A world conference on science, consciousness and spirituality held in New Delhi noted the key findings of research conducted on the Sudarshan Kriya. Below is a simplified synopsis:
Dr Richard Brown from the USA has postulated that Kriya contributes to a state of alert calmness through its effect on the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is crucial in social bonding, empathy and love; it is the centre of our gut instincts and is crucial to our ability to perceive, observe and make complex decisions. Impaired vagal activity is found in people with depression, anxiety, panic disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, violent adults, post traumatic stress disorder, early Alzheimer’s and obesity.
2. Sleep like a baby
`Stephen Porges suggested that the different rhythms of breath in Kriya stimulates different fibers of the vagus nerve. This makes SKY unique and likely to have a much wider range of effects. Interestingly, brain wave rhythms during and after Kriya are similar to those of babies.
Dr Fahri Saatcioglu from Oslo did a 6-week study on the effect of Kriya on the relaxation response and feeling of wellness on 109 subjects. 56 of them went through the Art of Living course and performed Kriya daily for 6 weeks. The other 53 relaxed in an armchair for 15 minutes daily for the same period. 6 weeks later, a significant increase in the experience of wellness in the Kriya group was noted as compared to the ‘armchair’ group. There was a sharp decrease in anxiety, depression and stress and a marked increase in optimistic thinking in the Kriya group.
4. Live longer
Dr Neeta Singh from New Delhi studied the effects of Kriya on the genes that affect stress related pathways of the human body. She found an increase in vital antioxidant enzymes that are responsible for a longer life span and better protection against cancer.
5. Healthy heart, skin and blood pressure
Dr Stephen Larsen from the USA studied neurophysiological responses before, during and after Kriya. The tests run were EEG (recorded at 19 cortical sites), EKG, heart rate variability, galvanic skin response, hand skin temperature, pulse plethysmography and blood pressure. He found that Kriya practices produced significant changes in ALL physiological measures. It appears that over a period of time, the practitioner’s health becomes more robust, flexible and able to deal with the challenges of stress. This explains why regular practice of Kriya is very important.
6. Decreased work-related stress
Dr Vedamurthachar from Bangalore studied the effect of the AOL Course on occupational stress and anxiety among 60 software engineers. At the end of a month, the 30 engineers who took the AOL course showed a sharp reduction in anxiety and improvement in stress coping skills as compared with the 30 controls.
7. Sudarshan Kriya and vegetarian meals for good health
E G Lyulyakina from Russia studied the oral micro flora of SKY practitioners. She found that the number of microorganisms in lacto vegetarians were 2-3 times less than that in ‘non strict’ vegetarians. She concluded that practice of Kriya and a vegetarian diet reduces the microbial content of the mouth.
Dr Chiplonkar from Pune studied the lifestyle, behavioral and health aspects of 105 adults before and after undergoing the part I Art of Living Course. She found that majority of micronutrients showed a positive correlation with sattvic foods. After the practice of Kriya for 2 months, she found a significant reduction in anxiety, sharp increase in antioxidant capacity, reduction in triglycerides and a marginal reduction in oxidative stress.
Arielle Warner in USA studied the psycho spiritual benefits of Kriya were studied in women diagnosed with breast cancer. The subjects were evaluated 2 weeks before the Art of Living Course, 8 days after the Course and after 5 weeks of regular practice. A significant improvement in quality of life, spiritual well being, positive states of mind and perceived stress was observed after the AOL course and was maintained 5 weeks later.
10. Sudarshan Kriya rules over other similar yoga tools
Dr Janis Carter from Australia compared the effects of different modalities like Iyengar and Desikachar yoga, Qi Gong, Sudarshan Kriya Yoga and a multi-component yoga intervention (MCYI) in treating Australian Vietnam war veterans with long standing Post traumatic Stress disorder. She found that the interventions that used many tools of yoga viz. Sudarshan Kriya and MCYI showed the greatest efficacy.
Dr Patricia Gerberg from USA discussed the effects of doing the Art of Living Kriya program in a patient undergoing psychoanalysis since a long time. She found Kriya useful in healing negative past impressions and the `dissociation’ that rendered the patient unable to connect with others and with his own feelings.
It has come to almost everyone’s experience that Sudarshan Kriya is not just a physical breathing exercise. There is much more to it. Technique is one thing. Practicing it with faith, honor, respect and gratitude lends grace to the technique. Being aware of the supreme power that is governing every molecule in the universe multiplies the efficacy of the technique. There is absolutely nothing wrong in having an intellectual curiosity. Spirituality is not opposed to science, rather it complements. There are examples of eminent scientists like Einstein who recognized spirituality in science. In fact spirituality is the conscience of science. But I have realized, in life it is impossible to understand everything at the intellectual level. Life is a mystery to be lived, not understood. When something is beyond our comprehension, it is wise to drop questioning and start wondering. In my sixteen years into Art of Living, I have had multitude occasions just to wonder because there was no logical explanation available. Two people come to the course; learn Sudarshan Kriya along with other things. They have the same problem of hypertension for the same number of years and they both are almost the same age. While one gets completely cured within two sessions of Sudarshan Kriya, baffling his doctors, the other goes on battling the disorder despite regular practice. How do we account for it scientifically? What was lacking in the other person? Faith, trust, improper practice or was it just his karma? We have seen in Art of Living family people overcoming difficulties , be it health, relationships, finance or any other that was bogging him/ her just by being regular in sadhana, seva and satsang that burn the seeds of karma. Sri Sri RaviShankar has said recently that “Grace has the ability to change anything at anytime”. It is just a matter of time and having infinite patience with the belief that the best is going to happen to me and whatever happens happens for the best. The mind becomes free. We are miserable only when we not in knowledge.
If only we give the divine a chance to work for us! To my understanding, it is keeping the intellectual curiosity alive; doing what needs to be done and at the same time to drop the intellect and be in the space of surrender for the divine to do the needful is the trick to reap the benefit. It is a journey from the head to the heart.
Once we have caught the hang of it, it is time to spread the message. What could be more fulfilling than sharing joy, love, knowledge, life itself with our fellow beings! Sudarshan Kriya taught in the Happiness course opens up all the channels in our being that was hitherto undiscovered. As i walk on the path, it is new discovery every moment into the wonderful recesses of my own mind. I cannot stop wondering at myself with a witness consciousness! A self development program unparalleled.
Sudarshan Kriya yoga practice leads one to a wonderland of self discovery. A spirit of inquiry is kindled. Once it is kindled, it is kindled forever. Over a period of time, I have developed ‘witness consciousness’ to a large extent which helps me to be blissfully detached and at the same time give my all to what needs to be done.
An experience cannot be explained effectively in words. The only way to know how a pudding tastes is to eat it!
Knowledge is contradictory, truth is contradictory and life is a mystery!
A Guru is but an excuse for us to realize this. It is foolish to bind Him in relationships who are just an embodiment of Guru Principle.
The Guru principle or Guru Tatva is like an ocean. Some like to watch the ocean standing on the shore. Some like to walk in, get their feet wet and come back to the shore. The really blessed ones dive deep and will not stop till they gather all the pearls of wisdom the ocean has to offer.
This may take a second, minutes, hours, years or several life times/ epochs. So what!!!! Waiting with infinite patience and love itself makes life a true celebration.
Jai Guru Dev,