BY GANGA MA
Strong or soft, wild or serene —
Wherever breath flows there is song
Hear its whisper touching behind the face
Singing in the throat,
Dancing spirals in the sanctuary of your heart.
-Radiance Sutras ~ Lorin Roche
Spiritual traditions from all over the world have always known the power that lies in the vibration of voice. Since the beginning of time people have been using songs in temples, churches and caves to give extra power to their ceremonies and practices. Think of the passionate Sufi chants, the beautiful choir music of Christianity and the rhythmic chants of the Native Americans.
As yogis we can tap into a very rich and alive tradition of mantra chanting and kirtan singing. A vast array of sacred chants that all have a very specific effect on our being is available to support us on our awakening journey. The sounds of Sanskrit — the language of the gods — are connected to energy centers in the body, and with chanting these centers get activated. In this way we cleanse and energize our system. Singing the names of the different Gods and Goddesses invokes the qualities they represent and invites their presence into your life.
I always remind my students that chanting is not about beauty. It does not matter how your voice sounds. Just as you do not need a flexible, strong and healthy body to practice asana you do not need a perfect voice to chant a mantra or sing kirtan. It does not even matter if you feel shy or confident. What matters is if you have the courage to give yourself to the divine. What matters is that you open your heart and know that for the divine all is beauty.
Unfortunately many people that I meet in my kirtan gatherings tell me they are afraid to sing. The reason is often lies in a childhood experience. One negative comment to a child about the way it sings can destroy the confidence and joy to sing for a lifetime. To sing is something very intimate. When we sing we allow ourselves to be seen, we reveal our hearts to the ones that are listening. It is impossible to hide ourselves when we sing, we stand with a naked heart. This is why it is so painful when our willingness to show ourselves through singing is being answered with a negative comment. To loud, to soft, out of tune…
But there is a more subtle reason for insecurity about our voice. In the same way as photos of fashion models are being photo shopped to match an idealized standard that no human-being can possibly meet, today’s music is being is being digitally altered. The voices we hear in modern music are being polished to such a degree that it sets a standard that none of us can live up to. It is very subtle, but I really feel this makes most of us more insecure about our own voice. We seem to collectively forget that the beauty of a voice lies in the beauty and surrender of the heart.
The practice of chanting can help us remember the beauty in every voice. Yes, also in yours. Chanting is about using your voice to give expression to your longing and love for the divine. And in this way you can establish a more intimate relationship with God and you will discover that God’s ears don’t hear the sound of your voice. God only hears the sound of your heart, she hears your willingness and longing to open up to the divine.
Ganga Ma is a nomadic mantra singer, yoga teacher and jewellery designer. She finds great joy in sharing sacred chants with people from all over the world and nothing is as sweet to her as hearing all these many voices melting together as one big stream of love. www.soulfulsilence.com . You can connect with her on Facebook and follow her on Instagram.