Kirtan Kriya is a form of Kundalini Meditation that involves the recitation of songs or mantras, as well as mudras and, traditionally, even spiritual rituals. You might have heard of “Sa ta na ma” meditation, which is one form of Kirtan Kriya. In this meditation we bring conscious awareness to a melodic mantra. Not only is this incredibly relaxing, but it also has a positive effect on baseline happiness. Lets look at how to do it.
Steps for Kirtan Kriya
1: Sit with good posture.
Make sure your spine is straight but relaxed. Close your eyes but leave a very slight opening. Traditionally we would dress in pure white with a shawl. According to Yogi Bhajan, a person performing this meditation dressed in pure white “Will know the unknowable, see the unseeable”. Although you might want to take that with a pinch of salt.
2: Start to sing the mantra
While singing, focus on the sound of the mantra. You should sing with the proper melody, like so:
While singing, use the following mudras (hand positions):
2a: While singing “Saa”, touch your thumbs and index fingers together on both hands.
2b: On “Taa’, touch the middle fingers and thumbs.
2c: When you get to “Naa”, touch your ring fingers and thumbs.
2d: Finally, on “Maa”, touch the little fingers and thumbs.
Touching the fingers in this way is believed to bring mental health benefits.
- Index finger: Used for knowledge.
- Middle finger: For purity and patience.
- Ring finger: For vitality.
- Little finger: For communication.
3: As you sing each syllable, visualize the sound flowing through the chakras.
We now focus on the chakras one by one. If you are new to the chakras, you will want to read my guide to chakra meditation for beginners.
Otherwise, focus on the chakras in the following order:
- Crown chakra
- Third Eye Chakra
- Throat Chakra
- Heart Chakra
- Solarplexus Chakra
- Sacral Chakra
- Root Chakra
4: How to sing
- For the first two minutes, sing with your regular voice.
- Now sing for two minutes in a whisper.
- Now sing the sound inwardly (silently and only in your mind).
- Reverse the order above (go through the steps again in order c), b), a))
4: Take a deep breath and stretch your hands over your head. Now bring them down in a sweeping motion on the exhale.
Meaning of Kirtan Kriya
The name comes from two Sanskrit words: Kirtan and Kriya. We pronounce it “KER-tun KREE-a”.
“Kirtan” is a Sanskrit word that means narrative or story. This concept stems from Hindu chants and prayers [READ: Chanting meditation].
Originally, these would be sung to honor the gods. They would be accompanied by music and acting.
A “Kriya” is a set of practices used to achieve a specific outcome. These practices include breathing techniques and physical exercises.
Meaning of SA TA NA MA
When we do the Kirtan Kriya, we use the Kirtan “Sa Ta Na Ma”, which basically means “True Identity”. This is the meaning from Sikhism.
In yoga, it means something different:
- Sa: Infinity, cosmos
- Ta: Life
- Na: Death, change, transformation
- Ma: Rebirth
Ultimately, this interpretation represents the cycle of creation.
Benefits of Kirtan Kriya
Would you believe that just twelve minutes of Kirtan Kriya meditation can help you to heal? Specifically, it can create mental balance, longevity, and positivity.
Although simple, there is actually a lot going on in this meditation.
For instance, chanting a mantra can stimulate the 84 acupuncture meridian points that are located in the roof of the mouth. When we do this, we send signals to the hypothalamus part of the brain. This is the part of the brain involved with vital organs, sleep, hormones, hunger, and body temperature. And that’s just one part of this meditation.
We also have the mudras. When we perform mudras, we activate acupressure points in the hands that create positive states of mind. Plus, this exercises the motor areas of the brain.
And then we also get all the regular benefits of meditation. For instance, activation of the parasympathetic nervous system and reduced activity in the sympathetic nervous system. Ultimately, this helps us to relax and focus.
Improves Cognitive Ability
One scientific study shows that Kirtan Kriya benefits our brain and improves cognitive ability. The study asked participants to practise Kirtan Kriya for twelve minutes per day. After eight weeks, participants showed a 50% improvement in memory power. Plus, they also showed better mental clarity.
Improves Telomerase Activity
Research from the University of California Los Angeles shows that this meditation increases brain longevity. This happens because it boosts telomerase, an enzyme that can reverse cellular aging.
Researchers also state that it helps with memory loss and cognitive impairment. Because of this, experts like the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation consider it a potential aid for dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Reduces Stress and Depression
Some evidence shows that kirtan kriya improves blood flow to the brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps with stress and depression.
This meditation is a wonderful practice. When I use this method, I feel uplifted and joyful. It combines the best elements of singing with the best of meditation. And the result is a wonderful feeling of relaxation and wellness.
If you would like to learn this and other techniques, book an online meditation lesson with me today.
Giving Is Caring
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison