this final line explaining the meaning; A prayer to Ganesha, who purifies and removes the obstacles of the mind.

One Response to My Friend has Cancer part 3 What to Do?
  1. Mariah Edgington

    That’s powerful.