By Michael Hadfield

Meditation itself is well-known to have beneficial effects: like slowing down the physiological effects of ageing, lowering blood pressure, and reducing stress. It was thought to be a slow process, but some new research has found a marked benefit in a group that only meditated for the 8 week duration of the study.

The study was to test the impact of meditation on age-related cognitive impairment. 15 people were enrolled in the study with ages from 52-77. All were suffering from some form of memory impairment, cognitive dysfunction, or Alzheimer’s. None of them had any prior experience with meditation or yoga.

At the end of the study all the participants reported improved memory or cognitive function. This was supported by brain scans, taken before and after, which showed significant changes. The study itself was over an 8 week period and the participants were asked to meditate daily for just 12 minutes. So results are produced fairly rapidly.

This study was a small-scale preliminary study, consequently it isn’t possible to draw definite conclusions or start to make amazing claims about the power of meditation, but they used a form of meditation, Kirtan Kriya that I hadn’t come across before, so I checked it out and thought I’d give it a go and see if I noticed any effects.

One of the problems with regular meditation is that it isn’t much fun. This is one of the reasons why I have started to create meditation CDs to make the process much more enjoyable. The boredom factor is also another of the reasons why it’s difficult to notice any benefits you may gain from meditating. It’s easy to do something when your body gives you immediate positive feedback. Not so easy when all you get is 10 minutes relaxation and during that time you have to focus on something like a mantra or your breathing, rather than on your much more interesting thought world.

Now when I checked out the details of Kirtan Kriya meditation I found it was quite different from anything I had done before, but I was immediately presented with a problem.

Kirtan Kriya is a Kundalini yoga meditation based around a chant consisting of four sounds: Sa Ta Na Ma voiced with long a’s at a pace of around one sound per second.

Here are the rules:

  • Sit cross-legged, or in a straight-backed chair.
  • As you chant Sa, touch tips of thumbs and forefingers.
  • As you chant Ta, touch tips of thumbs and middle fingers.
  • As you chant Na, touch tips of thumbs and ring fingers.
  • As you chant Ma, touch tips of thumbs and little fingers.
  • Repeat this chant in a normal voice for 2 minutes.
  • Repeat this chant in a whisper for 2 minutes.
  • Repeat this chant in silence (as thoughts) for 4 minutes.
  • Repeat this chant in a whisper for 2 minutes.
  • Repeat this chant in a normal voice for 2 minutes.

You can see that this is a cycle within a cycle. The cycle of finger/thumb contact moving round the fingers, and the cycle of loud, quiet, silence, quiet, loud. The sounds themselves are another cycle. Sa represents the beginning, Ta is life, Na is death, Ma is rebirth & regeneration.

My problem was how I time the minutes without breaking my concentration to open my eyes to look at a clock, or set and reset a timer. One possibility was simply to meditate eyes open and watch the clock. That was a possibility and I was going to see if that would work when I found this amazing recording by Wahe Guru Kaur. So I made myself comfortable in front of my computer and started listening.

I think I have a pretty good sense of time and I thought I must have got something wrong, or this wasn’t what I needed, because loud seemed to be going on for an awful lot longer than two minutes. I was just about to stop and turn it off when it changed to a whisper, so I closed my eyes and continued listening.

It turned out that this was a 30 minute version of a Kirtan Kriya meditation. 5 minutes out loud, 5 minutes whisper, 10 minutes silent, 5 minutes whisper and 5 minutes out loud. And it was really good.

The first thing I did this morning, before starting work, was to listen again. It has left me with a feeling that I want to do it, rather than I should. Why this audio track works so brilliantly and makes the meditation so easy is that for the out loud parts you have Wahe Guru Kaur’s beautiful voice to speak along with. So any embarrassment about muttering weird sounds to yourself is gone completely. There is also a really pleasant background track to listen to. The beat in this is synchronised with the sounds so you don’t lose track of the timing when it gets to the silent bit.

My own feeling is that this meditation is bringing body and mind back into balance. The finger-thumb touching with both hands is activating both brain hemispheres. The chant forces your breath into new rhythms – and breath is powerfully connected to emotional states and the releasing of negative emotions. So you can see that even physiologically it has the potential to be beneficial without needing to subscribe to any mystical beliefs about the power of meditation – though you can do that too if you want.

A quick search around the internet reveals many other beneficial claims made for the benefits of this particular meditation, so why not try it out.

Michael J. Hadfield MBSCH is a registered clinical hypnotherapist, with many years’ experience in the treatment of weight problems, stress, anxiety, phobias, smoking, and other psychological problems. If you would like a FREE copy of his latest book ‘Freedom’ visit http://www.hypnosisiseasy.com/freedom.htm and discover how to take those first steps towards a future where you find yourself living your dreams.

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