*”Spirit-sizing” is an inspired process practiced by Souls Journey. Any run-of-the-mill secular song may be “spirit-sized” for uplifting value, and enjoyable spiritual texture. For example, a creative spark in this newly discovered tradition transformed “Home Home on the Range” into “Om, Om on my Mind.”
New American Gospel
This newly found tradition is inspired by classic, old timey gospel tunes such as Will the Circle Be Unbroken and I’ll Fly Away. Any standard gospel can be revised to open the original words into a universal expression of Spirit. In this tradition, I’ll Fly Away becomes I’m Here Today which affirms the power of being here now in the Divine moment. You can hear our New American Gospel version of Will the Circle Be Unbroken in the recording posted on our home page.
This is a phrase we’ve learned from one of our most respected musical mentors, Doug Von Koss, who created the Noah Project. Doug’s inimitable style of guiding people to sing together with full heart and adventurous harmony is informed by this philosophy. After sharing a powerful singing experience with the group, Doug often asks, “Well, did anyone get hurt?” For more information about the Noah Project and to hear the Noah Project in action, click on the following link: http://www.dougvonkoss.com/
In the spirit of Oneness, this process entails the blending of two or more sacred songs or chants from different world faith traditions to create an eclectic spiritual music experience. One of our personal favorites in this mode is Do Lord/ Hare Krishna. We invite you to try this out for yourselves and enjoy the expansiveness this can lead your soul to.
Most modern kiirtan devotees in the West repeat a Hindu chant or phrase which invokes joy, peace and healing. While the bhajan portion of kiirtan, as practiced by Souls Journey, is connected to this ancient tradition in both devotion and purpose, it is achieved through a different musical approach. Instead of the traditional call and response, everyone sings together in unison, using provided songbooks. The most unique virtue of the Souls Journey kiirtan experience is that we actively embrace spiritual diversity. We combine spiritual songs and chants from multiple traditions and languages of both the East and the West, including Hindu chants, Gospel, “Spirit-Sized” secular pieces, earth-based spiritual songs, Dances of Universal Peace, the grand oral tradition, and Spirit Play (celebrating the inner child). It is a veritable joy-fest devoted to uplifting the spirit for everyone.
One of the co-founders of our group, Marshal, has practiced kiirtan for many years the way he learned it, as a member of Ananda Marga Yoga Society. In that tradition, the actual kiirtan is a way of aligning everyone through the power of sangachadwam (Sanskrit word meaning “let us move together”) by using a specific chant and a dance-like movement – as we open to our own higher nature and sync with the group in preparation for group meditation. “Baba Nam Kevalam” is a spiritual chant, or kiirtan – which means “Everything is a manifestation of one supreme consciousness”, or, more simply, “Love is all there is.” This Sanskrit phrase brings joy, peace and healing. The movement that goes with it stimulates the pineal gland which helps prepare for a deeper meditative experience in the following group meditation, as it synchronizes the group’s intention. We end the meditation with a final chant. If you want to learn about the kiirtan dance from the Ananda Marga tradition, you may want to check out this video.
A Bhajan is a form of devotional chanting or singing whose roots go back over 500 years to India. It has no fixed form: it may be as simple as a mantra or kiirtan or as sophisticated as the dhrupad or kriti with music based on classical ragas and talas. It is normally lyrical, expressing love for the Divine. It is a way to open one’s heart to the Divine. The singing is traditionally accompanied by musical instruments and drumming, and the audience is encouraged to participate through an age-old call and response style, repeating directed chants. This may also include clapping and dancing.
Dances of Universal Peace
One of the main roots of inspiration for Souls Journey are the Dances of Universal Peace. Before Dena and Marshal even met, they had experienced the spiritual power of the dances. Marshal experienced it back in the early ’70s while living in Denver, CO when it was still called Sufi dancing. Dena came across the Dances of Universal Peace while in Kauai in the early ’90s.
The Dances of Universal Peace are a combination of sacred song and movement that celebrate Spirit as expressed in many world spiritual traditions. To see and hear examples of the dances, you may wish to watch the following video. For more information about the dances, please click on the following link: http://www.dancesofuniversalpeacena.org