My path to chanting and kirtan began when I was a college student and attended a spiritual conference on rebirthing. One evening we sang “Om Namah Shivaya” for about thirty minutes. I was hooked.When I went back home, I sang that single chant by myself on my back porch for months! I never found anyone else who chanted back in Hampton, VA, but eventually I became involved in an organization that used a form of spoken chants as their central spiritual practice. The spoken chants were called decrees. I spent two to five hours a day practicing decrees for a decade.
More recently, I was involved with a small group who met twice a week to sing chants written by Yoganada for his American devotees. I realized that I wanted to go deeper into this spiritual practice and experience all different types of devotional singing, chanting and kirtan. Kirtan is chanting with others, sort of like doing yoga or other spiritual practices in a group.
Then I bought a harmonium and attended the Kirtan Leadership Institute in Boulder, Colorado for Level 1 and 2 training with Mike Cohen in 2017 and his Level 3 training in 2018. It was fantastic to meet other kirtan leaders, chant together, and learn from Mike’s extensive experience. Definitely a transformative process!
Now I’m fortunate to be playing regular kirtan events with my band Shakti Bliss. We have five highly talented members: Marius Michael-George on table and percussion; Leticia Iniguez on violin, cello, flute and voice; Andrew Karlsen on udu drum, voice and recorder; Mahima Giri on kartals and voice; and yours truly on voice and harmonium. We are starting to schedule events out of the local area, so let us know if you are interested in kirtan in your area!