Reforge Your Life with Mantras!
Kathleen Karlsen


Everyone experiences heartbreak of some kind. We’ve all got our life credentials. A few years ago I had an experience that was deeply painful. I had formed what I believed would be a lifelong partnership to fulfill an incredible spiritual vision. I was completely invested on every level—financially, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.

Suddenly my partner changed directions without explanation. Everything that we were building and planning came to an abrupt halt. I was devastated. I could hardly sleep or breathe or move or think. But when a door closes, a window opens. In the aftermath of that experience, I began to practice a new way to heal my heart: I was chanting.

No matter how desolate I was feeling, I got up every morning and drove my car to an isolated spot, turned on my music and began to chant. Chanting established a new rhythm in my life. I sang mantras as the darkness of the night faded and the sun rose over the mountains near my home in Bozeman, Montana. Winter turned into spring, then summer and fall.

I was healing slowly and steadily. I discovered that chanting is one of the most effective ways to bring spiritual fire into your heart. That fire forges connections to stitch a broken heart back together again. Those connections are like welded seams of steel, yet they are flexible and soften the heart rather than making it more rigid.

The experience of healing a broken heart gives you the confidence to be vulnerable again. When you know that you can survive and that your heart can heal, you are willing to risk again. You continue to grow. You fear the pain less and recognize the opportunities more. My life was shifting and expanding in ways I could never have imagined.

I learned to play a harmonium and took intensives in leading kirtan, a form of call and response chanting experienced in a group setting. I began to share my love of mantras and chanting with others. I spent time researching the power of chanting to not only heal the heart, but also to shift the chemistry of the brain in a positive direction.

Group singing increases dopamine and decreases stress-related chemicals like cortisol. Repeating mantras calms the default mode network in the brain, alleviating depression, anxiety and the sense of isolation so common in the modern world. Eventually I turned my research and personal experiences into a book (Vocal Medicine) on the transformative power of mantras, chanting and kirtan.

I had originally pursued chanting to heal my heart. I discovered that mantras can also heal your brain, your spirit and your life!


Upcoming events with Kathleen Karlsen in Boise include a Goddess Chant workshop on Saturday, January 18 from 2-4pm at Eyes of the World Imports, $20 pre-registration, $25 at the door. More information can be found on Kathleen can be reached at or (406) 599-3235