I never thought I'd be a fan of Kirtan, Bhakti, devotional singing...but it turns out that this is a powerful path for me. Yesterday when we were in a circle at graduation, we went around and each said what we had to say. I said a bit and then strummed and sang Desrees "You Gotta Be", because really the biggest lesson learned is that LOVE WILL SAVE THE DAY. I have been surrounded with love, showered with love, been received with love, and felt more love in this course than I thought it was possible to have. My heart has doubled in size, and much of that space I owe to the grief and the sorrow...which has created more room for the Joy. When I sing and chant ("Japa"), I can feel my heart expanding and love just bursting out of my chest. Yesterday while everyone was collecting their certificates and I was singing "May The Long Time Sun...", I almost spontaneously combusted with love. I realized that it has been a LONG time since I sang because I wanted to sing. If I haven't had a paying gig, then I haven't picked up the guitar. I haven't written any songs and I certainly haven't done any chanting. Yesterday when I was singing, I felt myself *healing*. Fittingly, the oracle card that I picked after the ceremony was the "Humpback Whale" : "music is essential to your healing and your well-being, whether singing, playing an instrument, or listening."
The oracle card (reading from the booklet) continues....
"In order to diagnose their patients, one of the questions that shamans often asked was when the patient stopped singing. If it had been quite some time, the shaman was certain to recommend singing as an essential part of recovery. All that's involved when you sing- the fullness and rhythm of your breathing, the opening of your mouth and jaw, and the soulful and creative expression of your spirit- serves to enhance your health and raise your vibrations.
Similarly, playing an instrument can touch those inner creative depths that yearn to be expressed through song. Simply listening with your full attention to your favorite tune or melody can also inspire and heal. Sing, chant or play an instrument! Let the magical child inside help you rediscover the joy of creating music.
Associations: singing, breathwork, sound healing, sensitivity, ancestral wisdom, inner depths, insight, healing. "
Chanting may feel odd at first, but that's just because its new. So I invite you to step a bit out of your comfort zone and chant a bit this week. Make a commitment to start and end each day with just a few minutes of chanting.
AHEM PREMA (a-hem pray-ma) means "I am divine love". This is a tough one for me, and since I'm working on loving myself (because its only through loving yourself that you can give love to others) this is a great chant. Just inhaling and then exhaling and singing out Ahem Prema. Do it again and again and again, meditating on your heart center, truly feeling that YOU are divine love. If chanting something in Sanskrit is too much, maybe you just focus on saying to yourself "I am love", because once you are love, you are surrounded by love.
The mantra I have been chanting is the Gayatri mantra, which is the mostly widely chant mantra in India. There are several variations of the translation that are all along the lines of :
"We meditate on the adorable glory of the radiant sun; may he inspire our intelligence."
In class we talked about how this mantra is in worship of the life-giving Sun, and that it's about bringing lightness into dark. And since I have been in a bit of a dark place, when I chant this mantra I feel my body filling with light: love, bliss, contentment, healing. When you first start chanting it it may be hard to feel something, because you haven't yet memorized the words. But once it's second nature (which only takes a day or two), you can really feel it's power. I sing it, slowly and loud and with love, and every.single.time I can't help but to cry, tears straight streaming down my face. And that is Bhakti...devotion...unconditional love.
There are many versions, fast and slow, so find the one that resonates with you and enjoy. Chanting is the most beautiful gift that we can give to ourselves and the universe. Enjoy.
AUM BHOOR BHUWAH SWAHA,
TAT SAVITUR VARENYAM
BHARGO DEVASAYA DHEEMAHI
DHIYO YO NAHA PRACHODAYAT.