The weather was very suitable for our retreat: we had two days of rain! In this way, we were not too distracted by our pleasant environment and maintained a good focus on chanting the holy name - in japa as well as in kirtan. It was Krishna's perfect arrangement.
In kirtan we are meant to connect with the Lord, calling out to Him in helplessness. We should fill our chanting with a genuine longing for this relationship with Him. For too many life times we have been turning our back to Him! Now we finally want to put an end to this and mindfully turn to Him. In order to help us cultivate this mood, we can do an effective exercise of imagining that at ten o'clock at night we will have to leave our body. Death has the power to help us feel helpless.
Kirtan should be entered in the mood of service - serving Krishna in the form of the maha-mantra. The maha-mantra has to be the very center of attention - for everyone: the lead singer, the instrument players and the audience. Also for those devotees who are dancing, the maha-mantra should be the main focus. As soon as we are in a mood off showing off - either by singing, playing the instruments or dancing, the highly transcendental affair of kirtan will get contaminated by our mundane consciousness. HH Sacinandana Swami likes to call such kirtan the 'poisonous medicine capsule': chanting the holy name with material motives. Thus entering kirtan brings about a great responsibility for everyone who participates. We have to enter by cultivating the right mood and consciousness.
Once we get some little insights what kirtan is all about, we lose our eagerness to lead. We realize, that it is so much easier to connect with Krishna when we don't lead. And we realize, that our possible frustration or disappointment when not being invited to lead simply indicates, that we are running after the flickering ego satisfaction of leading. The mere satisfaction of leading is not coming from the joy of chanting the holy name. If we truly experience the satisfaction and joy of chanting the holy name, it is not dependent on whether or not we are leading. This satisfaction is always available to anyone who enters kirtan in the right mood and consciousness: connecting with the Lord and longing to cultivate our loving relationship with Him.
Your servant, Devaki dd