Sunday, January 27, 2013
Enchanted Hearts Kirtan
Last night, I had my very first kirtan experience! It was actually held at one of my favorite local yoga studios right here in Akron. The group leading it was called Enchanted Hearts. In Sanskirt, kirtan means "to praise," and is part of a yogic path called Bhakti, which is a practice devoted to trying to connect with God (or "the universe" or Goddess, etc, whatever name you give to the idea of a benevolent creative force). A kirtan is a live concert with call-and-respond style singing or chanting with quiet meditation between songs. The words are actually called mantras. Technically a mantra can be any sacred word or syllable used as an object of concentration to help you focus on and manifest something in your life. It is repeated over and over to inspire healing, personal transformation, or mental epiphany.
One of my favorites is commonly called the Gayatri (GUY-ah-tree) mantra (there are many of this type, but this one is considered old and powerful), so I'll just share the one as an example! You can hear a very popular western interpretation here as well:
Om Bhuur-Bhuvah Svah
Bhargo Devasya Dhiimahi
Dhiyo Yo Nah Pracodayaat
In English, it can be translated as "Let us meditate on the glory of that Being who has produced this universe; may it enlighten our minds." Or, in my own words, "Know your connection to God & fellow human beings. May the idea or change you are seeking become realized, or simply feel spontaneous joy right now."
The experience was very similar to singing hymns in a church. Everyone seemed to have a smile and positive attitude, it was a very relaxed and joyful event. And it appeared that anything goes! We sat on blankets on the floor, and during the performance people became at ease enough to lie down, sway in their seat, stretch out in simple yoga postures, stand up and dance, or simply meditate. Overall it was a positive experience! Personally I'm a very quiet and shy person so this is a great atmosphere to allow myself to be verbally expressive and connect with my community in a little-to-no pressure environment.
Cheers to strengthening your Earthly and spiritual connections, huh? :)