Kirtan Kriya for People Living With Dementia

A lot of dementia caregivers wonder if kirtan kriya can help their loved one/care recipients/ or clients with dementia. I did some research to find out if it can. I have also shared some information about this ancient meditation technique

What is kirtan kriya?

Kirtan Kriya is a type of meditation that combines chanting and hand movements. It is a practice that originates from the Kundalini Yoga tradition and is believed to have many physical, mental, and emotional benefits. 

The purpose of Kirtan Kriya is to quiet the mind and promote relaxation, mental clarity, and emotional stability.

In Kirtan Kriya, the practitioner sits comfortably and repeats a specific sound or mantra while moving the fingers in a repetitive pattern. The repetition of the sound and the hand movements are believed to help activate the brain, promote relaxation, and improve mental clarity.

Some of the potential benefits of Kirtan Kriya include reducing stress and anxiety, improving mood, promoting better sleep, and boosting cognitive function. I will discuss the benefit in detail, further in this article. 

Typically, this form of meditation lasts for 12 minutes and can be done once or twice a day.

While there is limited scientific evidence to support the benefits of Kirtan Kriya, some studies have suggested that the practice may have potential benefits for mental and emotional well-being.

Overall, Kirtan Kriya is considered a safe and simple form of meditation that can be done by people of all ages and abilities. 

This simple practice can be easily learned and incorporated into daily life, making it accessible to seniors with varied backgrounds, and spiritual beliefs.

How do kirtan kriya benefit people living with dementia?

kirtan kriya benefits

Here are some key ways Kirtan Kriya may benefit people with dementia:

Better cognitive function

Studies have suggested that Kirtan Kriya may improve cognitive function, including memory and attention, in people with dementia. The repetitive motions and chanting are thought to help stimulate the brain and improve mental clarity.

Mood enhancement 

Kirtan Kriya has been shown to have a positive impact on mood and emotional well-being in people with dementia, potentially reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Improved sleep quality in older adults

Kirtan Kriya may also help improve sleep quality in people with dementia, potentially reducing symptoms of insomnia. This practice may also promote a restful and rejuvenating sleep experience.

Better stress management and relaxation

As you already might know, people with dementia may experience high levels of anxiety and agitation. The meditative aspect of kirtan kriya helps promote relaxation and reduce stress. The repetitive chanting and hand movements involved in kirtan kriya can be calming and relaxing.

Better quality of life

By improving cognitive function, mood, sleep, and relaxation, Kirtan Kriya may help enhance the quality of life for people with dementia. It offers a feeling of goodness as the patient is immersing themselves in a spiritual practice of the highest level. 

Natural brain stimulation

The combination of chanting and hand movements involved in Kirtan Kriya may help stimulate different parts of the brain. It also promotes mental clarity in people with dementia— no more brain fog.

How to perform kirtan kriya?

Here’s a step-by-step guide to performing kirtan kriya:

Step 1

Choose a quiet, comfortable place, where you won’t be disturbed. You can sit in a chair or on a cushion on the floor, whichever is most comfortable for you.

Step 2

The mantra used in kirtan kriya is usually the word “Sat Nam,” which means “truth is my identity.” Begin by chanting the mantra out loud, using a simple, rhythmical tone. You can also chant the mantra silently to yourself if you don’t want to bother others in the home.

Step 3

As you chant the mantra, move your fingers in a specific pattern. Start by touching the tips of your thumbs to the tips of your index fingers, then move your hands apart. Repeat this pattern for the entire duration of the meditation.

Step 4

As you chant the mantra and move your fingers, focus on your breath. Take slow, deep breaths, and allow yourself to be present at the moment.

Kirtan kriya is typically performed for 12 minutes, although you can adjust the duration to suit your individual needs. Set a timer to ensure that you don’t lose track of time.

Step 6 

When the timer goes off, stop chanting and sit quietly for a few moments. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, focusing on the sensation of the breath moving in and out of your body.

It’s important to be consistent with your kirtan kriya practice, performing it at the same time each day, if possible. With time and practice, you may find that kirtan kriya becomes an integral part of your daily routine, helping you to maintain a sense of calm and balance in your life.

Are there any side effects of kirtan kriya?

Kirtan kriya is considered a safe meditation practice and is generally well-tolerated. However, like any meditation practice, it may cause some temporary side effects for some seniors:

Emotional distress

Kirtan kriya may trigger strong emotions or memories that can be difficult to process for some seniors with Dementia. This can cause feelings of anxiety or sadness, but these feelings usually pass quickly.

Physical discomfort

Some seniors may experience physical discomfort during kirtan kriya, such as muscle tension, headaches, or fatigue. This can be resolved by adjusting your posture or slowing down your movements.

Mental confusion

I know I earlier said kirtan kriya can create a state of mental clarity, but for some people, it can also cause confusion or disorientation. This can be resolved by slowing down your chanting and focusing on your breath.

Sleep disturbance

Kirtan kriya may cause sleep disturbances in some people, especially if performed just before bedtime. This can be resolved by adjusting the timing of your practice.

What does the research say about kirtan kriya?

Kirtan kriya has been the subject of several research studies in recent years, particularly in the areas of mental health and aging. 

As of 2023, more research is needed to fully understand the effects of Kirtan Kriya and to establish its efficacy for various health conditions. 

However, current research suggests that kirtan kriya may be a useful tool for promoting overall health and well-being, particularly for people with stress-related conditions and age-related cognitive decline.

Final word

It’s important to note that while kirtan kriya may have potential benefits for people with dementia, it should not be used as a substitute for conventional medical treatment. Always consult a doctor before starting a new treatment.

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