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

Via elephant journal
on Mar 21, 2012
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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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14 Responses to “Five Things I Learned from Chanting with Krishna Das. ~ Meryl Davids Landau”

  1. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posted to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
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  2. Eric says:

    The only point I got was that your comment is an example of "contempt prior to experience". Maybe if you attend a Kirtan, you could write an informed comment filled with valid objections grounded in first-hand knowledge rather than conjecture. Maybe.

  3. Harleigh Quinn says:

    I have been buddhist for over 22 years, and have been told I have a knack, nay, a superhuman ability, to see through people.
    I only have to have met the people that have gone to make my decision.
    Also, there are issues I have with the hypocritical narcissism that is Ram Das.
    Sorry, but you will not get me to drink this kool-ade, and this isn't jonestown.

  4. Eric says:

    Meryl~ Great article!! Every Kirtan artist has their own style, and you can even learn to do it yourself. Some people don't even chant or dance, they just soak up the positive energy (I do all three 🙂

  5. Eric says:

    It must be great to have X-ray vision and see through people. Good luck with that (um…..Ram Dass is not even mentioned in the article). I get it: KIRTAN IS AN EVIL DAS CULT CREATION….(that started in India in the Middle Ages).

    Thanks 🙂

  6. Harleigh Quinn says:

    Never said that, so you have just succeeded in making my point for me.
    KRISHNA DAS is the partner or RAM DAS.

    I'm not even going to continue with this.

  7. AMLA says:

    Dear Sweet Eric..Don't waist your time or beautiful energy with this ..A line comes to mind ..Never argue with someone you have to educate first ..Kirtan /Chanting the Lords Names/Bhakti Yoga is beautiful practice of devotion …And Krishna Dass & Ram Dass are 2 of the most amazing people on earth ..Like Maharaji's says Christ is our Guru and " Be like Christ be lost in Love" . Love everybody ! Harleigh Quinn sending love your way also . Nameste AMLA

  8. Michelle says:

    Beautifully & perfectly put AMLA.

  9. Grettal says:

    Some of us need to wake up the love society assumes we have easy access to. We don't. Our primal brain and the protective instinct covers us like a hard shell and needs to be cracked open. Chanting does that for us. It did for me. Get past the logistics of Krishna, Christ, Buddha. It's not the name, it's the vibration. A hammer is the same no matter what company manufactured it. The fact is Krishna Das has been able to reach so many people in a positive way and helped open them to spirit and love.

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