We’d like to share with you a tale from the heart, from mantra singer/songwriter and formidable talent Franko Heke. This self-confessed former “wayward youth” discovered how kirtan can help to alleviate depression and bring healing and joy to all!
As someone who has wrestled with bouts of deep depression and anxiety since I was a young boy it felt like I have always been searching for a “remedy” or “way out”. Throughout my adolescence and in my 20’s that remedy came in the form of partying and living a rebellious “bad-boy” lifestyle. Forever chasing that elusive high, when you’re riding the wave it’s amazing but when that wave comes crashing down, it crashes down hard and fast. I was a pretty lost and wayward young lad, just trying to numb the pain of being me. Now I can see that it was all just a means to fill a void of loneliness and a yearning to “fit in.”
Yet there has always been a common thread throughout all of these times – music. During my many highs and lows, music has always there with me like a familiar friend. I’ve loved music ever since I was a kid, I grew up in a household where music was really integral and my parents had great taste! And they often took me to concerts and this is where my earliest inspiration began.
I have done it all, Rap, Rock, Techno and Pop. Well I thought that I had done it all…until I was taken by the hand during what I called a “self-committed” solo monastery retreat to a Satsang and Kirtan. It was a Friday night and I vividly remember walking into this particular family’s home, whom I had never met before and feeling completely welcomed by their smiles and open heart. Everyone sat down and one person at the front started playing their guitar whilst launching into singing a line of mantra then everyone around me sang that lyric back in response. I’d never heard Sanskrit before or heard mantra sung like this in call and response, I was captivated and mesmerized. The power of that response sent shivers right through my whole body, I knew then that this was what I needed to experience.
So there I was, die-hard party-boy on a Friday night in Auckland singing, albeit sober with a whole bunch of strangers sharing smiles, energy, food and music. I loved every minute of it, I completely forgot about my inadequacies in those moments because I was at one with the mantra. My days of playing covers in bars and pubs are now over, I spend a lot of my time holding kirtan nights just like the one I experienced all those years ago in yoga studios around Auckland. I also write and compose much of what I play, and I’ve never looked back, because I understand how lucky I am to know firsthand the tremendous healing qualities of singing and mantra.
The thing I love to do the most on this stunning planet is bring people together and sing so I look forward to sharing this with you at Golden Yogi’s “Project Your Destiny” event on Sunday 22, May!
Written by Franko Heke