Kirtan—singing the many names or mantras of the Divine—is perhaps the most important technique in Bhakti yoga (the path of devotion). Although the practice itself is very simple, the internal process that it stimulates is vast and mysterious.
Externally, we’re just singing repetitive songs with simple melodies and a few Sanskrit words. We’re asked to try to put our analytical minds to the side (easier said than done), and sing from our hearts. We’re told that whatever emotion we’re feeling, even anger, can be passionately channeled into song. We’re told that it doesn’t matter the slightest bit what our voices sound like.
Then the magic happens. Walls constructed long ago come crumbling down. Wounds that we never knew were there begin to heal. Long submerged emotions, both joy and sorrow, come to the surface to be offered up into the chant. And somehow, effortlessly, we move into a meditative state that creates a safe, calm haven for the flower of the heart to unfold.
Whether or not we understand the meanings of the words, these chants become vessels to carry our deepest unspoken prayers to the infinite soul of God.