A demo – Effect of Chanting on our mind & nervous system

Studies have down that singing, humming and chanting has significant impact on our nervous system  (autonomic nervous system) and the mind !   The study clearly indicates how the breathing rate (shown in dotted lines) and heart rate variability are in sync during Mantra Chanting ! This denotes a well balanced autonomic nervous system (and a balanced nervous system is a critical requirement for us to be in balanced and good mood. It also denotes healthy state of mind (which drives health body).

Our attempt to replicate this !

We decided to do a simple experiment and requested one of our workshop participants to (a) Chant (b) Breath slowly at 5 breaths/min and (c) Sing a devotional song. The effects – as seen in the visual below – tells a story.  Chanting has the best effect on our nervous system (as shown by large variations in our heart rate). Slow breathing is also good but the song (while it is better than being angry or sitting idle) was less effective compared to chanting or slow breathing.

Source: This was recorded during Sound Healing Practitioner workshop in Singapore (Nov 2016)

How did we measure this?

Heart Rate Variability (variations in beat-to-beat intervals of our heart rate, also known as R-R interval) indicates our state of autonomic nervous system. If the variations are bigger, our autonomic nervous system is stronger, more balanced.  We used a simple sensor to measure the RR ratio (from HeartMath Institute)

What’s in it for you?

Please spend 5 mins during morning and evening doing some form of chanting (repetitive mantras) or very slow breathing (ideally 5 breaths/minute). Notice how it calms your nerves and makes you relaxed and alert !  Of course, each person is unique and hence this method needs to be calibrated based on how each person’s body structure and system.

Specific examples:

This individual was not able to breathe in an effective manner (this means the person needs to exercise more and learn breathing techniques and also manage the stress since that could be a component !).  In such cases, the person is better of doing chanting versus focusing only on the breath – for several reasons which would take another blog to capture. Check out the visual here (measured using Emwave Pro device)
Figure 1: Chanting versus breathing at 8, 10 and 12 seconds. 

Figure 2 – Heart Rate Variability during (a) Normal sitting posture (b) Breathing and (c) Simple chanting (humming sound) for 4 individuals (notice how chanting enhancing HRV parameters)

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Gunjan Trivedi : gunjan@wellness-space.net