There are many forms of meditation. Adherents to each different form will probably proclaim that their method confers the most benefits.

Vipassana (Insight)

I had the rare privilege to sit for a 10 day Vipassana (Insight) course in Sydney in 1983 that was conducted in person by S.N. Goenka, the founder of modern Vipassana.

Noble silence is observed for the entire 10 days. The day starts at 4.00am and ends at 9:30 pm with 11:15 hours of meditation where the practitioner sits motionless and practises Anapana (breathing) for 3 days and thereafter Vipassana.  

It is pretty intensive.

I have done another 10 10 day courses since then, but, to be honest,  I have struggled to keep up daily practice.

I wish my brain chemistry could have been analysed, before and after each course.

All I can say is that, mentally, I felt like Superman.  Emotionally, I felt calm. Spiritually, I felt good vibes towards everyone.

Whilst I believe in Vipassana, I also believe that most of the alternative forms confer similar benefits.

Fortunately, there have been many research studies which have measured the benefits of Meditation.

Meditation, as described in the ancient Vedic texts, is an exercise of consciousness that results in the expansion of consciousness.

Although I did not have my brain analysed, there was a study performed on Insight meditators which concluded that Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness.

Analysis of the right frontal BA 9/10 subregion resulted in a significant age by group interaction, F(1,31)=10.85, P=0.002, with typical age-related decreases observed in the control group [r(13)=-0.76, P=0.001] but not in the meditation group [r(18)=-0.05, P=0.83].

What this means is that as we age we lose grey matter, unless we meditate, in which case we don’t.  

In other words, “Meditation keeps our brains young”

There are many other observed benefits, too many to detail here, but they will make interesting individual analyses.

 

Kundalini (Kirtan Kryia)

Saa Taa Naa Maa

In the Punjabi language, this mantra means Infinity, Birth, Death, and Rebirth…. or

The cycle of Life.

It is the mantra intoned by Kirtan Kiryia Meditators.

Kirtan means Sing and Kirya means Exercise.

So what is so special about Kirtan Kirya?

  1. It shuts down the skin ageing gene.
  2. It is more efficient than MET (the gold standard for memory training) in improving memory.
  3. It lengthens your telomeres so you live longer.
  4. It is ridiculously easy…  requiring only 12 minutes per day of your valuable time.

I follow the Vipassana tradition of meditation so I was somewhat sceptical when Kirtan Kiria started to crop up in my longevity research.

But, I have been experimenting for the past week and I would like to share my impressions.

My first impression was that chanting Saa Taa Naa Maa out loud for 2 minutes, whispering for another 2, visualising for another 2, whispering for another 2, and out loud for another 2 was a silly waste of time.

But the vibrations of the repetitive chant were relaxing. At least as relaxing as doing a mental body scan to relax every muscle.

The Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation reports that clinical research has shown that practicing Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KKM) for just 12 minutes a day can improve cognition and activate parts of the brain that are central to memory.

As an added bonus, KKM will make you look younger and rejuvenate your skin by deactivating the NF-kB skin inflammation gene. It will also allow you to live longer by increasing your telomerase activity

How do you practice Kirtan Kriya?    

  1. Repeat the Saa Taa Naa Maa sounds (or mantra) while sitting with your spine straight. Your focus of concentration is the L form (see illustration), while your eyes are closed. With each syllable, imagine the sound flowing in through the top of your head and out the middle of your forehead (your third eye point).
  2. For two minutes, sing in your normal voice.
  3. For the next two minutes, sing in a whisper.
  4. For the next four minutes, say the sound silently to yourself.
  5. Then reverse the order, whispering for two minutes, and then out loud for two minutes, for a total of twelve minutes.
  6. To come out of the exercise, inhale very deeply, stretch your hands above your head, and then bring them down slowly in a sweeping motion as you exhale.

The mudras, or finger positions, are very important in this kriya (see illustration below).

  • 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.

SAA TAA NAA MAA

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