The Science and Spirituality of Meditation – a documentary that offers perspective on how meditation affects the psychological, physical and spiritual aspects of the human body. The documentary was filmed over a five year period where they traveled and interviewed many different people of different standing and experiences to understand their relationship and ideas on meditation. The documentary is intended to be an unbiased presentation of meditation in general. Filmed by G Productions. Available for viewing on Amazon Fire Stick as of May 24, 2017.
We live in a time where we rely on science to explain everything. If science cannot explain it there is a chance we won’t take it seriously. Unfortunately, science can’t explain everything… at least not at the moment.
This documentary not only wants to help understand the scientific part of meditation but also the religious beliefs that accompany it.
Professor Fahri Saatcioglu from the University of Oslo (Department of Molecular Biology) explains that meditation is not just mental contemplation and visual thinking, it has an effect on the molecular structure and DNA encrypted in our bodies.
Dr Frederick Hecht, MD from the University of California San Francisco (Professor of Medicine) states that meditation has a direct effect on the cytokine genes in human tissue.
Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India
Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India – documentary visits an ashram outside of the city to discuss with attendees how meditation has directly affected them and their life. There are a few people there infected with HIV and they believe that meditation is helping them heal from this sickness. The man that leads the ashram is Guru Siyag. He believes that the meditation heals because it actives their kundalini. He states the kundalini lays dormant until it is awakened, which he assists with, and forces the kundalini to stand upright and awaken. He explains that in their philosophy of yoga the Sage Patanjali describes eight purposes of Yoga;
- Yama – ethics and moral code
- Niyama – study and self purification
- Asana – the yoga postures practiced
- Pranayam – the control of breath during yoga and all other activities
- Pratyahar – control of the senses
- Dharna – your intentions
- Dhyan – meditation
- Samadhi – thought and contemplation
Eight Limbs of Yoga
In yoga, the movements are all regulated by induced by the awakened kundalini. The kundalini sparks all the functions of the human body and helps them develop into something more productive and helpful.
Kundalini – Image found on Pinterest, Artist Unknown
Guru Siyag also believes that within all of us lies a feminine source of energy which he calls the kundalini. This kundalini is visualized to look like a serpent with its tail in its mouth and as the kundalini awakens it unravels and starts working its way up the direction of the spine. As it travels each chakra slowly awakens and is activated.
Different faiths have a variety of beliefs on how to awaken the kundalini but this particular ashram believes it can be awakened with the assistance of a spiritual guru, who in this documentary is Guru Siyag.
Many followers in this movie explain that they all experience involuntary movements when their kundalini was awakened and had no physical control over them. Their bodies would bounce, twist, stretch and move in ways they claim they didn’t do intentionally. They all believe that it is the functioning of the kundalini moving up along the spine towards the highest chakra which connects us to the universe as a whole.
In India the belief in meditation and the abilities of spiritual guru’s is so heavy that even physicians in the area recommend the Guru to help heal them of their illnesses; specifically in this documentary they state the Guru can help cure them of HIV.
One man claims he was advised by a physician to see the guru and practice meditation. He said that knowing he was going to die from HIV he saw no other choice than to give it a try. He claims that each day he meditated his illness and symptoms slowly started to disappear. He felt better as each day passed. The man provides documentation on film of his medical records showing the test results and also showing that he refused treatment from the doctor because of his faith in meditation as a cure.
San Fransisco, California, USA
San Francisco, California, USA – The visited San Francisco to talk about the biological effects that occurs during meditation and yoga. The Professor and Physician are trying to understand what we can do to maintain our health in ways that medication can’t do.
Dr Frederick Hecht, MD (Professor of Medicine, University of California San Fransisco) has seen that which meditation there is an effect on the cytokine gene that resides in tissue. He is aware that sometimes the state of mind can have a direct effect and create changes in the state of human body. These changes effect one another by allowing certain genes to be more expressed or activated.
Image of a Cytokine Gene
Genes are what define how we are built and structured. Genes are the deciding factors in what diseases we can inherit and/or develop.
They did studies of meditation using people who were overweight and during these studies they observed direct changes happening on the genes of those patients while meditating. They observed more response to diet and exercise if meditation was included in their health regimen. The genes being affected were those that control inflammatory response.
Oslo, Norway – There is a professor in Oslo Norway that has been studying the genetic effects of meditation and yoga that the documentary goes on to visit.
Professor Fahri Saatcioglu (Department of Molecular Biology, University of Oslo) explains the reason he decided to investigate the effects of meditation is because he learned of the genetic changes happening during studies of meditation. He wanted to understand it further – how it effects us on a molecular level.
The studies Professor Saatcioflu observed directly included people who learned and participated in a yoga program that included gentle yoga postures, powerful breathing exercises called prana yam and meditation. They practice this for two hours once a week.
They included another controlled regimen which was a one hour walk and a one hour of listening to music to the program to observe their effects as well.
They took blood from the patients, isolated the immune cells, then compared the gene expression patterns before and after the above listed practice for the controlled regimen. Based on the blood they collected they observed that there were approximately 4x more genes affected by the yogic practice than the controlled regimen listed above.
Meditation and Yoga directly affects our gene expression which is more than gentle exercise can do.
Fort Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India – google images
Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India – The documentary visits back in India to follow up with a follower of Guru Siyag, named Buddha Ram ji, to find out how the HIV recovery is going which happens to be 4 years after the initial interview. He states that he he has “become aware of the reality” after connecting with Guru Siyag. He says that meditation and yoga has helped him become more mentally and physically stronger. He is now running 10 KM in 44 minutes. He states he is still HIV + and hasn’t taken medication for many years AND hasn’t visited a doctor for the illness. He states that he didn’t believe Guru Siyag at first but continued meditating because he had no other choice and thought he was going to die. He now believes that meditation is the answer for all problems. He states that during meditation he undergoes “khichari mudra” where his tongue rolls up and goes to the pharynx which leads to a cold sensation throughout the entire body.
Guru Ram lal ji Siyag (at the time of the movie 89 years old) teaches Siddha Yoga Meditation completely free of charge. His only goal in life is to help people.
The film was created by Chayan Vinayak Goswami.