The car and the bathroom -- those are my go tos. When I want to let loose and belt out a tune, I typically do so in one of those two places. Yes, I'm the car and bathroom singer. Some years ago I branched out and started attending kirtans. I felt like a child discovering a new toy -- giddy with excitement coming back to the toy again and again. Thus my kirtan habit was born. From there I dove into chanting. I honed my Sanskrit and chanted the Yoga Sutras. Somewhere around that time I also began to use sound in my yoga practice. I'd chant simple mantras on the exhale (my favorite became Namaha).
All of this sending sound to the outside made me more aware of the sound inside -- my heartbeat, the breath swooshing in and out of my nostrils. I became sensitized to the vibrations in my body whenever I chanted mantras during my yoga practice. Frankly, it made me feel goooood.
It would seem that science backs this up. This article is about singing in a choir but it applies here too . Yes, that explains it -- endorphins. And, if this article is any indication, all of those kirtans I've attended -- and continue to attend -- provide a sweet little hit of oxytocin. Like I said -- it makes me feel goooooood.
That must be the reason for all of those chanting festival invites that hit my inbox on a regular basis. Why keep it limited to the car and bathroom when you can join a bunch of other folks desiring a boost in oxytocin and soak up the collective vibration? If you can't get yourself to a festival or a kirtan, there's a new Web site devoted to kirtan lovers -- Bhakti Breakfast Club (yes, if you grew up in the 80s like I did, this name makes you smile and conjures up the word "sweets" in your head). The site is an online learning center that helps participants learn the harmonium, deepen their relationship to various mantras and sing sacred chants. Yes, it's a veritable endorphin-fest!
So my advice to you is to sing your music. If you're a car and bathroom person like me, try taking it onto your mat. Attend a kirtanfest. Learn how to chant. Join a choir. Check out the Bhakti Breakfast Club. Whatever gets those endorphins flowing. And here's a fun little chant for what I wish for you: