Cambridge Community Kirtan

Cambridge Community Kirtan

As our Community Kirtan program grows, we are touched and inspired by the photos, recordings and writings that come from the different communities. It is an honor to then share these with you. Below is from our Cambridge Community Kirtan and we hope you enjoy a small glimpse into what they are creating. If you want to learn more, visit our Community Kirtan page and click on the city of interest.     From the Cambridge Community Kirtan: A wonderful experience of collective singing of Bhajans was arranged by the Cambridge Community Kirtan on the warm Wednesday evening of Jun 21, 2017 at the Cambridge Swedenborg Chapel, Cambridge, MA. Excited devotees of Cambridge and surrounding areas gathered to sing Bhajans and mantras with well known devotional singers, Mr. Scott Hari Whitmore, Rachel, and Tom Lena. Tom Len welcomed warmly all the devotees and thanked them for attending the event with family and friends. Scott Hari Whitmore is taking the lead on organizing Kirtan evenings with Jennifer Canfield from the Call and Response foundation. International Yoga Day was celebrated by the devotees with Bhakti Yoga Bliss. Like Yoga, Collective chanting, is gaining interest in the United States. Kirtan format of chanting is a type of yoga in itself and has many of the mind-calming benefits of yoga. Kirtan has varying effects for different people, offers the possibility for the stillness of mind, without the struggle or striving to concentrate. Kirtan practice helps to focus the mind. By simply repeating mantras or words, you can release your mind from its daily chatter. For some, the practice has a powerful heart-opening effect...
Touching Lives through Community Chant

Touching Lives through Community Chant

Our Community Kirtan outreach program has been growing! Just this year we have included Houston, Montreal, Cambridge and West Cork Ireland. We are now running programs in 10 cities with plans to keep expanding. The stories and feedback we receive about how these chant events touch the lives of those who participate is both joyful and profound! If you are interested in reading more, we share some of these stories on our website in “Glimpses from our Community Kirtans across the country”. If this is the first time you are hearing about our program, please learn more on our website. If you know of a community or person that might be a good fit to host Community Kirtan, get in touch with us. We are excited to keep growing and share the practice of chant around the globe. Thanks for being a part of the Call and Response family. We hope to chant with you some time soon.   In Burlington, community members have learned more about the lifeline that a Kirtan can provide for those in need of connection. “I cannot explain kirtan but I know it needs to keep happening in our community. People need each other and need that space….kirtan keeps them going every week. Just that something that is there, no matter what else may not be, to gain so much from participating in the experience, knowing it will be there again and...
Devotional Music Therapy, Contemplative Vocal Music and the Passage

Devotional Music Therapy, Contemplative Vocal Music and the Passage

Devotional Music Therapy, Contemplative Vocal Music and the Passage Silvia Nakkach, M.A.,MMT Music Therapy within the Context of Yoga and Eastern Spirituality Death is absolute, transforming anyone who is in its presence. During the death process, we – the dying and the caregiver – move beyond the personal sense of self.  The essence of who we are naturally reveals itself, and we tap into a collective source of wisdom connected to the impermanence of the body and the strength of the human spirit. Drawing from indigenous practices as well as Western and Eastern spiritual perspectives on death and dying, this article presents a framework within which to consider the subtleties and modalities of implementing the voice, vocal music, and sound to accompany the death process. This approach is based on the premise that music therapy at the end of life can be enhanced by the insights of the philosophy and practice of yoga (first named around 1500 B.C). The word, yoga, denotes union, deriving from the Sanskrit root, yug, meaning to bind or yoke (Eliade, 4).  This union refers to the merging of divine consciousness with the human spirit. As an integral science for human development, yoga consists of a system of philosophical, physiological, spiritual and mystical practices (angas) that attempt to move one towards the state of unconditional liberation. Through various techniques and modalities, yoga teaches us to connect with the power and the light at our center, and that the path of enlightenment is a return to that source. Yoga may facilitate a profoundly supportive presence by the therapist when the idea of ‘liberation from conditions’ is integrated into...
Neuroscience and Meditation

Neuroscience and Meditation

Meditation has been extensively practiced in many civilizations for thousands of years as a means of cultivating a state of well-being and for religious purposes. It has now started to be studied in terms of its influence on the brain and body and used in clinical settings. Spiritual practices that aim at transcending the common state of consciousness can be found in human societies all over the world down to shamanic practices in the Paleolithic (Walter & Neumann Fridman, 2004; Winkelman, 2000). Formal references to meditation can be found in ancient texts as early as the third century BCE in the Buddhist wittings of the Abhidharma (Cox, 2004). Today, “meditation” is used as a generic term to refer to a wide range of practices for self-regulation of emotion and attention (Gunaratana, 2002) and is considered an inherently experiential practice present in most religious or philosophical traditions. Meditation generally involves focusing one’s attention on a particular physical or mental object. When mind wandering occurs, practitioners are instructed to bring their attention back to the meditative task. Meditation practices often involve altered states of consciousness although these typically only arise during intensive practices of several hours a day. Meditation practitioners often perform daily meditation for a period of time ranging from 15 minutes to several hours, with the goal of getting insight into the nature of their minds and the universe or reaching a state beyond the materialistic world and connecting with the infinite (or a divinity, depending on the meditation tradition). Based on the assumption that different conscious states are accompanied by different neurophysiological states, a neuroscientific approach to meditation...
The Yoga of Sound

The Yoga of Sound

by Russill Paul For thousands of years, Hindu spirituality has understood the profound effect that sound has on our well-being, an insight that western medicine is rapidly rediscovering today. In the treatment of Alzheimer’s, cancer, pre and post-surgical trauma, insomnia, and even the dissolving of kidney stones, overwhelming clinical studies have verified that the use of sound (particularly through chanting) can stabilize heart rate, reduce blood pressure, improve circulation, produce endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers), nourish DNA, and generate important proteins in body, such as, interleukin-1 and 2. Vocal chanting is particularly effective because the palate and the human ear function as blueprints for the body’s nervous system, much like the hand and foot in reflexology. Today, many of us are aware of how the body can be manipulated through pressure points on the hands and the foot – through massage as well as through acupressure and acupuncture. Now, take into consideration the 82 reflex points that are located in the palate: 60 on the hard palate and 22 on the soft palate. The tongue positions in the mouth, as well as the inflections of sounds caused by our speech and vocalizations, stimulate the meridians associated with these points and awaken dormant parts of the brain, thus bringing energy to various parts of the body. Sanskrit chanting is especially efficacious because it is a language constructed to stimulate a tremendous spectrum of energy and consciousness possible through speech. The rich phonetics employed in the language and the varying complexity of tongue placement stimulates a variety of energy frequencies. These “asanas (yoga postures) of the tongue,” have direct health benefits...

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