Last night, I went to Ann Arbor Kirtan, a place to practice bhakti (devotional, love-based) yoga via call-and-response chanting. It’s a great place — you just sing whatever is sung to you. They have sheets of paper with translations of the Sanskrit chants. I have been going there for about three years now, sort-of off-and-on. Last night’s attendance was spurned by the Ayurvedic course. When learning about the different sheaths of consciousness (the physical body being the most dense, then energetic [prana], then mental/emotional, then causal/intuitive, then spiritual, then finally un-sheathed the Source), we were told that chanting is a good treatment for getting past the physical, energetic and mental/emotional bodies, and into the causal/intuitive. This makes sense to me, as in singing in a large group, absorbing the beautiful sound vibrations, the mind does in fact “lose” itself, and even the body just begins moving for me in a natural response to the bhakti practice.
I also spoke afterward with Dr. Dennis Chernin, who is an organizer of Ann Arbor Kirtan group. I have shadowed him once in the capacity of being a pre-med student, and he’s also been a source of inspiration-at-a-distance, simply knowing that he has been able to integrate spiritual practices, complementary medicine, and Western medicine into his practice. I’m looking forward to connecting more with him, hopefully, in the future.