As I mentioned in "Our Brains on OM" individuals exploring yoga often are adverse to using mantras. Research validates that our brains prefer to stay with established neural networks because it uses less energy, even if it is not healthy for us. And we all have unhealthy stress habits. It's just a part of everyday modern life. And research shows our cognition and memory suffer. However mantras, and specific mantras can aid with building better resilience and regulation of the areas of the brain that can serve us and diminish the effects of stress and some of the health issues related to stress.
Would you like to increase cognitive function, achieve a 50% or greater improvement of overall mental health, have a 50% or greater reduction of depressive symptoms? A recent study showed that just a daily 12-minute Kirtan Kriya Meditation can improve cognition and activate parts of the brain that are central to memory for the majority of the participants in the study. And it is even being explored if it can benefit with Alzheimer's Disease ( Published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease).
Kirtan Kriya (which is pronounced KEER-tun KREE-a) is a type of meditation from the Kundalini yoga tradition and has been practiced for thousands of years.
Here are the steps for practicing Kirtan Kriya Matra Meditation:
The meditation consists of repeating sounds (or mantra) of "Saa", "Taa", "Naa", and "Maa" while using a hand gesture (mudra) with each sound.
1. Sit with your spine straight, your chin level and head straight. Close your eyes.
With each sound and gesture, imagine the sound flowing through the top of your head and out through the middle of your forehead (third eye).
2. For two minutes, sing the Saa, Taa, Naa, Maa sounds in your normal, with each exhalation; while adding the hand gestures (mudras) listed below. The mudras or finger positions are important in the Kirtan Kriya meditation.
The sequence is as follows:
- On Saa, touch the index fingers of each hand to your thumbs.
- On Taa, touch your middle fingers to your thumbs.
- On Naa, touch your ring fingers to your thumbs.
- On Maa, touch your little fingers to your thumbs.
3. For the next two minutes sing with a whisper
4. For the next four minutes, say the sound to your self silently.
5. The reverse the order, whispering for two minutes, then aloud for two minutes,
The total sequence is twelve minutes. To complete the meditation, inhale deeply, stretch with your hands above your head, then bring them down slowly in a steady sweeping motion as you exhale.
Clinical research has shown that practicing Kirtan Kriya for just 12 minutes a day can improve cognition and activate parts of the brain that are central to memory. Source: Alzheimer's Research & Prevention Foundation
Also, it quiets the parietal lobe and brings symmetry to the thalamus and possibly structures the brain to experience the effect every day, even when we are not meditating.
The Kirtan Kriya meditation seems also to balance the hemispheres of the brain to create a sense of clarity and peace.
Source for "Kirta Kriya Meditation Study" image (at top) slide 12 of "Moving Toward Wholeness: The Relationship Between Spiritual, Physical, and Mental Health"- Andrew Newburg M.D.
Keith Engelhardt A.S., B.A., MYT
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