Autonomic Changes During Om Meditation



Shirley Telles, Nagarathna R., and Nagendra H.R.
Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation, Bangalore, India.
(Received on July 19, 1994) 

Abstract: The autonomic and respiratory variables were studied in seven experienced meditators (with experience ranging from 5 to 20 years). Each subject was studied in two types of sessions – meditation (with a period of mental chanting of “OM”) and control (with a period of non-targetted thinking). The meditators showed a statistically significant reduction in heart rate during meditation compared to the control period (paired “t” test). During both types of sessions there was a comparable increase in the cutaneous peripheral vascular resistance. Keeping in mind similar resulta of other authors, this was interpreted as a sign of increased mental alertness, even while being physiologically relaxed (as shown by the reduced heart rate).

Key words: Oxygen Consumption; Metabolism; Yoga; Meditation


Mentally chanting “OM” was shown to increase the efficiency with which sensory information was processed in subjects with more than 10 years of meditation experience, whereas mentally chanting “one” had the opposite effect (1). These changes occurred mainly at the mesencephalic or diencephalic level. Another study of 7 proficient subjects (3 of whom had 20 years experience of meditation), revealed that mental chanting of “OM” activated higher neural centres, i.e. the association cortices (2). Mental chanting of “OM” leads to a single thought state, and a subjective feeling of deep relaxation. Hence the present study was carried out to find out whether “OM” meditation would also cause changes in the autonomic and metabolic functions of the seven experienced meditators whose neural responses to the meditation were described above (2).

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