Mantras and the Breath of Life

The lungs are an ideal container for the breath and the production of sound. Breathing takes a unique combination of strength and relaxation. As you breath in, the alveoli—clusters of tiny “balloons” at the end of the branches of your airways—are filled and expanded. As you breathe out, the “balloons” relax. The capacity of the lungs can be increased in several ways, including the singing of mantras and singing in general. The diaphragm (below the lungs) and the intercostal muscles (between the ribs) play a key role in singing and breathing. As you expand your lungs to breathe deeply for … Continue reading

Kirtan at the Garden of 1,000 Buddhas

We are just back from the 15th Annual Peace Festival at the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, Montana. The theme was “Wisdom for Modern Times” and the program included speakers and musicians from multiple cultures as well as the consecration of the new Peace Pavilion by Rev. Paul Armstrong and Stephen Small Salmon. Shakti Bliss Kirtan was very happy to be included in the celebration. Although the prediction was 100% chance of rain, fortunately the skies held back until the entire day was done. Great to meet people from all over Montana and Idaho and places as far … Continue reading

Ready to Record an Album!

We are ready to record our first album! Participants include Kathleen Karlsen (vocals, harmonium),  Andrew Karlsen (vocals, udu drum), Paul Bohak (vocal, bass, guitar) and Mahima Giri (vocals, kartals). What is kirtan? Kirtan is a style of music focused on participatory chanting. Chanting produces a calorie-free, drug-free, full body buzz! Group singing changes the chemistry of the brain and dissipates feelings of isolation and depression.  Chanting is a form of meditation, a type of mantra yoga. No postures required. We emphasize singable chants from multiple traditions that are easy to learn, help to focus the mind, and foster a connection with others … Continue reading

Chanting is Half the Battle

The old mansion in Chestnut Hills was three stories high, including an attic apartment. There were thirteen rooms for rent. I was in my early twenties and new in town with very little experience living on my own. I responded to an ad, rented a room and started a job in a restaurant downtown. Shortly after settling in, I found a spiritual organization that appealed deeply to me. I began attending regular study groups and services. This particular path was going to be a central influence on my soul’s journey for decades to come. My association with the group was … Continue reading

Science to Passion with Chanting

I was taking a swing dance class a few years ago and repeating the same spins over and over for a full hour.  Suddenly I felt a rushing sense like a fire ignited at the base of my spine, filling my pelvis and beginning to move upwards. I had never experienced that kind of thing before but I knew it had something to do with the kundalini. I had no clue what would happen next. I was panicked about being in a public place. “No!” I thought, “Not here! Not now!” Suddenly the experience was over. I walked to the … Continue reading

The Positive Effects of Chanting

kirtan chanting

The effects of chanting can be a positive influence on the body and mind. When vowels and consonants are put together, chanting emphasizing certain sounds can be constructed to have unique effects on the singer. Mantras that may actually be formulated to influence various body systems. For example, the combination “aha” (A HA!) stimulates the hormonal system to improve the functioning of the body. Interestingly, this ejaculation is used in English when a sudden solution or insight is gained: Indeed! I got it! Certainly! Definitely! That’s it! The effect of using “a ha!” is similar to laughter therapy and relieves stress and depression. The … Continue reading

Chanting Around the World

Chanting, group song, and devotional singing has been a part of every world culture and religion for uncounted ages. In Catholicism, the Mass was chanted for hundreds of years in Latin. The text for Jewish rituals were sung by the rabbi. Muslims as well as many others chant aloud daily. As it turns out, group singing may be a better cure for depression than therapy or medication. (Learn more in the Time magazine article Singing Changes Your Brain.) Jewish mystics also practiced melodic vocalizations without words and recognized the power in the emotional element of sung versus spoken words. Kabbalists … Continue reading