Kirtan is an ancient participatory music experience. Kirtan can carry us effortlessly to a place of stillness. One of the oldest sacred music traditions of the world, the kirtan call-and-response chanting genre comes to us from India. Using ancient Sanskrit mantras, the kirtan calls upon sacred energies which serve to quiet the mind, remove obstacles, and bring us back to the center of our being. By repeating simple mantras over and over, the kirtan is an easy way for people to experience some freedom from the daily chatter of the mind. And while it is true that we can sing these chants in the solitude of our own home, there is nothing like the magic of chanting live with other participants-from and adding energy to the chant. People often say they feel "buzzed" for days following such a chanting experience.
So what gives us that buzz? Something about the kirtan experience goes beyond the music itself, goes to a deeper experience of vibration. We all resonate at different frequencies, and these frequencies change according to what we are doing and thinking. So when we are all doing the same thing-chanting, breathing, and moving to the same rhythms-our vibrations begin to synchronize and the resulting experience is very powerful. The laws of vibration help us out here, because vibrations align themselves to stronger vibrations, which make it difficult to hold on to negative emontions during the chanting experience. If you were only to sit in the room without participating, the idea is that you could still feel the shift. Something happens-the energy begins to activate the spirit that exists within us all.
It's the Heart, not the Art! Although the kirtan involves music, the underlying art of kirtan chanting is not actually about musical ability or training-it is about the heart. Everyone can participate, regardless of age or cultural background. The purpose of this music is to get us out of our heads and into our hearts. Songs are varying in length. The longer songs allow for deeper experience of the effects, and with the simple, repetitive lyrics (it's a chant, after all!) we really don't have to think much about the words. In fact, because the ancient Sanskrit lyrics are not familiar to many of us Westerners, these words take us away from the mind's constant chatter a little easier. The powerful healing and transformational energies of these ancient chants can help to reconnect us to the Ever-Present and Eternal Being that lies within us all. All the mantras, melodies, and instruments of kirtan are designed to lead us toward this meditative state.