Kirtan! Not your Typical Kind of Meditation

After a stressful or tiring week, one of the best things you can do for your mind and body is a little meditation. But if you’re like me, it’s hard to find a meditation class where your mind will quiet down for a little while. On a cool Friday evening, I walked down Montague Road to The Mantra Room to discover a whole new way to meditate.

The mediation that I was going to participate in is called Kirtan. And it is not your typical kind of meditation. Kirtan is a type of mediation through group chanting of Vedic mantras that are typically in the divine language of Sanskrit. Unlike other meditation, Kirtan allows you to sing, sway, dance and participate in the chanting. I discovered that Kirtan was less a personal journey that you undertook alone (which is what I have found in more traditional meditation styles) and more a collective experience that you share with the other people chanting alongside you.

The room was dimly lit, with an inner circle of low chairs surrounded by an outer horseshoe of chairs facing a microphone stand, drums and a guitar. As I took my shoes off and found a seat the musicians began warming up and practising. The music started at around 6pm, to a room of about 20 people. I wasn’t sure of the words of the chants, but the songs were repetitive and I found myself closing my eyes, swaying to the beat of the congas, and singing along. When I opened my eyes again I found that more people had arrived and the cacophony of voices was louder and more passionate. People kept trickling in until around 7pm when the band stopped for a break and dinner was brought out.

I looked around the group as volunteers handed out plates of salad, and cheese and spinach pie to everyone. People chatted in groups with each other as kids mucked around near the door. The group of people was incredibly diverse, comprised of multiple nationalities and ages. A few people introduced themselves to me and asked if it was my first time doing Kirtan. The whole group felt incredibly welcoming.

I spoke to Candace Earl who is a yoga teacher at the school in Nundah and she described the meditation as more of a full body and mind elation. We talked about how the chanting allows you to give yourself over to the music and replenishes your soul for the week ahead. She also spoke about the yoga classes at the school and I promised that I would come back to try one out. After the break the music started up again and most of the chairs were cleared out of the way for people to sway and dance.

The whole experience was incredibly interesting. I floated all the way home from the session and into a hot bath. I felt relaxed and calm, but it took me awhile to get some of those chants out of my head.

Kirtan is run every Friday evening from 6-8.00pm and on Sundays from 5-7.30pm and includes a delicious vegetarian meal. For more information about Kirtan and the other classes at the Australian School of Meditation & Yoga go to www.asm.org.au.

Georgia Lejeune Writer at West End Magazine