by guest author Premratna (Sarah Spence)
Over the last few years I have started to see the difference between the different levels that music can take me to.
After the hip hop, pop and theatre music of my teens and early adult years, I was relieved and excited to find a world of fun upbeat music that is spiritual in nature: kirtan and mantra came into my life.
I can liken my musical journey to a music pyramid (like the healthy food one).
I started at the wide bottom range of listening to music over the years; on the radio, singing in choirs.
The next level came as a surprise when I started to write music that came to me in flashes of inspiration.
It seemed incredible to me then that lyrics and music could appear in my head and through my fingers and end up as a song.
I found that the less my mind is involved and the more space there is in my life, the more the songs can flow – the more my inner voice can speak its truth; the more I have an excuse to verbalize the reassurance it wants to express.
The sound of these words makes me sit up and listen in times when inspiration is needed; music as a form of self-therapy. In fact, the inner voice tells me what I need to know, so maybe what comes out as a song is what I need to be reminded of over and over again.
The next level of the pyramid becomes more refined: kirtan (joyful chanting). Gentle meditative kirtan creates moments of bliss, while often practicing kirtan with mad, loud mridanga drums and rhythmic cymbals allows ‘me’ to step aside. It lets something else come through, I am a channel, yet ‘I’ watch myself.
When I mess up the harmonium melody or the guitar chords I realize my mind is following a thought. It is an exercise in concentration, and as per the yoga sutras, this leads to meditation. Kirtan is said to be the easiest path to transcend the mind – transforming emotions and leading into a heart centered space.
At the tip of the pyramid, Mantra seems to be a step up to the undefinable Divine, the place inside of pure peace. These sacred syllables, given to the rishis (seers) in ancient times past, carry intense vibrations. I ask myself, what does mantra mean to me? I can’t find words to describe mantra practice, and can only encourage self-exploration.
For me, these three types of music all play important parts in my life. Mantra is my solid connection to within, kirtan my dance of bliss and songwriting my connection to my inner self reminding me to go within. All are different forms of Nada (sound), and remind me in different ways of my own inherent divine nature.
Premratna is a part-time yoga teacher and yoga musician in Auckland. She is holding a ‘Sing your heart open’ event on Friday April 16 at 7:30pm at the Blockhouse Bay Boat Club, Endeavour St, Blockhouse Bay, Auckland. Inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org