I’ve just returned from a spectacular weekend of chanting with Dave Stringer at BodyMindLife in Sydney. I attended Dave’s Kirtan Flight School (see photo) because I’m setting up a kirtan group in Brisbane and wanted to learn from a master teacher. 2017 update: I ran a kirtan group but it’s on hold while I raise two babies (!!)
Here’s feedback from Dave: “Your blog is awesome Sarah! Thanks so much! Your breakthrough was one of the highlights of the weekend. Big love, Dave.” Aw! I feel blessed.
Dave is a 36/9 Old Soul lifepath in numerology and knows so much about his craft – I recommend his work whole-heartedly. Find your lifepath
Hear me chanting Govinda Jaya Jaya on SoundCloud with the amazing class from Flight School. It’s my debut!
Flight School was one of the most uplifting workshops I’ve attended – imagine 20 people singing & jamming on keyboard, guitar, harmonium, flute and percussion for three days straight…it was wild! We split into smaller groups and performed every night, which was a trial by fire.
There was a good mix of seasoned musicians and total newbies. I was somewhere in the middle as I’ve played piano since I was four and sang jazz and choir at school. I specifically went to Dave’s event because I’d seen him play live and he’s humble and funny. He used to volunteer teaching meditation in prisons and is both super talented and compassionate.
The first day we played as a group I cried a lot. I’ve always felt isolated playing piano, because it’s not the most social instrument. I stopped lessons at 15 because I hated being criticised in exams. If you’ve read The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother you might remember the girl who bit her piano in frustration at her strict upbringing. That could have been me! So I had to let go of pent up grief before I could be present in the workshop.
Right from the beginning, I was amazed by the kindness of Dave, Alli, Doug and the students. Dave worked with every person one on one to strengthen their musicality. I watched him patiently move someone’s fingers over their flute so they could ‘feel’ the tune. Alli (Dave’s niece) helped us to develop beautiful, goose-bump inducing harmonies and Doug was just the most freakishly co-ordinated person I’d ever seen (he can play drums while singing and playing khartal cymbals in three different rhythms).
One of the yoga teachers, Kat, brought me a full-size keyboard on the second day, after lugging it by herself up the lift. Another attendee, Robby, shouted us dinner. And I lost count of how many people complimented me on leading my first group chant. If only the whole world was this united; we might actually live in peace.
By the conclusion of the workshop I felt free – like years of insecurity had been replaced with a quiet happiness that will never leave. My faith in humans had been reset and I felt really nourished. I’m guessing that my Girdle of Venus draws me to spiritual experiences like kirtan, because I’m very sensitive to sound healing and ‘vibes’.
If you have a Girdle as well you should definitely check out kirtan and other mind-body-spirit modalities like kundalini yoga.
I have been a fan of chanting groups like satsang and kirtan for years (see my profiles for Deva Premal etc).Regular singing is great for stamina and has given me the energy I need to do psychic readings, day in, day out. It’s also improved my skin and digestion (must be all that deep breathing and being happy! Chanters definitely look younger than their years.)
Going from science to Holistic counselling, palmistry and numerology has not been easy. However I’m glad that I followed my instincts, because my priority as a lifepath 11 has always been to act with courage. Find your lifepath
As an aside, I believe that the purity of your singing voice reflects your trust and intuition. To successfully fulfil your life purpose, you must be ‘in tune’ with your inner nature.That’s why I wince when I hear people say ‘I hate my voice’, or ‘I can’t sing at all’. I feel like giving them a hug and then a good shake, to get them out of their heads and back into their hearts. After all, your voice reveals your internal clarity. Someone who accepts themselves acts as a cosmic flute. Their voice has a sweet tone, whether it’s in perfect pitch or not. Someone in conflict often has a wobble to their words, which gives away their insecurity.
Honouring your intuition (through meditation, chanting or journalling) is vital to inner peace. If you won’t listen to yourself, no one else will either. As Dave said at Flight School, happiness is something you need to cultivate. Singing is one of the best ways to increase your bliss. This is the intention behind kirtan, or devotional chanting – the repetition of Sanskrit mantras occupies your mind while freeing your soul. It takes me about 5-10 minutes of chanting to reach the euphoria I get from an hour of exercise.
Kirtans often take place in yoga studios, because yoga and kirtan are closely connected. The asana poses were created to help people develop the flexibility to sit while they meditated or chanted. So if you have trouble meditating, make sure you have stretched your body first!Most modern kirtans are non-denominational and welcome people of all backgrounds. Some are associated with religious groups so it pays to check out the organisers before you tag along.
Some followup links are:
Dave Stringer’s website (he tours Australia annually) Dave Stringer’s facebook page
Video of Dave at Bhakti Fest (also see here)
Australian Yoga Journal article on the benefits of kirtan
Other musicians I recommend
See my Youtube playlist
Deva Premal & Miten
Edo & Jo
Australian Kirtan Groups
Adelaide Kirtan – Contact David at Nunkeri Yoga/ on facebook
Brisbane Kirtan – see Rob Stevenson’s SpiritSong
Canberra Kirtan – see their facebook page
Melbourne Kirtan – Chant Yoga with Chakradhyan (I went to his retreat and loved it! He’s a wonderful musician. Alli sometimes runs kirtans at this venue.)
Sydney Kirtan – Vanessa Forbes