Sunday, 25 September 2011


I'm still swooning from the kirtan this afternoon at Acu Harmony and Health in Stony Plain!

I can't quite tell if it was the talent of Brian McLeod and Marcus Fung or the delicious raw chocolate Lacie handed me on the way out, or both, but I'm still feeling kirtan-high, and its so sweet!

Kirtan is a call-and-response style of singing.  It is a practice of Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotion.  Basically, you sing divine names over and over and over again!

The simplicity of the words, the stories behind them, and the way the songs start out slow and quiet and get louder and faster and then softer again seems to rattle things into place. 

I think of kirtan as a pressure washer for the nadis - it really gets the crap out!

Today, we were a small group of women, like giggly gopis, charmed and enchanted by Brian's Krishna-like flute and digeridoo, and Marcus's infectous smile as he shared songs and dances honoring the voluptuous curves of the Divine Mother. 

But kirtan events can be anything from a family gathering to a huge festival featuring famous kirtan wallas like Jai Uttal, Krishna Das, Shyam DasBhagavan Das, Deva Premal and Miten, Snatam Kaur, Karnamrita Dasi, Durga Das (David Newman) and many more.

Kirtan is sweet in a way you can't understand unless you've tried it.  The same way you can't explain honey to someone who hasn't tasted it.  It's Madhava....

Madhava is a name of Krishna meaning "Sweet as Honey", describing the irresistable allure of the divine. 
One morsel of the All-Attractive One and you're hooked!
I didn't always find Kirtan sweet. 

When we were first introduced during my Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training I found it intruiging but strange. 

The Sanskrit words got jumbled.  I couldn't read the long strings of syllables fast enough to join in.  I was sore from sitting crosslegged on the hard, rough, sloped cement floor of the temple and worse yet, like most people, I was brutally self conscious of my voice. 

Sometimes the melodies were filled with dreamy longing or dripping with devotion I wasn't relating to.  Sometimes the tamborines and droney harmonium were just too clattery and wierd. 

And sometimes the songs made me feel things... things I wasn't aware I was feeling... good or bad, happy or sad, the kirtan drew it out.

Soon enough, like commercial jingles, the tunes got stuck in my head.  I started to have favorites.  They started to mean something to me.  The taste of the divine name was growing on me.

It stopped mattering to me whether or not my voice sounded "good".  I realized that like the other practices of yoga, it wasn't about performance or perfection.  It was a medium for transformation and I had lots of love and pain all mixed up together in my heart that needed an outlet.

Now my favorite ashram pastime is singing these love songs to God in the ocean of bliss and tears with my friends.  In times of joy they are a celebration and in times of heartache and disappointment they are medicine.

Kirtan lets us express ourselves and our emotions without indulging in or having to share our personal stories.  We can be in community with friends or strangers regardless of our mood, and lift our spirits by actually loosening knots around the Anahata Chakra

In other words, in kirtan we can literally sing our hearts out!

It was super sweet today to be part of the Stony Plain Sangha!  As sweet as honey in fact... or rather Lacie's artisan raw chocolate! 

Thank you, it was wonderful,  I can't wait for the next one!

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