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New Wave of Healing

New wave of healingthe new wave of healing meditation: kirtan kriya
Besides feeling blissful, relaxation is a medical fact. Thirty-odd years ago, Harvard cardiologist Herbert Benson, M.D. identified and scientifically confirmed what happens during the Relaxation Response, namely: heart rate slows down, brain waves slow down and move into theta, or the state of creative flow that is often only accessed when dreaming. The stress hormone cortisol stops flowing and natural feel-good, painkilling hormones such as endorphins are released.

Today, the medical aspects of various types of meditation are an emerging area of research. The first study of Kirtan Kriya kundalini yoga meditation by Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. and the Tucson-based Alzheimers Prevention Foundation International has recently discovered that this 12-minute meditation confers powerful cognitive benefits. To help you learn the 411 on Kirtan Kriya and how to do it, findbliss.com offers the following findings and guidelines for your illumination. Enjoy!

What is Kirtan Kriya?
Kirtan Kriya (see illustrated instructions below) is a 12-minute singing exercise in the Kundalini yoga tradition that people have been practicing for thousands of years. This meditation involves repetitive finger movements or mudras, plus chanting and silent chanting of the mantra Saa Taa Naa Maa. These ancient primal sounds from Sanskrit mean “birth, life, death, rebirth.”

What does Kirtan Kriya mean in English?
A kirtan is a song. Kriya refers to a specific set of movements or chants. In the yogic tradition, kriyas are used to help bring the body, mind, and emotions into balance, thus creating healing.

When and where did the study take place?
The study occurred at the Amen Clinic in Newport Beach, California on September 5-6, 2003. It was a joint project between the Alzheimer’s Prevention Foundation International, and the Amen Clinic of Newport Beach, California, affiliated with the University of California at Irvine.

What did the study hypothesize and how many subjects were involved?
It was hypothesized that Kirtan Kriya would show activation of the frontal lobe and activation of the hippocampus. Eleven subjects (experienced meditators) were brought in to test this hypothesis. They first sat quietly and had a baseline for control SPECT scan study of their brain. SPECT stands for Single Photon Emission Computerized Tomography. The subjects then practiced Kirtan Kriya (Saa Taa Naa Maa primal sound meditation) for 12 minutes. After completion, they each had another SPECT scan taken of their brains.

What exactly was measured during this study?
Subjects’ brain physiology was measured before and after practicing Kirtan Kriya. This project represents the first study of its kind to look at meditation and neurofunction in a medically prescribed manner, in this case for 12 minutes.

What does a SPECT scan from the study show before meditation?
In one of the brain scans, we see 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 does a SPECT scan of the same brain described above show after meditation?
A SPECT scan of the same brain shows that the dimples have 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.

What’s the final summary on this study’s findings?
Utilizing SPECT scans in subjects practicing Kirtan Kriya for twelve minutes produced a brain picture consistent with increase in attention, concentration, and focus.

Perhaps most significantly, the Kirtan Kriya proved to activate the first area of the brain to degenerate with Alzheimer’s disease – the posterior cingulate gyrus. This raises the compelling question: can Alzheimer’s disease possibly be prevented in only 12 minutes a day?

Who helped support this study?
This study was made possible through a grant by an anonymous supporter, funding by the Alzheimer’s Prevention Foundation International, and an in-kind grant by Amen Clinics, Inc.

What is the Alzheimer’s Prevention Foundation International (APFI)?
The APFI is dedicated to reducing the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease by conducting clinical research and providing educational outreach. The APFI believes that an integrative medical approach allows the greatest chance of preventing Alzheimer’s.

This approach utilizes the best of conventional medicine combined with the best of complementary or alternative medical modalities such as diet, brain-specific nutrients, stress management, and physical as well as mental exercise.

The APFI produces educational brochures for caregivers, patients and the public on such topics as Alzheimer’s prevention and brain aerobics. These are available through www.AlzheimersPrevention.org.

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