Solace in song

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I remember as a kid feeling most free while I was singing. Most of us know the feeling, like being transported to a place where time stands still, being lost and found in the same moment. It’s one of humankind’s oldest remedies, the solace of song.

I’ve only recently chosen to own the identity of musician. After a decade of playing covers on my guitar alone in my bedroom, I’ve pushed myself to shed shyness and share this space of deep pleasure and enrapture with other people.

About 8 years ago I was beginning to immerse myself in yoga practice, taking a teacher training program and spending most of my free time in the studio. There was a harmonium there, which I was drawn to and began playing immediately, chanting along with mantras.

The simplicity of the practice attracted me at first. I could hold a couple chords on the harmonium, and chant “om namah shivaya” or another simple mantra, and get into a trance-like state. I also loved the communal practice of chanting call-and-response (kirtan). For me it served as a midwife between playing alone in a room and performing. It’s not meant to be a performance, but a spiritual practice where all involved can go deeper into their own experience.

I’ve kept up this practice over the years, writing my own melodies and leading kirtan regularly. For the last 3 years I’ve been involved with the New Shul, where we chant in Hebrew in addition to traditional Hindu and Buddhist mantras. This has helped me integrate my own lineage (I’m Jewish) with my affinity for eastern wisdom traditions. It’s been a deeply rewarding experience chanting with people of all ages for our regular “family kirtan”.

I began offering soundbaths that integrate mantra and original music over the past 2 years. The experience has helped me grow into my capacity to hold space and has felt like a self-initiation as an artist and healer, as I think of these events as part healing ceremony and performance art.