Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Kirtan as a spiritual practice in addiction recovery: A phenomenological study
by Vaughn, Shanell Leigh, M.T.P., Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, 2010, 147; 1474240
Abstract (Summary)

The author investigated the lived experience of Sanskrit-based devotional chanting (kirtan) as practiced by individuals in an addiction recovery program based on the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Steps (Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1981). The primary research question was: "What, if any, are the lived experiences of conscious contact with God that participants attribute to the practice of kirtan?" Kirtan is a spiritual practice of bhakti that originated in south India as an ecstatic musical expression of personal devotion to and love for God (Puyang-Martin, 1996). The context for this thesis is that individuals following the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Steps are encouraged to cultivate a spiritual foundation to support their recovery. The concept of conscious contact with God was drawn from the 11 th Step of recovery in which individuals seek to improve their conscious contact with God, as they understand God to be. A phenomenological research method was applied to explore the experience of kirtan as described by individuals in a 12 Step program. Volunteers were chosen who self reported having been in a 12 Step program for a minimum of 1 year. I was primarily interested in understanding the underlying structures of kirtan that contributed to the participants having a "felt-sense" of conscious contact with God. I recruited 6 participants from Bermuda's 12 Step communities, all of whom engaged in the practice of kirtan over a 2-week period. Information was gathered using semi-structured interviews and by recording participants' descriptions of their experience of kirtan.

The results of this study revealed that kirtan is a musical vehicle through which individuals can attain conscious contact with God. Three themes emerged from the descriptive data indicating individual contact with God. These themes suggested that the essence of the experience of conscious contact with God was childlike, immediate, and outside ordinary ego-consciousness. Furthermore, the experience of kirtan was essentially meditative. Finally, kirtan engendered a sense of fellowship amongst participants, a vital element in 12 Step addiction recovery programs. In total, 7 themes emerged from the data that contributed to the author's understanding of the essence of the lived experience of kirtan for recovering addicts.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Blackstone, Judith
Commitee: Bruder, Kurt A., Patel, Kartikeya
School: Institute of Transpersonal Psychology
Department: Global Master of Transpersonal Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 48/04M, Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Psychology, Spirituality, Physiological psychology
Keywords: 12 steps, Addiction, Bhakti yoga, Chanting, Kirtan, Mantra
Publication Number: 1474240
ISBN: 9781109628708
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