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Shana Chant Leader

Chanting to the Open Heart with Shana Smith

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Monthly Self Meditation
(The first full weekend of every month, Wed. - Sun.)
Immerse in your personal practice for a few hours or the entire weekend. Meditation guidance available.

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Imagine a clear, deep, refreshing pool.  It is your True Self, free of suffering, peaceful, vibrant, and alive in awareness and connection to all things.  Now jump in.

As simple as this sounds, most people are too attached, by habit, to what Eckhart Tolle refers to as their “pain body,” a part of the human condition in which fear and ego lead us to misinterpretation and, hence, misguided actions.  Therefore, very few people are jumping in the pool, even if it’s their true calling.  They are too busy milling around it, worried about what might happen if something goes wrong, wondering if other people are going to do it better than them, and so on.

Those seeking True Self are often aware of this disconnect, and are seeking ways to let go of fear and just jump in.  The spiritual path has a number of essential tools to take us there, such as meditation, yoga, and chanting.  While they are three very different practices outwardly, inwardly they achieve the same state of connection and awareness in the present moment.  When one is able to become more aware of the thinking be present with Awareness, one’s True Self takes over.

Chanting is a form of connection that has existed for thousands of years in many cultures worldwide.  Kirtan is a well-known form of chanting to most yogis, but the practice of repeating sacred mantras as a vehicle for transformation is universal.  There are sacred chants in Sanskrit, English, American Indian, Tibetan, Hebrew, and Hawaiian, to name only a few.  All that is required to understand them is an open heart.

There are several forms of chanting, the most common being call-and-response.  There is also a form in which the kirtan walla, or chant facilitator, guides the chants and “nudges” the increasing energy of them while everyone chants together.  As a chant facilitator, the latter allows me to more effectively feel the collective energy in the room and connect to it. 

Chanting helps to deepen our connection with our inner life or energy, and feel and express our True Being.  It’s NOT singing.  It’s about opening your heart, feeling your energy body, and witnessing the experience of this very moment.

The chants begin softly, then build gradually.  The amount of build depends largely on the collective energy in the room.  Each chant is a repetition of only a few lines of devotional, high-energy words.  After an extended period, there is usually a quick decrescendo as we become silent once again.  During the silence between chants, it’s important to keep an inward focus. 

As you hear the chants, observe what is happening in yourself.  You may wish to simply listen and deepen your meditation silently.  You may wish to hum softly.  You may feel your voice and spirit soaring, you may feel like clapping or playing an instrument; you may feel like getting up and dancing! Let your true nature grow naturally within you.  Check in with yourself.  Is your self-conscious ego, your “pain body,” blocking your experience?   Are you concerned about if others are judging you, if you are “singing” well enough, etc.?  Let these thoughts go.  We are here to jump in the pool fearlessly and exuberantly.  Let the energy of Source transport you there. There are no rules.  When you chant with abandon, you discover that this moment is just you and Spirit.    Om Shanti!


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