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Kirtan: A New Healing Tool for Veterans?

By: for on Sept. 1, 2014
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Some veterans are discovering that kirtan—a form of chanting from India—is helping them cope with conditions such as PTSD, as well as life back home.

When you picture a kirtan enthusiast in your mind’s eye, do you think of a retired American sniper who did three tours in Iraq? What about a former female sergeant who’s struggling with lung injuries, rage, and post-traumatic stress? 

Some veterans are discovering that kirtan—a call-and-response form of mantra chanting that originated in India—is helping them cope with conditions such as PTSD and re-entry into civilian life.

Chant artists such as Gaura Vani and Deva Premal & Miten report hearing positive feedback from their fans, who share moving stories about how the anxiety-reducing practice of chanting has brought them a newfound sense of solace and peace during war's long-term aftermath.

Although it’s a new phenomenon, some in the chant community are beginning to actively reach out to veterans. For example, mantra music artist Girish works with nonprofit organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area and Santa Cruz, California, to offer kirtans for veterans, as well as live mantra music for their yoga classes. 

The Science of Kirtan

A small but growing body of research on kirtan suggests that chanting can provide myriad mind-body benefits. And although no studies on chanting have been conducted with combat veterans, preliminary studies suggest that the practice may help quell some of the conditions they commonly suffer from.

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