by Laurie Stark

“What we talk about peace and love, it’s all mouth. But actually, it’s very hard to do it. I find it’s so much easier through musical notes…to reach the heart.”

~ Ravi Shankar

Kirtan, lighting mantra with music, is medicine. All can be comforted. It dissolves the exhaustive effect of skepticism and soothes the wounds of the day. When I feel anxious or small and singular, I sing and become expansive. Moved from irreverence to reverence, comforted by devotion and reconnected to the harmony within that can  sometimes get lost amid the noise of life, I’m put back together.  Whether a whisper or a wail, whatever comes up is what’s needed, there’s no wrong or right, no one style, no singer only song.

Harmonium played outside by an out of frame person.

In kirtan I found the ability to pray without questioning my words, without worrying about how to be good at it or do it correctly, about how to make a difference. Sing and there’s no me, no you, and in the oneness I’m free to seek peace as much for myself as I do for everyone else. I sing Aham Prema and I’m love, not the love of one but the love for and lover of all. No other form of prayer so quickly brings me home.

When I became ill and was being tended to by doctors, I sang quietly to myself, to keep myself strong and present. When I was home, on my own, I sang the same mantras and cried. I softened to all that I had experienced, surrendered to all I was feeling. No less strengthened I was tenderized and fortified.

Life adds and subtracts, adds and subtracts, no matter who we are, how we live, where  we’re from and what  we practice. Kirtan reminds me that I’m whole, no matter what, we’re always whole. Singing breathes life into every moment no matter how still or strangled it may feel before that first note.

There is love in the words and in the sounds of these words there’s a world to rest in.

There is love in the words and in the sounds of these words there’s a world to rest in.


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