In Burlington, we visited the home of Patrick McAndrew who hosts Kirtan chanting sessions every week on Mondays at 7:00 at his home in his living room. Functioning off of donations, Patrick and his fiancée welcome a plethora of individuals into the living room of their home to spend about four hours practicing chants that stem from the past few thousand years of Hindu tradition.
During his interview, Patrick explained how he believes that meditation could be described as a state of peace and mental focus. He explains further that Kirtan is about serving the music and the song. Patrick talks about the root of Kirtan practices, which are found in Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of love, and emphasizes that doing it as service is a crucial key to Kirtan, may it be service to yourself, peers, or the air.
Patrick mentioned how in June 2007 his time at Kripalu, a Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, MA that is a non-profit organization which operates a health and yoga retreat, he started hearing Krishna Das and Deva Premal at yoga classes. He said that he really enjoyed the chants so he would play them when he was home because that is what music would be stuck in his head.
Patrick spoke about how he has always loved music and felt a connection to it since he was young. He talked to us about how he was in a Punk/Metal band and that making “cacophonous” noises and squeals was a way of meditation for the group members. He goes on to explain that contemplative Buddhist traditions stem from collective meditative experiences of chanting mantras in unison.
Patrick McAndrew “came to Vermont to study music at Goddard College and taught yoga and meditation to his peers” (McAndrew, 1). Patrick started to work within the mental health profession after graduation. In June 2007, “his life-long love of music began to integrate with his devotional yoga practice and Patrick began leading Kirtan, call-and response ecstatic chanting, satisfying a goal of building community and celebration through music. He also accompanies yoga classes and dance classes on guitar” (McAndrew, 1).