“They who hear are beloved of GOD. Hearing creates good will. Hearing the voice of FATHER-MOTHER GOD requires silence of the body and of the mind.”
I am replying since we will be closing the forum and Sba Dja has not had time to reply. She may do so later and I can reopen the forum temporarily for that purpose.
About your inquiry: “Although i used to meditate before, but, i never had to practice a mantra while doing so: it appears to me like a dual activity involving concentrating on the hekau and controlling the mind.”
The hekau (mantra) is for the purpose of transforming the vibratory level of the personality, especially the physical body and mind, so as to make it more harmonious with the natural order (maat). Additionally it is for helping the mind focus on the series of sounds. Next it infuses a set of wisdom teachings that it encapsulates, like a formula, and this works in the unconsciu0s level. If you find that you are at a concentrated level then you may not need the hekau at that point. You will find that a serious shedy practice will augment your previous practices.
About your statement: “Regarding the ARI shedy, i have a strong pre-disposition with connecting with ASET in a sense that culturally, the goddess has a strong importance in Haiti. However, at times, it is difficult for me to properly feel that connection. I am not sure if it is something that will come with times. But, what i wanted to ask is should we only mentally think or can we do some verbal evocations as well.”
When practicing divine worship especially at the level of Ta or earth plane and Pet or Astral plane, it is flexible in that you can select the form, colors and sounds (invocations) related to a chosen tutelary divinity; so you can pick the most appealing, the most comforting, the most endearing visualizations, images and qualities that have been presented by the teaching. At the higher levels of practice, when understanding of the philosophical nature of the divine grows, then one graduates, as if from elementary and high school to college and grad school etc., on the practice of devotion and connection through sentiments that give way to pure feeling and absolute identification with the Divine.
Indeed, the shedy is a way of life and also the key ingredient that makes the whole thing go is the wisdom, if it is properly understood and practiced. Then in time the positive development is assured.