Society has become much better at recognizing the importance of mental wellness practices. It’s now common knowledge that exercise, a healthy diet and quality sleep are essential to both physical and mental health. This is great progress, but many people overlook other ways to take care of mind and mood besides treating the body.
Mental hygiene practices directly improve mental wellness and go beyond simply managing stress. A wave of new research has demonstrated that implementing practices like meditation can increase mind-body awareness/mindfulness, raise self-esteem, improve concentration, strengthen memory and prevent depression.
An example that is trending for its effectiveness and accessibility is the Kirtan Kriya meditation. A type of meditation from the Kundalini Yoga tradition, Kirtan Kriya has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and dementia, while being beneficial to both mood and overall mental wellness.
Recent studies show the numerous mental health benefits of this non-religious, meditative practice. For example, researchers out of UCLA, West Virginia University, and the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation have used functional imaging studies, genomics, biomarkers, and neurocognitive testing to study the effects of Kundalini Yoga and Kirtan Kriya on individuals with cognitive decline over six months.
Intervention groups practicing Kirtan Kriya saw improvements to memory and cognitive functioning as well as improved mood and quality of life. These findings are supported by other research studies on the practice, with Kirtan Kriya meditation shown to improve blood flow to the brain, reverse memory loss and ease depression. The results demonstrate how Kundalini Yoga and meditative practice are beneficial for memory and may even stave off the symptoms of cognitive decline, which are often a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.
Practice from anywhere
Experiencing the benefits of Kirtan Kriya can happen in just six minutes of practice each day. Since yoga and meditation techniques can be done at home, it’s something that anyone can do to support their mental wellness. To make Kirtan Kriya meditations part of your mental hygiene routine, follow these steps:
Sit comfortably in a chair with feet flat on the floor or sit on the floor with legs crossed. The key is to be comfortable with the spine straight. Keep eyes closed and breathe naturally as the meditation unfolds.
Mantra or Chant:
The chant uses the basic sounds, “Sah, Tah, Nah, Mah”, taken from the Sikh words “Sat Nam,” meaning “my true identity.”
Mudra or Hand Position:
The thumb is touched to each of the other four fingers in sequence. Both hands perform the same sequence simultaneously.
When you chant Sah, touch the index fingers of each hand to the thumbs.
On Tah, touch your middle fingers to your thumbs.
On Nah, touch your ring fingers to your thumbs.
On Mah, touch your little fingers to your thumbs.
Sing the sounds “Sah, Tah, Nah, Mah” while performing the mudras sequence with the fingers of both hands. At the same time, visualize the sound flowing in through the top of the head and out the middle of the forehead.
For one minute, sing the sounds out loud.
For one minute, use a loud whisper.
For the next two minutes, repeat the sounds silently to yourself.
Then whisper the sounds for one minute and then sing out loud for one minute, for a total meditation time of six minutes.
To come out of the exercise, inhale very deeply, stretch hands above the head while stretching the fingers wide. Stretch the spine and take several deep breaths. Relax.
To learn more about the mental benefits of Kirtan Kriya and Kundalini Yoga, please visit kundaliniresearchinstitute.org.