Sometimes there are things that I’m thinking or feeling or dreaming that just can’t be communicated with words. Does that ever happen for you? Like those dreams that stir me awake, but I can’t write them in my dream journal because there’s really no plot or setting or characters, just a sort of indescribable awareness. Or a feeling that arises that presents an odd combination of emotions, like an uplifting sadness or a poignant fey anger – see, just trying to write them down here isn’t really capturing them at all.
The other night BlackLion and I went to a kirtan at a local yoga studio. I’ve been to kirtan events there before, and the organizers are just amazing. The event is woven together with storytelling – Hindu myths and personal insights and yogic quotes – in between the uplifting energy-filled chants. We brought along our drums this time. The theme was a celebration of Shiva, in honor of the upcoming festival Maha Shivaratri, or The Great Night of Lord Shiva. Shiva is the god of cosmic destruction and rebirth. We chanted to him and I joined in the drumming.
It was a powerfully transformative night. Without words, I was able to go deeply into the moment and experience the energies of the music. The chants do have words, but as they’re in Sanskrit, I can easily just dive into the sounds. Much of the time, I was absorbed in the drumming and forgot to chant, anyway. I’d find myself just smiling and drumming, riding the waves of the music.
I recently learned that it’s the long vowel sounds in chanting that bring us into an altered state of consciousness, changing our brain waves. It makes sense. When we enter fully into music, we transcend the normal chatter of the mind, and get into a meditative flow. In that space beyond words, I can feel the harmony of my spirit with the universe. I can understand the creativity that arises and seeks expression. I might even be able to bring some of it back into my writing and art, if I use just the right combination of delighted detachment and musing dreaminess.