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.

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

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

I have found this to be a wonderful 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.

brain before Kirtin Kriya

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 after Kirtin Kriya

SPECT Scans courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation.

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.

 



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  10 comments for “Dr. Daniel Amen recommends Kirtan Kriya – the the SA TA NA MA meditation

  1. May 2, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Is it necessary to change the volume of the SA-TA-NA-MA, or can you just chant them the whole !2 minutes?

    In other words, why whisper and then do it silently? Is there a reason?

  2. May 11, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Good question Sam.

    The short answer is that the volume of the mantra corresponds to the three languages of consicousness:

    normal or loud voice: Human: the world

    strong whisper: Lovers: longing to belong

    mentally; silent: Divine: Infinity

    I’ll write a more complete description of the mantras and mudras.

  3. F Sandler
    May 19, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    What is the best way to keep track of how many minutes you’ve been chanting at the current volume? That is, the least intrusive or distracting method. Do you watch a clock? Or is there a set number of going through the fingers that works out correctly?

    • May 27, 2009 at 1:20 pm

      This is a good question.

      When I first started doing the Sa Ta Na Ma meditation I tried watching a clock, counting on my fingers and so on because I was concerned about the intrusive sound of a buzzer going off. But then I realized that I was more focused on the watching and trying to keep track of the finger counting. Heck I have a brain injury and juggling all this stuff was driving me nuts. hehehehe

      So I use a kitchen timer set to 2 minutes that I place close at hand. The timer has a simple start/stop button that I just have to touch twice. I don’t find it intrusive as it is now just part of my routine.

      There are meditation timers available that cost more than $100.

      Thanks for asking this excellent question. :)

  4. mary ann
    March 12, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Rhythm time for Kirtan Kriya

    There are a variety of CDs with this mantra. a really slow version was recommended to me. Felt wrong. Is there a speed recommended by Yogi Bhajan? I was always taught 4 4 time. 1 syllable per second. Is this correct? is this arbitrary?

  5. lisa
    December 21, 2011 at 7:42 am
  6. July 27, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    I found your article quite helpful, Richard, and thank you for sharing it.

    I also liked the comments: great questions, all on topic, and your replies were instructive. I’ve Pocketed your article and thanks to all! Blessed be. James

    • July 27, 2012 at 10:35 pm

      Thank you for your kind words James.

      I just visited your website Bright Wellness and will definitely spend some time there. Lots to read and learn.

      Thanks again for your kind words.

      Richard Ward

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