Ra Ma Da Sa: A Music Piece For Healing & Togetherness

“With all of the turbulence in the world and in our minds, we need ways to release our emotions and feel our hearts.” For this reason, Insight Timer teachers Carrie Grossman and Andy Hobson went on a collaborative journey together that not only brought a healing meditation music track to life, but also a beautiful friendship.
Carrie Grossman is a devotional singer and composer from the US. Andy Hobson is a mindfulness teacher and counsellor from the UK.
ra ma da sa
Carrie Grossman is a devotional singer and composer from the US. Andy Hobson is a mindfulness teacher and counsellor from the UK.

Carrie Grossman and Andy Hobson’s new release, Ra Ma Da Sa, arrived on Insight Timer today. You can listen here. In this interview, they share the journey and story behind this beautiful song and collaboration.

  1. Ra Ma Da Sa Carrie Grossman and Andy Hobson 11:39

Insight Timer: You have crossed paths through the Insight Timer app. What encouraged you to think of a collaboration?

Andy: I saw Carrie’s course on chanting and mantras on the app and was intrigued to give it a try. It was a fairly new world to me and one I was perhaps a little cynical about. After the first session I was hooked and by the third session my heart was wide open. I thought it was quite ridiculous that an audio course could have such an impact, but it opened up many new and old doors for me. The course also inspired me to make my own music more central to my teaching.

Carrie’s beautiful voice, depth of teaching, and authenticity touched me so much that I decided to send her an email to say thank you. But I actually ended up proposing that we try a musical collaboration. I didn’t think she’d be too interested, as our music is quite different, but to my surprise and delight she was.

Carrie: In September of 2019, I received a beautiful email from Andy about my course. We had never corresponded before and I was so touched that he reached out to me. In his message, he asked if I’d be open to collaborating on a track, which surprised me at first because I was only familiar with his meditations and I didn’t know he was a musician. But I loved his offerings on the app—as well as his sincerity, warmth, and heart—and I had a good feeling about it. So, without thinking too much, I said yes, and we embarked on a journey that neither of us could have imagined.

What were the first steps of this collaboration?

Carrie: To start, I sent Andy some of my vocals to play with, and the mantra I felt inspired to share was Ra Ma Da Sa. This is a mantra for healing that I’ve always loved from the Kundalini Yoga tradition. After that we went back and forth on a few ideas, but nothing quite clicked. So we let it go and I wasn’t sure when we’d pick it up again. But then the pandemic happened, and life changed dramatically. Suddenly, our healing track felt relevant in a whole new way. As soon as I heard Andy’s revised version of the song, I burst into tears! It just touched something inside of me and I knew we were on the right track.

From there we went back and forth a few times, making revisions and adjusting the arrangement. Then I asked Andy if he’d be open to bringing a few of my dear musician friends into the project. He was into the idea, so first Eugene Ruffolo added his gorgeous acoustic guitar and then Josh Colow laid down his stunning electric guitar. Once everything was set, we handed the final track over to my friend Justin Guip to mix. Justin is a gifted three-time Grammy-winning producer/engineer, and he brought it all home in such a beautiful way.

Why did you choose the mantra Ra Ma Da Sa? And how does its meaning apply to the world today?

Carrie: Ra Ma Da Sa calls on the energies of the sun, the moon, the earth, and Infinity to bring deep healing. This mantra can be used to heal oneself or to send healing to others, including the planet. I’ve been listening to and singing this mantra for many years, and I think it’s very powerful. Little did we know when we first started to create our track that the whole world would be plunged into a pandemic, but here we are. So, it seems like the song wrote itself right on time.

Andy: When I first heard Carrie’s beautiful version of Ra Ma Da Sa on Insight Timer it lifted me up, gave me this wash of peace, and a big smile. I can’t say exactly why, but this mantra just stuck with me and I’ve listened to it many, many times. What I personally love so much about mantras, and Ra Ma Da Sa in particular, is that they’re universal. You don’t need to speak a certain language—you’re just immersed in this sound that can take you to a healing place.

How can music meditation help people that are struggling in current times?

Carrie: Music is a powerful unifier. The Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan referred to it as the means of expressing “universal religion” and I think there’s so much truth in that. A song is like a river than anyone can drink from, no matter their color, caste, or creed. Music is also an amazing vehicle through which to express emotions. A song can help us process our grief, express our love, release our anger, calm our nerves, and so much more. That’s one of the reasons why music is such an important ally in these times. With all of the turbulence in the world and in our minds, we need ways to release our emotions and feel our hearts. And when music is coupled with the pure vibration of mantra, its power is even more amplified. Then it becomes a sonic technology for transformation and awakening.

Andy: Music has always been a central part of my life. From as young as I can remember I was never far from a pair of headphones. The bands I loved growing up became the soundtrack to my life and they spoke more directly about what I was feeling than any adult could. Just five seconds of a song could lift my mood, set my imagination on fire or meet my mood. Music gave me permission to be who I was. I think often when people listen to guided meditations, they just want permission to feel what they feel and be who they are. My hope is that this permission is internalized and brought into everyday life.

When I was 11, I decided I wanted to send my own music message out into the ether. The drum kit came calling and gave me a voice to communicate what I was feeling, too. That doesn’t mean I was angry; I actually felt like I was flying when I played. I was taken away to a magical place when I picked up those sticks. I remember I’d sit watching the clock on a Saturday morning waiting for 10am, which meant I was allowed to play. Sorry neighbors! So for a long time I was unconsciously aware of the healing power of music and it felt natural to include it in my meditations. Music goes to the places words can’t reach. It’s also a very personal thing, so you have to choose what resonates with you.

Throughout the process of creating this music piece, how did you experience hope and healing yourself?

Carrie: Working on this track was such an inspiring, creative experience for me. Although there were many twists and turns along the way—working across the ocean between the US and London—both Andy and I felt like the process was so much bigger than us. It was almost like a force was creating the song and we were just along for the ride. I loved how seamlessly all of the parts came together and how the song touched my heart in a new way every time I listened to it—and it still does today. 

One of the most meaningful gifts of this collaboration was the genuine, soul-nourishing friendship that Andy and I formed. Even though we’ve never met in person, it feels like we’ve known each other for ages. That’s the gift of technology, and I’m really grateful for it. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter that our musical backgrounds and teaching styles are a bit different because love is the north star for both of us. We hope that comes through in the music.

Andy: From March to July this track took over my life. It kept calling me back everyday so I went with it. There was a real alchemy to the journey, as the song seemed to mirror our lives at the time, presenting challenges but also ways to process and heal what we were going through. Sometimes there was grappling and other times we were brought to tears. We certainly got lost along the way, but the track always brought us back. There was such a lovely energy between us through this whole process.

The track was originally 17 minutes long and included a guided meditation from Carrie. Over time, things got carved away until we found its heart. The same thing happened for me. I felt so much heaviness and sorrow for the state of the planet at this time—so much hopelessness—and it all got poured into the song. Each time I took a chunk of the song out that wasn’t needed it felt like a cleansing of sorts. And as the track got lighter, it began to shine more and more.

Meditation. Free.