Chanting the mantra Hare Krishna may help with schizophrenia. [Image: Toronto History | Flickr]
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A study has begun in which the preliminary findings show that chanting Hare Krishna may be used to treat schizophrenia. Dr Viveck Baluja (also known as Vinaya Gauracandra Das) is a neurologist at Henry Ford Hospital. He began the study by undergoing MEG (magnetoencephalography, which is a functional neuroimaging technique for mapping brain activity) before and after he chanted four rounds of the Pancha Tattva mantra, followed by half an hour of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra.

The findings illustrated that the brain “at rest” was still highly active, but activity was reduced after chanting.

“The data showed that the brain is not actually restful in the so-called resting state,” Dr Baluja told ISKCON News. “Your brain continues to constantly give you information. After chanting, however, the data showed almost no cortical activation, or brain activity. This is very interesting, because it shows that you’ve actually been able to calm down the brain.”

This is the desired effect when treating mental illnesses such as anxiety and schizophrenia. To achieve this effect of reduced brain activity, doctors are currently relegated to using anti-epileptic medication. If this research project proves successful, the treatment of mental disorders could reduce dependence on drugs.

“Voluntarily decreasing your brain activity is unheard of,” he says. “But our findings show that we can create the same therapeutic effects of medication by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. That’s very exciting.”

Dr Baluja was inspired to begin this project by his guru Jayapataka Swami and siksa guru Nidra Dasi. He’s working together with a team that includes his wife Padmaksi Sri Devi Dasi, as well as members of Jayapataka Swami’s medical team which is headed by Dr Achyutananda Das.

The preliminary findings with one test subject have garnered Dr Baluja and his team the approval to continue the research project. Their next step (which is already underway) is to conduct an anonymous survey of 95,000 initiated devotees across the globe – or any devotees who have been chanting for some years – on their experience with chanting the maha-mantra.

Once they’ve completed this survey, and further MEG testing on research subjects, the project can move on to its final phase: therapeutic chanting in a hospital setting with patients who have not chanted before.

To take the survey on your experience with the Maha Mantra and help gain support for Dr. Baluja’s study, please click here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Mahamantrasurvey

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