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I’ll never forget the first time I saw Krishna Das. He was performing at Kripalu, a yoga training and wellness retreat center. The concert was held in their main hall originally designed for Jesuit priests in training.
Imagine vaulted ceilings and a stage adorned with Buddhist statues.
I sat in a crowd of several hundred, curious about this man I had heard of and whose music I had been introduced to.
Kirtan chanting was a style of music I was barely familiar with. My husband occasionally listens to it as he practices his morning yoga sequences, and friends have shared it with me in the past.
At the concert, I was truly inducted. Sheets of lyrics or mantras were distributed. They were written in Sanskrit, and at the time I had absolutely no idea what they translated to in English.
It is said that knowing the literal meaning of a mantra is unnecessary. For anyone who has listened to Deepak Chopra's meditations, you may be familiar with this concept. It is the feeling or sacred meaning of the mantra one is chanting that is important.
Kirtan is a call and response style of singing that originated in India and became popular around the 12th century. A lead singer introduces a chant or mantra. Participants then repeat this back mimicking the same rhythmic and melodic intonations. Usually there is musical accompaniment.
Chanting is a rhythmical repetition of a prayer, mantra, syllable or sound. It has been around since millennia as a form of spiritual practice. The words and sounds used in a chant are suffused with powerful spiritual vibrations.
Mantras & chanting are forms of meditation that have been linked to many benefits for your body, mind, soul.
Benefits of Mantras & Chanting
Here are a few popular chants you can try out.
Simply bring yourself into a meditative state by taking 3 long deep breaths in and out, relaxing your body and mind with each exhalation. Then, say the mantra out loud or to yourself, and repeat it. Allow your mind to let go of any expectations. The key is to relax.
Om is the the sound the Universe. When chanted, you align and connect with all that is; God, earth, humanity, everything. As you chant on the sound of Om allow it to vibrate throughout your body. The rhythmic pronunciation and vibrations have a calming effect on the nervous system typical in all styles of meditation.
Om, Mani, Padme, Hum When chanted out loud or silently to oneself, this mantra invokes benevolent attention and compassion. It is deeply transformative. You can practice this while seated in meditation or sung throughout your day.
Hari Om This mantra is known to help purify the body and soul, removing obstacles on your path. Benefits include a boost in confidence, concentrated effort on desired goals, and a feeling of happiness.
FREEDOM FROM FEAR & SUFFERING
Om Tare Tuttare Tare Swaha is the mantra of Green Tara, Mother of the Buddhas. Her compassion takes the wind out of pain and suffering. Repeating this mantra will bring you into a peaceful state of mind allowing you to witness suffering as something outside of yourself that can be released. This can be chanted for the benefit of not only yourself, but for the well being of others.
Essentially, chanting is a highly charged, focused and repetitive form of prayer. It is an invocation to access the deepest place of love within yourself.
If you are curious and would like to experience live chanting, please join me on September 17th in my first live performance of Kirtan Chanting!
Fringe Festival Live Concert
Across the Universe: Music for Yoga & Meditation
Featuring Alana Cahoon, John Covach & Chris Meeker
Saturday, September 17
7:30 - 8:30 PM
Hatch Recital Hall
Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY
Enjoy an evening of music that has played a role in the yoga and meditation movements in the US since the 1960s, featuring selections by John Lennon, George Harrison, Krishna Das and others in an all-acoustic performance by Alana Cahoon, Chris Meeker, and John Covach in Eastman’s beautiful and resonant Hatch Hall as part of the Rochester Fringe Festival.
Audience singing will be encouraged and a portion from the sale of each ticket will be donated to Lollypop Farm, the Humane Society of Greater Rochester. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased from the Rochester Fringe Festival site beginning July 11, 2022
Alana Cahoon is the founder of Grow 2 B U and Being in Balance Academy. Her coaching programs support your overall wellness in a natural holistic approach. www.alanacahoon.com
Alana writes her monthly column 'Mind, Body, Spirt' for RochesterWomanOnline focusing on the balance of all 3 in a creative manner, filled with inspiration.