Meditation can take many forms. You can focus on your breath or focus on a candle. You can sit in one place with your eyes open or you can stand in one place with your eyes closed.
You can repeat a mantra or you can be silent. You can sing, you can dance, you can meditate on a Hershey’s Kiss and eat mindfully (see previous post -M is for Mindful Munching – Making the Most of a Moment of a Meal).
Simply put, meditation is taking time out to focus – on something, on anything – to the exclusion of everything else. To slow down one’s breath, shut off one’s thinking – paying attention to one thing and one thing only.
Hindu chanting, or Kirtan, is a singing meditation. Many different faiths use chanting to put the believers into a trance like state from repetition over and over of a sound. The sound of the mantra “Om Namah Shivaya,” which literally means “I bow to Shiva” or to one of the highest of the Hindu deities. Shiva also refers to the divinity within, and chanting this mantra is done to waken the highest that we might become.
This particular version of “Om Namah Shivaya” is being sung by Deva Premal. Others that I really like are sung by Donna De Lory or Krishna Das or sung during a Siddha Yoga event. All of them are soothing, soulful and life enriching! OOOMMMMM!
There are many ways to express yourself spiritually, many ways that include meditation or prayer or sacred dance. In India and throughout the world for those who follow Hindu beliefs, there is Kirtan. The Sanskrit word kirtan means “singing, chanting, and praising the Divine.” Kirtan, or joyful chanting, is so simple anyone can do it. The repetition of the music and mantras being sung bring one into an ecstatic trance which opens up the mind to be able to meditate more deeply.
Meditation doesn’t come easy to all of us. There are many of us who find that by being silent, we become even more aware of every sound and action around us, rather than becoming still. By repeating simple mantras over and over, faster and faster, the kirtan is an easy way for people to experience some freedom from the daily chatter of the mind. By allowing nothing into the mind but the sacred mantra, the mind becomes focused and undistracted and attuned to prayer.
The power of collective prayer is not singular to Hinduism. Even Jesus extolled the power of shared prayer – “When two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” By singing together in this mesmerizing fashion, we create a common trance-like vibrational frequency that raises the collective consciousness and increases the power of the prayer.
Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
Praise be to God in the Infinite form. Oh Lord, Supreme force, I offer myself unto You.
Jai Uttal (www.jaiuttal.com) and Krishna Das (www.krishnadas.com), two of the best kirtan singers.