Creating Connection, Love and Joy with Singing
In addition to sharing the practice of asana (yogic postures for developing strength and flexibility), breathing, meditation, and laughter,
I have a deep passion and love for sharing Kirtan.
WHAT IS IT?
In Kirtan, we gather to sing praises to the divine through the practice of mantra meditation. A mantra is a word or series of words that aid in developing concentration.
Kirtan is a Sanskrit word that means “to repeat.” It is a devotional, ecstatic practice of chanting the names of God in the ancient sacred language of Sanskrit. This practice comes from the bhakti yoga (or the path of devotion) tradition of India.
Kirtan is typically song in a call and response style and the chants are lead by a kirtan leader. The purpose is to awaken our hearts to the divine love that is already present in us, to embody the bliss and magnificence of our true nature, and to sing ourselves awake. In the practice, we train the mind to focus on the sound of the names, but we also engage our feelings with our singing to open our hearts.
WHY I CHANT
My love for the practice of mantra meditation and chanting began at age 19 when I immersed myself for 7 months with the devotees of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON- aka the Hare Krishna's) in Detroit, Michigan. While I no longer identify as a Hare Krishna, I have retained my love for chanting because of the practice's powerful ability to transform my mood and my life. In 2012 I learned to play the harmonium, a beautiful instrument from India that is traditionally used for devotional singing. I trained with Mike Cohen of the Kirtan Leader Institute and led regular Kirtan events in Wisconsin from the fall of 2012 to the Spring of 2017. The power of singing together in a group and focusing our energy on the sound of the mantra and the music is incredible and I have seen many people who come to my Kirtan events experience huge shifts in energy. I feel so honored to be witness to this and to facilitate these kinds of experiences.
My philosophy on sharing Kirtan is to "keep it simple." Many of the chants I lead are in Sanskrit, but I keep them very simple and easy to learn. I often bring in simple chants and spiritual songs that are in English. The point is not so much about WHAT we chant, as is the experience of chanting itself. The power of the practice is in the act of singing (the increased oxygen due to the way we breath when we sing and the way sound vibrates in the body). I strive to make my Kirtan experiences welcoming to everyone, regardless if they have any experience with Sanskrit, yoga philosophy, or Hindu Gods and Goddesses. To me, Kirtan is a practice of connecting with a higher vibrational state of energy. This includes the energy of forgiveness, gratitude, joy, peace and most importantly, LOVE.
The other reason I love to chant is because singing together creates community like no other vehicle. If you want to create a community vibe at your yoga studio, church, or spiritually minded group, consider contacting me.
I have recently relocated to Ann Arbor Michigan and am available to lead Kirtan events in Ann Arbor and around SE Michigan. Ideally, we would find a regular time to hold an event (monthly for example) at your space to build the community. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.
July 2019 update: You can find me leading chants on occasion with the Full Moon Kirtan Michigan event. This kirtan happens every month on or near the full moon at various locations (most often near Ann Arbor). To find out more details, follow along on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/full.moon.kirtan/