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Novice Meditators of an Easily Learnable Audible Mantram Sound Self‑Induce an Increase in Vagal Tone During Short‑Term Practice: A Preliminary Study
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) plays a vital role in regulation of the physiological processes during normal and pathological conditions. Heart rate variability (HRV) is regarded as a major indicator of the self-regulatory strength and balance of parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and sympathetic nerve system (SNS) impulses, as interpreted by the intrinsic nervous system of the heart. The present study focuses on the evaluation of the effects of audible and mindful practice of chanting meditation on HRV and on the cognitive disposition.
The subjects were randomly assigned to 2 different sounds based on monotone repetition. One was the Hare Krishna Mantram (HKM-Sanskrit experimental sound) and the other was a concocted sound (Sanskrit placebo). Changes in vagal tone were measured with respect to both time domain and frequency domains. Five-min baseline and postmeditation measurements were obtained on different days over the next 6 wk. The subjects who chanted the placebo/sham sound switched to the experimental sound at the 4-wk mark for the next 2 wk. All subjects completed an experience survey.
Paired t test results for all HRV parameters achieved statistical significance in the test group. Statistical significance in all the aforementioned measures of HRV was also observed on switching the control group placebo sound chanting to the experimental sound. HRV wave forms showed relaxation, a pattern and experience survey suggests an increase in attributes associated with higher self-regulation.
This study suggests statistically significant efficacy data and that a larger randomized study is feasible to test the potential of the audible repetition of the HKM in clinical settings. It may therefore enable beneficial lifestyle for health creation and thus play a role in the prevention of chronic diseases. Further, large scale studies are required for a better perspective on the effect of mantram repetition on the HRV.