Friends often talk to me about the hours they spend doing triathlons or running marathons, and usually I say that I can't imagine doing something I love for so many hours. So it surprises me to remember that I once spent three days chanting Hindu mantras, non-stop, at the top of my lungs.

This is sometimes called japa, or Indian meditation music. Sometimes it's just called crazy.

These days, a lot of people are only familiar with chanting music meditation through the work of the popular performer, Krishna Das.

There is, however, quite a difference between the Krishna Das concert I attended with my wife and mother-in-law and 72-hours of straight chanting in a small room with a bunch of Indians.

At the Krishna Das concert, what I experienced was more like music relaxation than it was music meditation. It felt kind of like a recorded meditation CD, except one that was happening live. Sort of like singing in your car… but with a ton of people around. Generally, he would start some chant and then, after a few moments, it would get more energetic and speed up before he finally either abruptly ended it or brought it to a slow completion. The result is the mental equivalent of dropping a heavy object – a sudden and very pleasant release.

However, when you chant for hours and hours and do yoga meditation for days at a time, the experience is totally different.

In that situation, as you grow ready for the chanting to stop so you can experience the relaxation release, the music keeps going. When you reach a point that you just couldn't possibly chant that Hindu god's name even once more… they keep playing and you chant it again. If you become exhausted, you throw your exhaustion into the singing. If you grow frustrated or angry and just certain that you've never done anything more idiotic, the meditation music is also frustrated and angry and you keep right on going anyway.

When you reach a point where something inside your mind snaps and you get blissed out and want to rest, the music continues on. This meditation practice involves taking everything in each moment and putting it into your voice and into the chanting.

This is an impossible experience to describe. There aren’t any meditation MP3’s that will get you singing for three whole days nonstop. No relaxation CD is ever going to put you into that state of exhaustion you reach late into the night with a mantra moving across your lips.

Now, maybe from this description it sounds like I am suggesting you seek out an ashram where you can get yourself a good case of laryngitis doing this practice. Twenty years after having experienced it myself, however, I have to say that I wouldn’t recommend this kind of music meditation anymore than I'd suggest any other extreme experience like bungee jumping or skydiving.

I think it's a fine memory and a great story, but I don’t believe that the "spiritual life" or meditation practice need to be so difficult.

Author's Bio: 

Steven Sashen began meditation when he was eight years old, was one of the first biofeedback pioneers, and researched cognition and perception at Duke University. In addition to a successful career as an entrepreneur and entertainer, Steven has taught transformational techniques around the world and developed the Instant Advanced Meditation Course, which Dr. Gay Hendricks calls, "Perhaps the fastest and easiest way to relax, expand awareness, and find deep inner-peace."

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