12-minute meditation can save your memory

When you first notice your memory starting to slip, it’s alarming. Why can’t you remember the name of the person you just met? Or the movie you just saw? And, most importantly, does it mean you’re on the path to Alzheimer’s?

Well, the truth is, those early signs of memory loss could spell trouble for your cognitive health in the future…

In fact, scientists have identified several stages a person goes through on the path to Alzheimer’s or dementia. And the earliest of those stages is called subjective cognitive impairment…

This is the stage where you begin to notice a difference in your memory or thinking skills but others around you don’t notice them.

You may even visit your doctor because your memory isn’t up to snuff.  But he or she will probably reassure you have nothing to worry about. That’s because subjective cognitive impairment isn’t detectable in a doctor’s examination.

But you shouldn’t brush off those early changes in your memory and thinking skills. Instead, you should take a proactive role in improving your cognitive health so your fuzzy memory doesn’t turn into mild cognitive impairment (a precursor to Alzheimer’s that is detectable in a doctor’s examination) or, worse yet, Alzheimer’s itself.

The question is… how do you revitalize a weakening memory?

Well, I’d suggest you begin where the scientific research leads you. And the latest study from West Virginia University is leading you to the nearest meditation cushion…

Meditation, music and memory

Mediation is well-known for providing brain benefits like stress-reduction, anxiety-relief and improved moods. But it can also help you reverse the early memory lapses you experience with subjective cognitive impairment…

In their latest study, West Virginia University researchers split 60 older adults with subjective cognitive impairment in two groups. They had half of these older adults dedicate 12 minutes per day to meditation and the other half spend this 12 minutes listening to music.

After three months, people in the meditation group experienced significant improvement in subjective memory function (their perception of how well they were remembering things) and objective cognitive performance (their memory and thinking skills as gauged by a test). They also fared better in areas like sleep, mood, stress, well-being and quality of life.

But there’s more good news…

People who listened to music improved in all of these areas too. The improvement was a little less dramatic than in those who meditated, but it was still improvement. That means, even if you’re not into meditating, you can try the musical approach to improving your memory.

But there’s one more piece of good news… both the meditators and the music listeners maintained these improvements three months after the study ended. So, setting aside daily time for meditation or music listening appears to have a lasting effect on your memory.

Starting a daily meditation

For those of you who would like to start a daily meditation practice, this study gives you all the more reason to do it right now. There are many meditation styles to choose from. But participants in the study practiced Kirtan Kriya meditation.

Kirtan Kriya meditation is a chanting meditation that originates in India. To do a Kirtan Kriya meditation, all you need to do is sit up straight and chant the mantra “Saa Taa Naa Maa” — which roughly translates as the cycle of life — at varying volumes. There are some finger movement you have to learn to, but here is a video that will make it easy for you to get started. It’s 12 minutes long… short enough to fit into your daily schedule, but long enough to give you the some major memory benefits.

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  1. “Subjective Cognitive Impairment: The Next Big Thing?” Medscape. http://www.medscape.com. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  2. “Meditation and music may help reverse early memory loss in adults at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.” MedicalXpress. https://medicalxpress.com. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  3. Kim E. Innes, et al. “Meditation and Music Improve Memory and Cognitive Function in Adults with Subjective Cognitive Decline: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2017.
  4. “7 Ways Meditation Can Actually Change The Brain.” Forbes. http://www.forbes.com. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  5. “Kirtan Kriya.” YouTube. Yoganomi. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcAIdGUpl-c. Retrieved January 24, 2017.



Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.