For most mantras translated on this website, I can link you to a recording of a Kirtan song for that mantra. Usually the whole song, or otherwise a sample. Then my webpage discusses the meaning of the mantra, and how this meaning can be linked to the philosophy that is foundational to Sanskrit mantra.
Such discussion is a kind of study. It feeds the thinking mind with ideas that can help understand what spiritual practise actually is. Discussion is not meditation. In fact, the consciousness that we use in study and learning, is quite opposite to the consciousness of meditation. More importantly, the two are not compatible with each other. So it’s best to do either one or the other. Not try to do both at the same time.
Yet this Kirtan music is best used as a meditation, as a music meditation. What do I mean by “music meditation?”
In music meditation, music is used quite differently. It is not a mere background sound, while we get on with some other pursuit, be it therapy, Yoga class, house work, or walking. Nor do we use the music the way it is often used in a meditation class : as a background while the teacher talks you thru a guided visualisation, or a clench-then-relax exercise.
In music meditation, we put all our attention onto the music. It becomes the center of our attention. We treat the music like an expensive concert performance. Try not to miss any part of it.
In music meditation, the sound of the music becomes the meditation object. The dynamics of music, notes, tempo, rhythm, melody and harmony, the run of notes, accent and subtlety. Look for all the subtle nuances that a professional musician adds to their performance, to transform it from mere sounds into real music that people will pay money for.
More precisely, look for the beauty in the music. Try to recognise this, and be open to it. Instead of just judging the music as “I like it,” or “I don’t like it.” Try to transcend from mere opinions about the music. This is essential to music appreciation, and the enjoyment of music. This beauty is the key that unlocks the door into another world in music. The world of being absorbed into the music, and leaving the troubles of the world behind.
This is how music can be used as a meditation. We use the details of the music as the anchor point of our meditation. We use the beauty of the music to draw us deeper into the meditation. And the deeper the meditation, the deeper the enjoyment. The deeper the meditation, the more we can transcend the busy-ness of thinking, transcend the thought-driven sense of self.
I always use Kirtan music in my music meditation, for they are sacred songs. The lyrics can be a succinct poetry conveying some theme of Dharma, that we can apply in daily life. Reminding us of important Principles.
Kirtan is participatory. People have been singing these sacred songs for thousands of years, in devotional setting, and we can connect with this powerful energy when we join in.
More importantly, when we can sing along to the songs, then we can participate far more in the meditation. As a meditation, we focus on the sound of the words, and how it really feels to properly articulate them.
I offer music meditation, because the mind wanders so much in breath meditation. Music meditation has become one of my favourite meditations these days.
But music meditation does not really train the mind in the skill of mediation. We really need the quiet of breath meditation or Nature meditation to really learn about how the mind wanders, how much trouble this can cause us, and how important it is to train the mind to step out of unnecessary and unhelpful thought.