March 22, 2012

Five Things I Learned from Chanting with Krishna Das. ~ Meryl Davids Landau

When I discovered that the kirtan master Krishna Das would be performing near my home, I jumped at the chance to experience him live.

Like most yoga fans, I’d heard his CDs countless times. But, having been to kirtans (call-and-response chanting) by other singers, I knew hearing him in person would be magical, and I was not disappointed. The concert was not only terrific, it taught me a few things I hadn’t previously considered. I thought it would be fun to share.

1. You drop 10 pounds by chanting.

Or at least it feels that way. During the concert, as the music wound its way inside my body, I felt like I was getting lighter. Any heaviness, which I suspect comes from those negative thoughts that sometimes block my connection to my higher self, simply melted away. This is the beauty of kirtan, the way it sneakily raises the vibration inside our cells without our having to do anything but sing. (Of course, when I got home, I celebrated my state of lightness by eating a couple of Girl Scout cookies!)

2. Sometimes it’s good to get a song stuck in your head.

From the drive home till I went to bed, and for a time the next day, “Om Nema Shivaya,” and Das’ more lighthearted, “Jesus on the Main Line,” reverberated through my brain. This was totally different from when I get Coldplay or Blink-182 lyrics trapped in a mental loop and I try everything I can think of to shut them down. Having kirtan bits replay elevated me higher and higher the more I “heard” them. Even now, a few weeks later, I sometimes happily notice that both the song and the uplifting emotion have turned on in my head without my trying.

3. Our bodies were made for movement.

What seemed like great seats at the start of the evening—right in the center of the theater’s auditorium—became a liability as the night wore on. Sure, I could tap my feet, clap my hands and sway my head and torso, but I didn’t have room to really move. It took all my restraint not to jump on top of my chair and shimmy. As with yoga, being an observer isn’t an option—the body wants a piece of the action. Next time I’ll remember to sit on the aisle.

4. Chanting brings out the writing muse.

It was late when I got home, but I wasn’t called to go to bed. (The music thrumming through my brain, see number two, was certainly a factor.) Instead, I felt inspired to sit at my computer. As a professional writer, I don’t usually have writer’s block. But I also don’t usually have “writer’s volcano” the way I did that night, with sentences exploding out of my typing fingers. Not only did I outline this post, I wrote an entire chapter to the sequel of my novel! Since then, I’ve regularly begun playing a kirtan CD before writing. While it’s not quite as good as hearing Das live, it’s a powerful way to open the creative taps.

5. It’s called practice for a reason.

Actually, this is Das’ line, but I completely agree. My kirtan evening reinforced my long-held belief that, when it comes to any spiritual practice, it’s not enough to dabble. The ideal is to regularly open your vocal chords—or, in the case of yoga or meditation, kick back into downward dog or sit with your eyes closed. My ongoing practice of these fabulous, uplifting techniques may never make me perfect—at least I’ve yet to meet someone I consider a hundred percent enlightened—but they definitely keep me on a great road.

Thank you, Krishna Das. Namaste!

Meryl Davids Landau is a certified yoga teacher and the author of the spiritual women’s novel Downward Dog, Upward Fog, which was featured on Elephant Yoga in December. The novel was recommended by the Yoga Journal, Yoga Dork and Everything Yoga blogs, and Foreword Reviews calls it “an inspirational gem that will appeal to introspective, evolving women.” Read excerpts here. Meryl also writes for O: the Oprah Magazine, Whole Living, Reader’s Digest and other national magazines.






Editor: Tanya L. Markul

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