Heal Yourself by Practicing Medical Meditation

The following article by Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. called Medical Meditations is very interesting to me because I am a TBI Survivor. Dr. Khalsa makes detailed references to Sa Ta Na Ma / Kirtan Kriya Meditation and the Relaxation Response.

After reading this article I had a very clear understanding from a medical perspective as well as kundalini yoga perspective why Dr. Daniel Amen recommends Kirtan Kriya meditation.

TBI and ABI survivors heal your brain by doing Sa Ta Na Ma meditation

Dr. Khalsa writes:

Naad means the essence of all sound. It is the experience of how sound currents, often chanted and linked to breathing, affect health and consciousness.

The meditation techniques utilized in naad yoga employ sound waves and vibrational frequencies to target specific neurotransmitters in the brain, which induce a variety of changes in the physical,
emotional, mental and spiritual state of the practitioner.

Think of the human organism as a musical instrument

Think of the human organism as a musical instrument. By changing the patterns and rhythms of sound and breath it is possible to link all the systems of the body that regulate excitement, relaxation, action, reaction and intelligence. By tuning our inner vibration we can literally resonate ourselves to the heavens, thus creating that state where we feel divine and in touch with our higher source of healing energy.

As our brain, mind, body and spirit are fluid rather than fixed, this vibration can cause profound changes which are transmitted to our cells, reaching the level of our DNA itself, thus helping to maintain genetic integrity.

Our own natural healing state

The vibrational waves induced by chanting the specific mantras of naad yoga, which I call “medical meditations,” have the power to cut through the negative thought patterns which so often accompany illness, thus triggering the activation of our own natural healing state.

These innovative meditation techniques can cause healing energy and increased blood flow to be directed specifically to affected organs. This creates a more profoundly recuperating effect of a specific illness when compared to a basic meditation technique, according to many practitioners of medical meditation. Moreover, current medical research supports this notion by revealing the link between different meditation techniques and optimal functioning of the brain. Studies recently concluded at Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital show a graded effect between basic meditation and medical meditation. In basic meditation only a small area of the brain was engaged while the addition of selected sounds produced more pronounced levels of activation. This was evidenced by new activity in deeper anatomical structures of the brain such as the pons, amygdala and the hippocampus. Previous studies of medical meditation have looked at cardiac beat-to-beat variability and future research will examine specific breathing techniques including long deep breathing, rapid diaphragmatic breathing (breath of fire) and segmented breathing.

Physiology of stress

In order to appreciate more fully basic and advanced meditation let us first briefly examine the physiology of stress. On an academic level stress is defined as the point when your ability to perform is exceeded by the demand placed upon you, known or unknown, conscious or not. This is called the Yerkes/Dobson Law.

As demand increases, the ability to perform increases up to a certain level. When the ability to perform is exceeded by the demand, performance decreases and stress ensues. There may be a number of different events that can produce the same end point of the stress response. It may be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual stress. An unresolved conflict, an unhappy marriage or a difficult work situation may all produce similar changes in bodily function.

Stress, regardless of its origin, has a distinct physiology. Blood pressure rises, pulse goes up, respiratory rate increases, muscles tense, digestion slows, reproductive functions decline; moreover, the blood level of fight or flight hormones, such as adrenaline and the killer hormone, cortisol, rises. As an acute survival mechanism, this is the wisdom of the body at its best. But when unbalanced stress becomes chronic it is a good thing gone bad. Many leading researchers now agree that chronic unbalanced stress is the root cause of many illnesses. Stress decreases immunity, damages the cardiovascular system by accelerating atherosclerosis, raises blood pressure to unhealthy levels, causes cognitive decline and leads to anger, hostility and depression. A life devoid of joy, fulfillment or perhaps more importantly, a lack of spiritual fulfillment, often follows.

The Relaxation Response

The Relaxation Response, as studied for the past 30 years by Benson and others, has shown that when four requirements are met, the physiological state opposite to stress is produced.

This is that the blood pressure declines, other stress reactions are reduced and perhaps most importantly MVO2, or the cells’ demand for oxygen, is diminished. Furthermore, serum lactic acid levels plummet, signifying a shift to a more alkaline or healing state of being. Lipid peroxidase, a marker of dangerous free radical activity, also drops and, perhaps most importantly, cortisol levels go down for the next 8–12 hours. The body and mind thus return to a state of equilibrium.

The four requirements to elicit the relaxation response are:

  1. Comfort—Do not fall asleep
  2. Quiet—Make this your time
  3. Tool—Any thought, sound, short prayer or phrase
  4. Attitude—Favoring, focused, loving.

Studies have shown a number of key outcome measures to be enhanced when basic meditation is added to an integrative therapeutic intervention. Better medical results, many times exceeding both the patients’ and the physicians’ expectations, less trips to the doctor and fewer complications of health problems have all been reported.

Positive changes seen from the practice of medical meditation

Among the positive changes seen by physicians whose patients practice medical meditations when compared to basic meditation are:

  • Faster recovery
  • More complete response
  • Less debilitating illness
  • Less recurrence, relapse or recidivism.

I believe these outcomes are seen because medical meditation takes basic meditation to the next level. Notice the additional features of medical meditation.

  1. Breath (can be long, rapid, segmented or linked to a mantra)
  2. Posture (affects meridian energy flow, balances the five elements)
  3. Mantra or sound (raises energy, clears emotional pain)
  4. Mudra (hand or fingertip position and stimulates the motorsensory area of the brain)
  5. Focus of concentration (e.g., chin, tip of the nose, forehead. This controls hormonal secretions, especially from pituitary).

After a two-year study of patients with advanced HIV-AIDS, the chief outcome measure that was reported by Shanti Shanti Kaur Khalsa, Ph.D. was an increase in self-efficacy (the belief that what you do makes a difference) after only one session of medical meditation.

The three key principles of medical meditation

To summarize, the three key principles of medical meditation are as follows:

  1. Medical meditation is beyond the relaxation response
  2. In medical meditation different methods have different effects
  3. Among key psychological benefits are conscious awareness (the ability to change a negative thought to a positive one as it occurs) and the ability to more rapidly focus attention on healing.

Additional physiological effects of adding sound to meditation:

Adding musical notation to mantras has the following physiological effects:

  • Reduced anxiety, heart rate and respiratory rate
  • Reduced complications after heart attacks
  • Increased immune cell messengers
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Boost in natural opiates
  • Drop in stress hormones.

Kirtan Kriya

Some medical authors and some yoga masters believe that mantras or meditations should be private and personal. I, however, do not.

Why promote isolationism when intimacy and connection are essential for healing and survival?

My teacher Yogi Bhajan came to America in 1969 and openly taught this ancient, sacred and formerly secret practice. He has said:

“If you were in the desert and needed a glass of water, wouldn’t I share it with you?”

Those of us who practice and teach medical meditation want to create the space where these powerful techniques are open to everyone and readily accessible.

As mentioned, the chief reason medical meditation is more advanced than basic meditation is primarily because of the use of different sound currents.

As a prototype, take the medical meditation known as Kirtan Kriya.

Kirtan Kriya uses the five primal sound Mantra SA, TA, NA, MA (AH is common to each and thus the 5th sound).

A well-known author on personal growth who includes meditation as part of his lecture to help his audience manifest their destiny, recommends using ahh, the fifth sound. This approach, taught to him by his guru, has proven effective. That is how powerful this technology is.

Imagine therefore how much more effective it is when the undiluted technique of the five primal sounds is used.

It is written in the original meditation texts and passed down via the “golden chain of teachers,” that all meditation begins and ends with the five primal sounds. Yogi Bhajan has said, moreover, that if one were to sincerely practice kirtan kriya for one year in a certain prescribed manner, that person would, “Know the unknown and see the unseen.”

Positive Effects of Kirtan Kriya

This meditation has a number of positive effects, such as helping one focus, concentrate, consolidate energy, change a habit or accelerate spiritual growth.

Sit with your spine straight, eyes are closed. Focus your energy on your brow or forehead. This will stimulate your pituitary. You can find the spot by rolling your eyes up to the root of your nose. As you chant the mantra, imagine the sound coming in the top of the head and out of that spot. With your hands resting at your knees, press the tip of the thumb of each hand firmly to each of the fingertips of that hand in sequence, starting with the forefingers, while chanting each syllable in turn. Be sure, as you chant each syllable, to press firmly enough so that when you release the pressure, the tip of the finger is briefly white. Keep your fingers moving throughout the entire meditation.

For two minutes chant in your normal voice, what I call the “voice of action.” For the next two minutes chant in a whisper, “the voice of the lover.” For the next three minutes chant silently; the yogis call this “the divine language.” Then reverse the order, whispering for two minutes, then chanting the mantra out loud for two minutes, for a total of 11 minutes. To come out of the meditation, inhale very deeply, stretch your arms up in the air, vigorously shake out your fingers and then bring them down in a sweeping motion as you exhale. In a short time this mediation may well increase your intuition, creativity and mental energy.

Practicing Kirtan Kriya is very easy as you will see from the step by step instructions in my blog posting Kirtin Kriya: Sa Ta Na Ma Meditation.

Hypothalamus Stimulated

The mantra of Kirtan Kriya and other medical meditations, when chanted correctly, cause the tongue to touch the roof of the mouth where 84 meridian points are located. This is analogous to your fingertip touching a computer keyboard; although the act is simple, the effect is vast. When the upper palate is struck, vibrational energy is relayed to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus secretes all of the necessary hormones, orchestrating a pituitary peptide cascade, which acts both locally and at a distance. The pituitary controls all of the glands. It is the command center for the entire glandular system and the glands are the guardian of health.

Natural Healing Response Activated

After being released, these powerful neuro-chemicals travel throughout the body/mind to activate a natural healing response in the cells of the immune system, in affected organs, within the five elements and the subtle energy meridians. These cells and organs, in turn, complete an information cycle by secreting similar chemicals back to the brain. Kirtan Kriya takes advantage of this well-known information network which links mind, body and spirit. As the elements are balanced and meridians opened by Kirtan Kriya, anger, hostility, aggression, obsession, depression, grief and loneliness are soothed. Physicaly this allows the energy of the GI system, lungs, kidneys, liver and heart to be brought into balance.

From a longevity medicine standpoint the work of Dillman and Dean has conclusively demonstrated that a lack of proper stimulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is, in part, responsible for the institution and acceleration of the aging process. Medical meditations, therefore, are antiaging since they initiate a mild physiological stimulatory effect in these glandular structures.

 

Dr. Daniel Amen recommends Kirtan Kriya – the the SA TA NA MA meditation

Dr. Daniel Amen in his book Making A Good Brain Great recommends using a form of meditation known as Kirtan Kriya, also known as the SA TA NA MA meditation.

The 12 minute format of Kirtan Kriya that Dr. Amen recommends is a very easy form of meditation for busy people to practice and a slight variation on the traditional 11 Minute Sa Ta Na Ma Meditation.

The SA TA NA MA meditation is based on the five primal sounds:

  • Saa,
  • Taa,
  • Naa,
  • Maa and
  • Aa

SA TA NA MA Mantra Instruction Video with Guruka Singh Khalsa

Kirtan Kriya Meditation

A wonderful video with Guruka Singh Khalsa showing the steps involved in practicing the Kirtan Kriya meditation.I love this video. I watched it often as I was learning the SaTaNaMa meditation and I like to go back to it.

I have found this to be a wonderful meditation.

Sa Ta Na Ma Meditation

I have struggled to meditate on a regular daily basis for decades. And while there is no doubt that the gabapentin medication is helping me to stay on track, as shown in my second SPECT Scan, I am finding that when I get up in the morning, and before goingto bed at night, I really look forward to doing Kirtin Kriya. It seems that the combination of sound (mantra) and movement (Mudra) makes a difference for me.

Dr. Amen says “I teamed with Drs. Dharma Singh Khalsa and Nisha Money to study the impact of meditation on the brain. We chose a simple 12 minute form of meditation, Kriya Kirtan, that is easy for busy people to practice. It is based on the five primal sounds: Saa, Taa, Naa, Maa (aa being the fifth sound). Meditators say each sound as they consecutively touch their thumb to fingers two, three, four and five. The sounds and fingering are repeated for two minutes out loud, two minutes whispering, four minutes silently, two minutes whispering and two minutes out loud.

“We performed SPECT scans at rest one day and then after meditation the next day. We saw marked decreases in the left parietal lobes (decreasing awareness of time and space) and significant increases in the prefrontal cortex (which showed that meditation helped to tune people in, not out). We also saw increased activity in the right temporal lobe, an area that has been associated with spirituality.

Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation & Kirtan Kriya

Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation conducted a study at the Amen Clinic in Newport Beach, California in 2003. It was a joint project between the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation and the Amen Clinic of Newport Beach, California, affiliated with the University of California at Irvine.

What did the SPECT scan from the study show before doing Kirtan Kriya?

In one of the brain scans, we saw that the dimples in the front of the brain show a lack of complete blood flow. The area located on the back region of the brain is lumpy and asymmetrical, also due to a lack of blood flow. In the center of the brain, no thalamus is visible.

What did a SPECT scan of the same brain described above show after doing Kirtan Kriya?

A SPECT scan of the same brain showed that the dimples had disappeared, showing an increase in blood flow. The back of the brain is fuller and more symmetrical. The thalamus is now visible in the center of the brain. The thalamus controls appetite and sleep cycles, sets the emotional tone of the mind, and promotes bonding.

Brain scan before and after kirtan kriya meditation

So I am looking forward to my next SPECT Scan to see what other changes we see to my brain.

When you do the Kirtin Kriya meditation you say each sound as you consecutively touch your thumb to fingers two, three, four and five. Each time you close a mudra by joining the thumb with a finger, your ego “seals” its effect in your consciousness.

Visualize or feel each individual sound come in the crown chakra at the top of the head, down through the middle of the head and out to infinity through the third eye. This is very important and must be done with each sound. It is an essential part of the cleansing process. If this part of the meditation is not done, you may experience a headache.

Kirtan Kriya 12 Minute Meditation Instructions :

  • Sit with a straight spine.
  • Bring your mental focus to the brow point.
  • 2 minutes OUTLOUD – SA TA NA MA
  • 2 minutes in an audible WHISPER – SA TA NA MA
  • 4 minutes chant SILENTLY. Keep the hands and tongue moving – SA TA NA MA.
  • 2 minutes WHISPER – SA TA NA MA.
  • 2 minutes OUTLOUD – SA TA NA MA.
  • 30 seconds: sit quietly and listen inside, hear the mantra and experience the energy flowing in throw your Crown Chakra and out through your brow (Third Eye).
  • Do not do the finger movements.
  • 30 seconds: inhale deeply, raise the arms up in the air and vigorously shake the arms and fingers. You can involve the whole body and spine. Exhale. Repeat 1 or 2 more time if you desire. This is an important part of the meditation as it helps move and release the energy in the body.

Relax for a few minutes before going about your day. Or relax on your back. If it is before bed time, simply go to sleep.

While doing the meditation, you may experience pictures of the past come up like on a movie screen in your mind. Let them dance in front of your eyes and release them with the mantra. This is part of the cleansing of the subconscious mind.

If emotions come up, you can also incorporate them in the chanting, i.e. if you feel anger then chant out the anger. Whatever you experience is OK. Do not try to avoid or control your experiences. Simply be with what is going on and go through it. It is all part of the cleansing process.

The bottom line is that this meditation works. All you have to do is do it. You can trust the process and the technology.

Sa Ta Na Ma Meditation

Heal your brain ny doing the Kirtan Kriya Sa Ta Na Ma meditation with Richard Edward Ward

 

Kirtan Kriya: Sa Ta Na Ma Meditation

As discussed in my posting Dr. Daniel Amen recommends Kirtan Kriya – the the SA TA NA MA meditation this is a form of meditation that I have found this to be easy to practice. I have struggled to meditate on a regular daily basis for decades but now, when I get up in the morning, I look forward to doing Kirtin Kriya and before going to bed as well.

While Dr. Amen uses a 12 minute version of Kirtan Kriya I use the 13 minute and 31 minute versions.

Following are the instructions for the 13 minutes and 31 minute versions recommended by Yogi Bhajan.

Kirtan Kriya 13 Minute Meditation Instructions :

  • Sit with a straight spine.
  • Bring your mental focus to the brow point.
  • 2 minutes OUTLOUD
  • 2 minutes in an audible WHISPER
  • 3 minutes chant SILENTLY. Keep the fingers and tongue moving.
  • 2 minutes WHISPER.
  • 2 minutes OUTLOUD.
  • 1 minute relaxation: at the end of the meditation, inhale deeply, raise the arms up in the air and vigorously shake the arms and fingers. You can involve the whole body and spine. Exhale. Repeat 1 or 2 more time if you desire. This is an important part of the meditation as it helps move and release the energy in the body.
  • Then sit quietly and listen inside, hear the mantra and experience the energy flowing in throw your Crown Chakra and out through your brow (Third Eye).
  • Do not do the finger movements.

Relax for a few minutes before going about your day. Or relax on your back. If it is before bed time, simply go to sleep.

Kirtan Kriya 31 Minute Meditation Instructions :

  • Sit with a straight spine.
  • Bring your mental focus to the brow point.
  • 5 minutes OUTLOUD
  • 5 minutes in an audible WHISPER
  • 10 minutes chant SILENTLY. Keep the fingers and tongue moving.
  • 5 minutes WHISPER.
  • 5 minutes OUTLOUD.
  • 1 minute: at the end of the meditation, inhale deeply, raise the arms up in the air and vigorously shake the arms and fingers. You can involve the whole body and spine. Exhale. Repeat 1 or 2 more time if you desire. This is an important part of the meditation as it helps move and release the energy in the body.
  • Then sit quietly and listen inside, hear the mantra and experience the energy flowing in throw your Crown Chakra and out through your brow (Third Eye).
  • Do not do the finger movements.

Optimally this meditation is done for 31 minutes. It can also be done for 62 minutes by doubling the times.

Each time you close a mudra by joining the thumb with a finger, your ego “seals” its effect in your consciousness.

Visualize or feel each individual sound come in the crown chakra at the top of the head, down through the middle of the head and out to infinity through the third eye. This is very important and must be done with each sound. It is an essential part of the cleansing process. If this part of the meditation is not done, you may experience a headache.

While doing the meditation, you may experience pictures of the past come up like on a movie screen in your mind. Let them dance in front of your eyes and release them with the mantra. This is part of the cleansing of the subconscious mind. If emotions come up, you can also incorporate them in the chanting, i.e. if you feel anger then chant out the anger. Whatever you experience is OK. Do not try to avoid or control your experiences. Simply be with what is going on and go through it. It is all part of the cleansing process.

Kirtin Kriya, often referred to as SA TA NA MA meditation, is the most important meditation in Kundalini Yoga. It was one of the first meditations taught by Yogi Bhajan and remains today as a foundation meditation recommended for every student of Kundalini yoga. Yogi Bhajan says that if you can do only one meditation, this is it. It does everything for you in the order that you need. It is your teacher. And as you practice it, you will come to realize that it is your best friend. Whatever you need at the moment, it will readjust and align you to bring balance into your mind and thus your life.

The bottom line is that this meditation works. All you have to do is do it. You can trust the process and the technology.