Vocalist, voice teacher and Kirtan Leader Institute instructor Dawnia Dresser has a beautiful way of describing the difference between singing and sacred chant.
1. The External Loop
Dawnia has been singing since age 5. Before discovering Kirtan she would sing to people, and they would respond to her singing. If her audience responded in a way that left her feeling appreciated, she would feel happy and filled up. If not, she would feel empty and disappointed. Dawnia calls this the external loop, and in fact it’s both horizontal and outer… the loop between her and others. We sing to others and hope their feedback will fill us up. This is the “them” loop.
2. The Internal Loop
The second loop is more common in Kirtan. This is when you close your eyes and connect with your own internal experience. This is the “me” loop.
3. The Divine Loop
What Dawnia discovered through her Kirtan practice is what she calls the Divine/Vertical loop. She discovered that when chanting she can loop in with the Divine through the mantra (the vertical loop), which leaves her feeling full and connected with something greater. She is then able to chant to/with others from a place of connection and fullness. Others receive Dawnia’s singing and respond as they do, without impacting her one way or the other. She is already connected and full, so not dependent on how others respond to fill her up. Nice, yes?!
This story invites the following reflections: