The Learn to Lead Kirtan Foundation Training is back this Autumn now in its 4th year and it would be year five were but for Covid!
This past year has given me the opportunity to reflect on the training and all the high points for the whole team and graduate students over the years.
The unanimous memory at the end of each training is the sense of having been a tribe or bhakti family setting off on an intrepid voyage together on a ship that starts from a calm harbour, traverses through ever-changing seas and storms with seldom a dull moment and arrives at a destination where everyone feels that they have come home to bliss!
I ask myself “What is that ingredient that creates that experience?” My conclusion is that at the onset we make a clear intention to journey together as One and not as a bunch of individuals. The Divine glue that keeps us all together is the mantras that we chant with full devotion from the moment of departure to the moment we arrive at the end of training destination. Over a 2 1/2 month period each budding kirtan leader deepens their connection with the practice and embraces the fearless step of being a conduit to allow the grace of the chants to flow through them without feeling inhibited or constrained. The powerful sense of being witnessed by other travellers and being supported as they face their fears, tears and joy as the priomordial sound starts to immerge from deep within them is both moving to behold and profound.
It is one thing to chant at home in your own room or on a car journey or to chant in a crowd at a kirtan festival but another to suddenly have your voice heard as the instrument through which the lead of the chant flows. Being witnessed by the group each step of the way is transformational for everyone and it takes courage to be heard in the ‘naked voice’ as my friend and once teacher Chloe Goodchild says.
Many who approach the course think that they will spend hours and hours studying harmonium which naturally is an intrinsic part of leading kirtan. Of course, we do that but, at the end of the training, graduates are amazed to discover how many more vital and subtle elements there are to leading.
The one element that students recall time and time again as being the most uncomfortable yet transformational element of the training is the 2 full days we spend in ‘Mastery of the Inner Critic’. This is a workshop that I have facilitated not only on this training but as a guest teacher on Yoga teacher trainings. The one aspect that can hold us back in life is disruption from those voices in our head that say “you are not good enough”, “your voice is flat”, “they don’t like me” and on it goes! Many would say “surely all you need in kirtan leading is to sing with devotion, right?” Yes, absolutely right until……. 20, 30, 50, or 100 people enter the space to chant with you. Then the inner voice starts with its endless chattering commentary in our heads causing a constraining sense of ‘me and you’ rather than the freedom of unity and Oneness.
As we approach the ‘Mastery of the Critic’ sequence students are naturally afraid of being exposed or found out! However, as they slowly begin to discover that their inner critic can be their greatest ally and champion they experience a massive release. They feel freshly empowered to drop their concerns and to surrender fully to the bliss of leading the practice. In truth, they come to realise that the shakti or divine universal energy is leading through them. Months later graduates email and say ‘thank God Nikki,, that we did the inner critic work. I now get it. I couldn’t have led that kirtan the other day without that work we did together.`
The ultimate promise of this enriching training is one where not only are you given all the practical tools you require both musically and technically for leading kirtan but, far beyond that, is the gift of your own vocal empowerment and transformation.
Click here or watch the short video below to find out more about how to apply for one of the limited places for the next Learn to Lead Foundation Training. I do hope that you will consider joining us.