While I was on a self discovery journey in Bali, Indonesia, I stumbled across Kirtan. It was love at first sight and I have to say, I never imagined I would be leading classes and doing Kirtan with others as often as I am now.
What is Kirtan (Keer-tan)?
Kirtan is a Sanskrit word meaning, reciting, telling, narrating, describing of an idea or story. Kirtan is a form of Bhakti Yoga, also known as divine singing. Bhakti Yoga is called the yoga of devotion. In Kirtan, we chant a Sanskrit mantra repeatedly to achieve a meditative state; allowing our minds to be calm and to not judge ourselves or think.
Kirtan has been practiced in since ancient India cultures existed and thus why many of the chants are done in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is a holy language and provide a powerful connection to ancient roots of divinity.
Overall, Kirtan is a way to relax and meditate with music. It brings joy, contentment and is completely effortless to perform.
The Benefits of Kirtan
Many recently targeted studies have been done on the benefits of Kirtan in various institutions around the world. Their findings were eye opening and offered perspective about this practice and the benefits of doing it for 10 to 15 minutes per day.
According to an article published on psychology today, written by Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D, the university of Pennsylvania performed a study of Kirtan on patients with memory loss. After 8 weeks of Kirtan practice, participants underwent a brain scan and findings indicated increased cerebral blood flow in several areas. Most importantly, their performance on neuropsychological testing showed improved visuospatial memory, increased connectivity, and improved verbal memory. Others researchers have found that Kirtan can reduce symptoms of depression and improve chronic pain. Click here to read more
For those of us who get stuck in negative thinking patterns, Kirtan offers a chance to diminish thought and distract us from thinking. For me, I couldn’t drive myself anywhere, unless I had a companion or someone to follow me. Now when I am driving, if I feel myself drifting into anxiety or panic, I turn on Kirtan meditations and sing those thoughts away. If you live with agoraphobia or any anxiety disorder that is triggered by overthinking or negative thinking patterns, Kirtan is a calm way to rescue your mind. My go to chant is the one to Ganesha, a god said to be the remover of obstacles.
According to The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation (ARPF), it has been found that the following benefits occur with a consistent practice of Kirtan:
- Improved memory
- Reduced Stress
- Enhanced Brain Blood Flow
- Increased Healthy Brain Size
- Improved Brain Chemistry
- Increased Telomerase (parts of genes that keep us young)
- Decrease in Bad Genes
- Improvement of Good Genes
- Improved Sleep
- Less Depression
- Clarity of Purpose
- Spiritual Well-being
The last benefit I want to mention, though there are many more I might have missed, is how Kirtan allows us to access deeper states of our consciousness and heal our own bodies. For those who experience chronic pain, the practice of kirtan can allow us to target the pain and bring ourselves to a place of full transformational healing. Furthermore, stroke victims can find increased recovery with the use of kirtan to add blood flow to the parts of the brain that suffered trauma.
How to Start Improving your Life with Kirtan?
Wherever you are, Kirtan is accessible on YouTube, on virtual classes (which I myself teach some of these classes) and various other places online. Make a pact to practice this ancient form of Bhakti Yoga as often as possible. It’s as simple as finding some chants, listening and singing along. Google the mantra, see how it is supposed to sound and focus your mind on singing along with the Wallah, Kirtan leader. Experience these benefits and many more, because Kirtan is a form of meditative yoga. Much like mindfulness meditations, Kirtan is designed to help you access your deeper levels of consciousness and evoke your own inner power to heal yourself.
I’ll leave you with an awesome quote from Osho.
“Music is something very valuable; don’t renounce music. If you truly enjoy music, this enjoyment will become your meditation, it will become your inner oneness. Music is the easiest method of meditation.
Whosoever can let himself dissolve into music has no need to seek anything else to dissolve into. Music is wonderfully intoxicating. Music is the ultimate wine. Dissolving deeper and deeper into it, your thoughts will go, your ego will go. Understand music as meditation.
If one finds joy in music, then everything can be dropped, but music must not be dropped. If music can become your very spiritual life, then let it become. This much courage will be needed: the courage to put everything at stake. Then something can come to fruit in life. Then something can be attained in life. Everything else is trivial. If this is the voice of your being, then follow this voice.”From the book “Divine Singing” by Chaitanya Kabir citing the works of Oshos about music