What Can the Mantra Kirtan Kriya Do For You?

This post was inspired by an article I tweeted and read about in Psych Central titled, “Yoga Has Striking Benefits for Caregivers.” You can read the full article, here. But here’s a quick recap:

A study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles found significant improvements in depression and the mental health of Alzheimer caregivers after practicing a 12 minute yogic practice for eight weeks. This yogic practice included an ancient chanting meditation called Kirtan Kriya. They compared the yogic group to a group that used a relaxation CD every day to de-stress. Researchers found that of the yogic group, 65% of people had a 50% better score on a depression scale, and 52% had a 50% better mental health score. Compare this to the relaxation group, where people had  31%  better score on the depression scale and 19% had a better score on the mental health scale.

In this post I will explain how to do Kirtan Kriya. I’ll also explain what a mantra is and why they are practiced.

So let’s begin…

What is a Mantra and Why Are They Used?

The word Mantra is derived from the Sanskrit word Mantrai. Man means “to think” and “trai” means the “thought that liberates and protects.” Therefore, a mantra is a thought that liberates and protects.

A mantra is simply a sound, syllable, word or group of words that is repeated – either mentally or out loud – as a means of spiritual or positive life transformation. The ancient mantras were created to be a lens to the universe and an audio representation of the Eternal Energy.

By repeating a mantra, it is believed that you will tune yourself to the universe, align your energy to the cosmic energy and promote personal harmony.

Each mantra consists of six principles as listed below:

  1. Rishi or seer. Each mantra has been developed by a seer. These seers had opened themselves up to the Universe and received a mantra. They understood the power behind the mantra and passed this knowledge down Kirtan Kriya generation upon generation. As each ancient mantra was repeated billions of times by billions of people, the power behind the mantra increased.
  2. Raga or melody. It is believed that the frequency associated with each tone of a mantra is very important for a mantra’s overall effectiveness. As a result, its important not to change a melody or key if associated with a mantra.
  3. Devata or deity. Each mantra is associated with a deity. However, do not confuse the word “deity” with “God.” Rather than associations with a specific god, “deity” in this sense means a specific aspect of the Universe. To understand this better, imagine a large diamond. Imagine the diamond represents the Universe. Each facet, or side, of a diamond represents a deity or part of the whole.
  4. Biji or seed. The seed of a mantra contains its power. Just like a flower seed contains the potential energy needed to create a flower, the mantra seed contains the potential energy needed to release it’s spiritual power. By chanting a mantra, you are in essence “watering” the mantra seed – feeding it the food needed to blossom inside of you.
  5. Kilaka or pillar. This represents the willpower and discipline needed by a disciple to regularly chant the mantra. Imagine one meditative mantra session as one drop of water. One drop of water will never fill a glass – instead you need many thousands of drops. By chanting a mantra many thousands of time, you will be able to fill your “spiritual” glass. One time is not enough…
  6. Sakti or Power within the mantra.  The Divine energy is present within each mantra. This energy, or power, is released by chanting the mantra.

Each mantra has a different purpose. For example, some mantras are meant to protect and heal, others to promote peace or prosperity. Today I’m going to cover the powerful mantra called Kirtan Kriya…

Kirtan Kriya

Kirtan Kriya is one of the most important mantras in Kundalini Yoga.  This mantra is meant to restore balance to your life and break addictions. Here is the mantra:

  • Sa – means infinity.
  • Ta -  means life.
  • Na -  means death.
  • Ma – means rebirth.

How to do Kirtan Kriya:

To practice this mantra, come into Easy Pose (Phase 1 of Lotus Pose). Close your eyes and focus at the third eye – the space between the brows. Place the hands in Gyan Mudra – with the thumb and index finger lightly touching and the side of the hands resting on the knees. As you say the mantra, do the following hand mudras:

  • Sa – touch the index finger to the thumb
  • Ta – touch the middle finger to the thumb
  • Na – touch the ring finger to the thumb
  • Ma – touch the pinky finger to the thumb
  • Repeat this sequence. Each cycle should take 3-4 seconds, so don’t rush.

As far as timing, this mantra was taught to be repeated for 30 minutes. However, do not let this stop you from practicing. If you can only practice for 5 minutes – do just 5 minutes. If you do decide to practice for the entire 30 minutes, it should be practiced as such:

  • the first 5 minutes are said out loud
  • for the next 5 minutes the mantra is whispered
  • for the following 10 minutes the mantra is said silently in the mind
  • for the next 5 minutes, the mantra is whispered again
  • finally, for the last 5 minutes say the mantra aloud once again

This is a very powerful mantra when done regularly. It should ultimately be practiced once per day.

I hope you can find some time to fit this mantra into your daily yoga, exercise or meditation practice. It will most definitely pay dividends for your life.

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