Good for the Heart

To me, kundalini yoga is like practicing ballet just in your head.  Movements are controlled and precise.  Even your breath must be in synch for a seamless meditation.

The unwavering focus required for meditation is at odds with modern society. That’s why it feels overwhelming and so necessary at the same time.  It is a tool that helps uncover the best you.

I began practicing kundalini yoga and meditation because it felt right to me.  The more I study it, the more validation I find in conventional medicine.

Notes from Meditation as Medicine, by Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. and Cameron Stauth:

...every sound is also a vibration.  Particular vibrations can strongly stimulate the glands of the endocrine system, especially those located in the head and neck.  This includes the pituitary, the system's master gland, as well as the hypothalamus. (p. 28)

In one interesting experiment at the University of Arizona, my colleague Gurucharan Singh Khalsa, Ph.D., observed brain function with a PET scan and noted that during the chanting of the mantra "Sa Ta Na Ma," there was a strong shift in brain activity to the right frontal and parietal regions.  This shift indicated an improvement in mood and alertness. (p. 29)

When you meditate, your rational thought processes, housed in your cortex, begin a quiet dialogue with your brain’s emotional centers, the hippocampus and amygdala, both of which are in your limbic system.  When your cortex and limbic system agree that it is appropriate to relax, they relay the message to the hypothalamus, which connects the brain to the endocrine system.  This releases a flood of calming neurotransmitters and hormones, which soothe the entire body.  The immune system then secretes its own molecules of information, some of which return to the brain, helping to complete this circuitry of healing.  You shift into a relaxed alpha brainwave pattern, and your nervous system is dominated by the inhibitory parasympathetic branch.  When the parasympathetic nervous system is favored, you send relatively more nerve signals to your organs and glands of immunity, such as your thymus.  As this occurs you reach the ideal condition for healing—what mystics call the sacred space.  (p. 30)

I have just begun to dig up clinical research on meditation and yoga, but here is one more goodie to entice you to try it:

Transcendental Meditation's Effects on Heart Disease

I have practiced kundalini yoga for 3 months now.  I have heard fellow practitioners say that while it’s important to practice consistently, the cumulative effects of meditation are beneficial, too.
Beyond the proven healing properties of a consistent yoga and meditation practice, I just love the feeling of sitting down in "Easy Pose", rubbing my hands together, and placing them at my heart center.  I smile involuntarily because I'm saying "Hey me.  How's it going? You are important enough for me to sit down and listen to you.  What should I know today?"

Kriyas cannot be rushed.  In general, I like to rush and optimize.  It used to make me feel productive.  Kundalini yoga is not about plowing through exercises.  It is about moving thoughtfully.  Meditation is not just about chanting and thus clearing out the running narrative.  It's about being still and silent, as well.

I was reminded this week that we are not meant to be "happy" all the time.  If that were the case, I would be curled up in a large chair reading stories with a steady diet of chocolate croissants for eternity. Since I gave up on the notion that we would all be super shiny happy people, I decided to find a way to take a mini-vacation inside my head when I needed it. 

The best thing about all my findings so far, is that meditation is not a vacation.  It's a place that is always accessible.  The more you practice it, the more easily you can find your way there to act from a centered, loving perspective.

1 comment:

I would love to hear what you think!