I was very lucky to attend a wonderful Kirtan event with Sri Prahlada on Saturday evening, along with some fellow yogis at The Living Room in Coogee and what a delightful evening it was! I had a busy Saturday jam packed with teaching and coaching and I just about made it on time to Coogee for the 7:30pm start. As we climbed up the stairs to the studio, I could hear the wonderful music in the distance and my troubles and stresses suddenly became a distant memory and seemed to float away. I left the evening feeling spectacularly light, happy, content and so full of gratitude.
I had been following Sri Prahlada for the past year or so, he holds the most amazing Kirtan events and so I jumped at the chance when a friend of mine asked if I was keen to join. I have seen him a couple of times this year; at the Bodhi festival in Newcastle in January, at Body Mind Life in Surry Hills and a couple of times in Paddington so you could say I am a huge fan (or stalker!). He is without a doubt one of my all time favourite Kirtan artists. I’ve even managed to convert my fiancée who I regularly manage to persuade to come along with me!
My first experience of Kirtan!
I was first introduced to the magnificent Kirtan at my very first yoga retreat at Satyananda during my teacher training and I’ve been hooked ever since. My first experience was absolute pure joy, happiness and tears – a stream all at once. In Kirtan you start seated on cushions while the music begins to flow. At any stage if and when you get the urge to get up and dance, you just do! You let go of how you should be dancing in that moment and simply move to the beautiful mantra and instruments. That’s exactly what I did at my first experience. I can actually recall almost toppling over in bursts of laughter at one stage. I wasn’t sure what this feeling was or what was going on – I felt so giggly and childlike but I enjoyed it and then the next minute came the tears. You could say it kind of felt like my inner child was coming out to shine and dance and with absolutely no need for alcohol! Previous to this point I had always associated dancing with alcohol and couldn’t comprehend dancing without a glass of wine or drink of some sort in my hand.
This whole Kirtan thing might sound strange to you but WOW do you feel incredible afterwards; so uplifted and light! Let me tell you a little bit about it and hopefully by the end of my post I will have you jumping with joy and eager to attend the next one.
What exactly is Kirtan?
Kirtan is a part of the path of devotional yoga (known as Bhakti yoga) which dates back to the 15th century. The Bhaktis first wrote and then sang blissful love poems to the divine. Their message was pretty simple: develop joy and see the divine in one another. In the eyes of love, we are all the same. Yoga is about the uniting or yoking of the mind, body, spirit and/or self with the Divine and then Bhakti yoga is devotion in the form of active involvement of a devotee in worship of the Divine.[box type=”info”]
The Yoga-sutras of Patanjali state that, “The Divine is indicated by the syllable om. Chanting om should be conducted with understanding of its meaning. Such chanting awakens spiritual insight and destroys obstacles such as disease, procrastination, laziness, doubt, pain, nervousness, and lamentation” (Yoga Sutras: 1.27-31).[/box]
Kirtan is an ancient form of meditation which has been practiced for thousands of years. It is “mantra” meditation as song. Mantra is a Sanskrit word, man means mind and tra means free. Kirtan works on freeing the mind of fear, sadness and anxiety and opens your heart to expose your spiritual nature of eternity and bliss (Ananda). It involves singing mantras on a call and response (repetitive) along with lots of beautiful musical instruments (harmonium, flute, drum, dilruba, dotara etc.) . The kirtan leader sings the mantra and the audience sings in response.
What are the benefits of Kirtan?
It’s really hard to explain in words, you really have to experience it for yourself to understand the benefits. I did however find the below on Sri Prahlada’s website and thought he narrowed it down really well.
– Inner peace.
– Opening of the heart which brings feelings of love and compassion.
– Connection with the divine and other Kirtan participants.
– On occasion, goose bumps and tears as the heart jumps with joy.
Kirtan allows the pure soul to shine forth.
What are the benefits of Mantra?
Similar to prayer and affirmation the repetitive use of mantra can have very influential effects on the body, mind, spirit and emotions. Mentally, mantra meditation increases mindfulness, and improves memory and attention. Physically, mantra meditation lowers the heart rate, reduces blood pressure, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) to allow healing to occur. Mantra meditation helps to build self-confidence and self-empowerment, reduces stress and balances the emotions. Spiritually, mantras are said to melt away one’s bad karma (cause and effect), produce jnana (wisdom) and are seen as one of the many yogic paths towards self-realization (the highest goal of yoga).
So, have I converted you yet? Well this next video snippet I found on Kirtan by Sri Prahlada might just be the icing on the cake. Watch it and then get yourself to a Kirtan event soon and experience all the wonderful and blissful benefits. Better still come along to one of Sri Prahlada’s next Kirtan events
Tell me, are you a fellow Kirtan fan or is this completely new to you? I would love to hear your experiences of Kirtan or happy to answer any questions you may have below.
Love, Light and Lots of Happiness,
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