On Saturday, I immersed myself in chanting at a Bhakti Fest in London.
If you have never experienced this, imagine a large hall with high ceilings. On the burnished wooden floor, cast a scattering of rugs and cushions. People appear seated cross-legged, bodies draped in shawls; friends, neighbours, strangers sit close together while children mingle and explore.
A group of musicians occupies the far corner next to a beautifully decorated puja (altar) hung with flowers and illuminated with candles. The harmonium begins to drone, the tabla player "tock tocks" with a hammer to tune his instrument, and the chanting begins…slowly at first in a gentle call and response, then gradually climbing to shimmering crescendos. The sounds soak in from outside and build up from inside; your body beings to relax; your heart finds a new rhythm.