Unique and Creative Approaches to Kirtan


Struggling To Meditate? Kirtan Is For You

Posted on December 22, 2016 | Our Religion is Love

Struggling To Meditate? Kirtan Is For You
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By Radha Krishna Das

We were recently contacted by a journalist from SBS who was writing an article on meditation. Most of her questions centred around whether there is any other way to meditate other than sitting for hours at a time because for a lot of people it’s really confronting and really hard. Part of the reply that we sent in to the questions was, yes there is and it’s called kirtan.

Most people think about meditation as being quietening the mind, stilling the mind, being in the present moment; so many different concepts and ideas we have about meditation. I’ve been practicing meditation myself since 1975 so it’s been a few years. Not that it makes me a special expert or anything but I’ve been learning for some time and I’ve been teaching meditation since 1985 and if I had $100 for everyone who said that meditation is really difficult and they can’t do it and it’s too hard, I’d be a billionaire.

So many people say it’s too hard, they’ve tried to meditate but it’s too difficult and they can’t control the mind. But if we think we’re just going to sit down and still the mind through some kind of determination or strength of mind then it is a very difficult and onerous task.

But it’s really easy in the practice of mantra meditation of which kirtan is the most exquisite and beautiful form.  As we’re singing, as we’re actually immersing ourselves in the experience of kirtan, the mind automatically comes along for the ride. You don’t have to try extraneously to bring the mind under control. You listen to the beautiful sound as it’s being sung. Then you sing the beautiful sound. We’re immersing our body, our mind, our voice, everything is being immersed in the experience of mantra meditation, in this case, kirtan. It’s very, very easy. In fact, it even gets to the point where you can stand up and you can clap and you can sway and you can dance and you can crowd surf and you can mosh pit: this is all meditation. This is all part of the meditative experience.

Meditation means immersing ourselves in yoga. Yoga means connection with the Divine, connection with others, with our world. So this is the experience.

Maybe one tip I can give you.  What comes to mind is something I learned from my spiritual teacher, Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda. My spiritual teacher surfs. In his life he was brought up surfing as a form of health and fitness and to relax and have some fun. He did an interview that was published in Tracks magazine years ago and it was called Riding Transcendental Waves and in there he was explaining the connection or similarity between surfing and meditation. Not that surfing itself is meditation, but the similarity. He was using the example that when a surfer goes out for a surf he looks at the waves, he checks the breeze is it onshore, offshore, shore break, reef break, whatever. He picks a certain board and goes out and a good surfer will always be in harmony with the power or the momentum or the energy of the wave. So he wants to find that sweet spot in the wave where he’s simply being propelled. He’s not using his leg muscles to push himself along, he’s not trying to so-called rip the wave apart, but he hits that sweet spot and it is actually the energy of the wave which moves him along.

So when we’re riding transcendental waves, which is what these mantras are, we don’t need to squeeze the mind or do anything really difficult or onerous but actually the more we ease into it, the more we let go, the more we just let the mantras take us along, we’re actually then in harmony with the Supreme wave, so to speak. We’re in harmony with the Supreme through transcendental sound.  So as we’re singing kirtan, just let the mantras--these Holy Names--move us and we’ll have a very nice ride on these transcendental waves.