Meditation OM Chanting Causes Epilepsy or Cures? Research Study

Indian philosophical systems are meant as Paths to Self Realisation and any other benefit like Emotional calmness,physical fitness and well being are only spinoffs of these spiritual practices aimed at realizing Self.Indian philosophy understands the limitations of humans,both physical and mental and so has devised methods that function effectively within the limitations of human frailty and Hinduism never imposes anything that is strenuous either mentally or physically.Sri Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita that human body is precious and it has to be respected as God resides in it.Ancient Tamil Siddha texts, including Thirumandhiram by Thirumoolar declare that human body is A Temple One can realize Self with the help of this body which has Mind.Krishna declares that those who strain the body are following Rakshasa Tapas,that is one practiced by the powerful with not much of wisdom.It has to be avoided.

A point to note in Hinduism is that Mind unlike in Western philosophy, is considered as a sense organ and is not a separate entity.Mund had to be guided, channelized in a specific manner to achieve Self Realisation.Mind is not to be controlled consciously as the more you try to control, the more it would go out of control.So , the technic is to cheat the Mind,as it were, by appearing to go along with it and direct it subtly towards Self Realisation.This may sound gibberish, which it is not.This can be achieved by Discerning knowledge, Practice and strong Determination ,Gnana,Abhyaasa and Druda Sankalpa.I shall devote a post on this shortly.

In the meantime, let’s note that there are four broad paths suggested for Self Realisation.They are..

  • Gnana, Knowledge
  • Karma, Action
  • Raja,Highly Active physically
  • Bhakti, Total Surrender.

Gnana yoga is the intellectual approach, Karma Yoga is Rooted in Sacrifice of the fruits of Action,Raja Yoga is a process of disciplining the Mind through Physical exercises and Bhakti is totally emotional approach when one surrenders every thing to God.Though it appears simple Bhakti Yoga is difficult to practice if you do not have the required disposition.

In practice, all these form a whole in realising Self ,that is in every Yoga, the other yogas are present. However, the emphasis differs.So, when one practices Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga, the purpose is to stop the modification of the Chitta. To put it in simple world’s, stop the processes of Thoughts.That is the State Of Being.Self Realisation.

In this yoga process , beneficial physical and mental accrue.These are, as I mentioned earlier , are only side effects and not to be given too much importance.Performing Yoga as a Physical Exercise without the goal being Self Realisation is not Yoga.Such an approach is likely to bring in physical and mental problems.

However, there are studies which show that meditation, chanting of OM helps one Mental health,effectively manages Epilepsy.I had also published articles about the benefits of Yoga .

I am providing two views based on the research of the relationship between Yoga ,OM Chanting and Mental health, especially Epilepsy.The result is inconclusive.Whike a study suggests it aids in management of Epilepsy,while other view is that Meditation causes Epilepsy.My view is that we need more specific study on this subject.At the same time, I am of the opinion that if one practices meditation as it ought to be, as a tool for Self Realisation, these issues do not arise and become irrelevant. Don’t attempt to convert a Spiritual Sadhana into a Physical Exercise.

Proponents of meditation tout its ability to reduce seizures in people with epilepsy, while those more skeptical contend that regular practice of meditation could in fact induce epileptic seizures. So, how much of this debate is based on real clinical data and how much on opinion? To answer this question, writer, Jenna Martin, interviewed Erik K. St. Louis, M.D., Assistant Professor of Neurology Co-Director, Iowa Comprehensive Epilepsy Program and co-author of the recently published article, “Meditation and epilepsy: A still hung jury” 1 and another forthcoming review on the subject2.

Our interest in this subject was kindled by a young patient that I had seen who developed new onset mesial temporal lobe epilepsy, who lacked other epilepsy risk factors, and had been a lifelong practitioner of meditation.  I was aware of recent research that had shown evidence for physiological neuronal hypersynchrony seen on electroencephalograms (EEG) during meditation.  While I thought the potential relationship between her meditative practice and her development of epilepsy was probably no more than a chance coincidence, I started to review the literature and was surprised to see that there were a few previous (although nebulously described) case reports of potential associations of epilepsy with meditation.

Conversely, there were also small treatment trials demonstrating possible benefits of seizure reduction with meditative techniques.  Coincidentally, a few opinion pieces concerning epilepsy and meditation started to surface in the medical literature around this time last year.  There seemed to be two schools of thought on a possible relationship between meditation and epilepsy.  Some suggested the possibility that the neuronal hypersynchrony and “psychic” type mental imagery that may accompany meditation may actually reflect the occurrence of simple partial seizures provoked by meditation. On the other hand, many  proponents of meditation objected strongly to this suggestion, citing a few small past treatment trials that had suggested that meditation may reduce seizures in those with known epilepsy.

In this study, significant deactivation was observed bilaterally during ‘OM’ chanting in comparison to the resting brain state in bilateral orbitofrontal, anterior cingulate, parahippocampal gyri, thalami and hippocampi. The right amygdala too demonstrated significant deactivation. No significant activation was observed during ‘OM’ chanting. In contrast, neither activation nor deactivation occurred in these brain regions during the comparative task – namely the ‘ssss’ pronunciation condition.


The neurohemodynamic correlates of ‘OM’ chanting indicate limbic deactivation. As similar observations have been recorded with vagus nerve stimulation treatment used in depression and epilepsy, the study findings argue for a potential role of this ‘OM’ chanting in clinical practice.

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