RESEARCH: Kirtan Kriya Effects Cognitive Function, Memory and Stress
In three separate studies published this year and in one that is on-going, Kirtan Kriya, as taught by the Kundalini master Yogi Bhajan, was shown to increase short term memory, cognitive function and to reduce stress. In separate studies at the University of Pennsylania, and one continuing at the University of California (UCLA), researchers measured cerebral blood flow in the brain (rCBF) using single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) to determine which areas are more active and which are less during the practice. One study compared long-term meditators to non-meditators. Another study compared those practicing the meditation with those who listened to a Mozart violin concerto. A third study compared the more active meditation to a relaxation exercise.
Kirtan Kriya is a 12-minute active meditation that include mudra (hand gesture), mantra (out loud, whispered and repeated silently), and visual imagery,
In the on-going study at UCLA, those practicing 12-minutes of Kirtan Kriya meditation are being compared with those using a 25-minute relaxation tape. Preliminary results from the 39 caregivers who have already completed the study (23 practiced Kirtan Kriya, 16 listened to a relaxation audio tape) indicate:
Both groups demonstrated improvement in depression and anxiety, resilience and perceived burden.
The meditation group improved significantly more compared to the relaxation group on measures of perceived support, physical suffering, energy, emotional and well-being, as well as in cognitive tests of memory and executive function.
A subgroup of the meditation group also showed marked improvement in the reduction of inflammation This groundbreaking work also reveals that Kirtan Kriya increases telomerase, an exquisite marker of health and longevity, in only 12 minutes a day.
In a study at the University of Pennsylvania, published in 2010 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease that compared Kirtan Kriya meditation to listening to Mozart, findings show:
CBF was increased in the Kirtan Kriya group in the frontal lobe regions and the right superior parietal lobe
In contrast, a non-significant increase in cerebral blood flow was seen in the music group in the amygdala and precuneus areas of the brain
The Kirtan Kriya group had statistically significant improvements in a neuropsychological test which measures cognition by asking subjects to name as many animals as they can in one minute
Improvements were also seen in the Kirtan Kriya group in three other cognitive tests that measured general memory, attention and cognition
There were no statistically significant improvements in cognition in the music group
Participants found the meditation to be enjoyable and beneficial and perceived their cognitive function to be improved
In the study published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine in 2010, researchers found an activation of rCBF on the posterior cingulate, which is associated with memory. This corroborates other studies that show cognitive improvement in memory after the practice.
For Links to these findings online:
Meditation Effects on Cognitive Function and Cerebral Blood Flow In Subjects with Memory Loss: A Preliminary Study
Cerebral blood flow changes during chanting meditation
Cerebral blood flow differences between long-term meditators and non-meditators
Meditation Use to Reduce Stress Response and Improve Cognitive Functioning in Older Family Dementia Caregivers Methods
For more information on Kirtan Kriya and the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation which has partially underwritten these studies, please visit
RESEARCH: MBSR IMPROVES ANXIETY
In a randomized controlled trial conducted at the University of Bergen in Norway, seventy-six self-referred patients were randomized to MBSR or a waiting-list control condition. Treatment completers improved significantly on all outcome measures compared to controls. The percentage of participants reaching recovered status was highest for symptom measures of depression and anxiety, and lower for worry and trait anxiety. The eight-week program includes mindfulness meditation, body scan and yoga. Participants meet each week and also practice on their own at home.
This study is soon to be published in Behav Res Ther. You can read the abstract here