How To Practice Kirtan Kriya

Sa Ta Na Ma Meditation

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Desy, Phylameana lila. "How To Practice Kirtan Kriya." ThoughtCo, Sep. 25, 2017, thoughtco.com/kirtan-kriya-1729281. Desy, Phylameana lila. (2017, September 25). How To Practice Kirtan Kriya. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/kirtan-kriya-1729281 Desy, Phylameana lila. "How To Practice Kirtan Kriya." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/kirtan-kriya-1729281 (accessed September 26, 2017).
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Kirtan Kriya is a meditation chant exercise originating from India and was likely first utilized in the practice of kundalini yoga. Kirtan meditation practice involves a combination of chanting a simple mantra that consists of ancient sounds while using repetitive finger poses or mudras. This simple meditative exercise reduces stress levels, increases circulation in the brain, promotes focus and clarity, and stimulates mind-body-spirit connection.

This meditative practice is easier than breathing. By the way, breathing correctly is actually not as easy as one might imagine. Regardless, once you get the hang of kirtan, you will discover what a breeze it is to do.

Use as a Daily Ritual or Random Tool for Quieting the Mind

Making it a daily practice is highly recommended. And the best part is that you can practice kirtan for as little as 10-12 minutes each day.  However, even if you choose not to adopt kirtan as a daily ritual it is still a tool to keep readily at hand. It is a quick way to quiet the mind whenever it is in overdrive. 

Birth - Life - Death - Rebirth

The four Sanskrit chanting sounds used in kirtan (Sa Ta Na Ma) translates to birth, life, death, and rebirth.

Here's How You Begin Your Kirtan Kriya Session

Begin your session by sitting cross-legged on the floor or seated upright in a straight-backed chair. Rest your hands on your knees with palms facing upwards.

  1. Chant the syllables Sa, Ta, Na, Ma - lengthen the ending of each sound as you repeat them, ... ah. 
  2. Touch your index fingertip to the tip of your thumb as you chant Sa(ah).
  3. Touch your middle fingertip to the tip of your thumb as you chant Ta(ah).
  4. Touch your ring fingertip to the tip of your thumb as you chant Na(ah).
  1. Touch your pinky tip to the tip of your thumb as you chant Ma(ah).
  2. Do the finger movements as shown in steps 3-6 as you chant in the following sequence:
     
    • Chant Sa, Ta, Na, Ma out loud for 2 minutes
    • Chant Sa, Ta, Na, Ma in a whisper for 2 minutes
    • Chant Sa, Ta, Na, Ma in silence for 4 minutes
    • Chant Sa, Ta, Na, Ma in a whisper for 2 minutes
    • Chant Sa, Ta, Na, Ma out loud for 2 minutes

Helpful Tips

  1. The ah sound is the same as what the doctor asks you to make as she inserts the tongue depressor into your mouth during your exam.
  2. If you decide to make this meditation a daily routine it is most beneficial to repeat this chant at the same time each day.
  3. Kundalini yoga is specifically directed towards awakening the life force through complex sets of exercises, breathing, and the use of mantras.

  4. Sitting upon a zafu (see below) or a standard meditation bench will make your practice time more enjoyable and certainly more comfortable than sitting up a flat mat or floor.

What Is a Zafu?

The zafu is a traditional Zen Buddhist meditation cushion. This round cushion is typically made from silk or cotton material consisting of two round pieces (top and bottom) and a strip of pleated fabric which wraps around the outside of the cushion.

There is generally a zippered opening on the side. The filler is a cotton filament or buckwheat hulls. The opening allows you to adjust the amount of filling suitable for your personal comfort both in height and softness. This zippered enclosure makes it convenient to remove the filler for laundering as well.

An optional zabuton (rectangular meditation mat) can be placed underneath the zafu to give extra comfort to knees and legs while sitting in lotus pose. The meditator plants his tailbone near the edge or upon the front third section of the zafu. This position raises the hips above the knees offering comfort. The mediator may also choose to sit in half-lotus or kneeling position when using the zafu.

A zafu would be fairly easy to sew yourself if you are crafty. If you are interested in getting a one-of-a-kind zafu, check out Etsy for one.

Just keep in mind that zafus are sold with or without filler so take note of what you are paying for when you are doing your comparison shopping.

Sitting Meditation

It is recommended that you begin a sitting meditation practice for 5-10 minutes once a day. Preferably at the same time and place. Choose a quiet spot away from noise or distraction and make it your sacred space. Gradually increase your meditation time to 20-30 minutes or longer each day.

How to Do the Lotus Pose

The lotus pose opens the hips and aligns the spine. Right knee is bent and placed on the thigh near the crease of the left hip with the sole of the foot facing the ceiling. Left knee is bent and then crossed over the right hip crease, again with the sole facing upwards. The lotus pose is associated with yoga and meditation.

How to Do the Half Lotus Pose

One knee is bent and placed near the opposite hip crease same as full lotus pose. The other knee is bent and placed underneath the opposite leg.

Zazen

Zen meditation is called Zazen and is typically done once daily for 10 to 30 minutes.

  • Sit upon the floor or cushion with legs crossed (lotus pose).
  • Straighten your spine, allowing a slight bow in the small of the back.
  • Chin is tucked under slightly toward the chest.
  • Mouth is kept closed.
  • Tongue rests on the roof of the mouth with the tip of tongue barely touching the back of upper teeth.
  • Breathe through your nose.
  • Release any tension held in the shoulders.
  • Hands are cupped in the lap in meditation mudra.
  • Eyes are kept closed or open while gazing down onto the floor at approximately 45-degree angle.
  • Silently count or use a mantra allowing any mental thoughts or images to drift away.
  • Leave any expectation out of your meditation space.

Although the zafu originates from Buddhist Zen tradition it can be used for different meditation styles besides Zazen.

Transcendental Meditation

TM or Transcendental Meditation is typically done twice a day for twenty minutes during each session, first thing in the morning and again later in the day.

TM is done while sitting on the floor or sitting upright in a chair.

Vipassana Meditation

Vipassana incorporates a variety of meditation positions in its teachings (sitting, walking, lying down). Suitable sitting positions include:

  • Half Lotus
  • Full Lotus
  • Cross-legged tailor fashion
  • Legs bent with one leg in front (Burmese style)
  • Kneeling on a meditation bench
  • Sitting in a chair