The first time I’d ever experienced kirtan, I had no idea what it was. I remember the music tugging at my heart strings, blowing past all the layers of ego and armor I’d built over the years to become “less sensitive”, until I’d reached a fully ecstatic state…. and had my heart blown wide open.
I saw myself in everyone around me and felt this infinite unconditional love pouring forth. I’d felt safe, loved, protected and inspired in a way like I’d never been before. I had no words to describe it, other than that was closest I’ve ever come to experiencing heaven on earth. This was May 2011, during “Rainbow Spirit-fest” in Munich, Germany during a Satyaa and Pari concert.
Sure, I was familiar with mantras prior to this. First, there was kundalini yoga to the soundtrack of “mantra girl” back in 2004, when I’d first heard the chanting, something deep inside of me “clicked” and this inner knowing that “this is it”. Of course, to my then-boyfriend, who came home to find me chanting along with the dvd, I was speaking gibberish, and probably praising the devil.
A few years later, I knew I was onto something when wanting to pursue a yoga teacher’s training, I realized I was more interested in the mantras than the yoga. Then came Deva Premal and Miten, a band introduced to me by a friend in 2008, and I was instantly in love. Numerous concerts and workshops later, I knew mantras will stay with me for life. in 2010 I’d discovered the hauntingly beautiful music by Jai Uttal , shortly followed by Krishna Das. By the time I’d attended the festival in 2011, I knew I was hooked. When I couldn’t sleep at night, I’d listen to the soft Gyatri mantra on repeat for hours, when trying to get over depression or anxiety-Hanuman puja, when wanting to connect with myself-a deeply meditative and sweet prayer to Ganesh.
Lately, I cannot get enough of Paul Mitchell and the Hanuman Project (make a point to see them live in San Marcos, Guatemala or during the festival season on the West Coast) and the soothing, heart medicine songs of Jaya Saraswati (also from San Marcos), who’d just released their new album. Having had the privilege to hear both of them live, while living in San Marcos last year was truly a highlight of my year.