Lately, it seems about a million new types of meditations have been invented and popularized. I get asked about a lot of them and while I don’t address every single one, Humming Meditation is one that seems to come up time and time again. Unlike a lot of other new-age types of meditation, using the voice in various ways — such as chanting, singing, or saying a mantra — has been around for thousands of years. And it’s not too hard to make the connection between saying Ommmmmmmmmmmm and humming Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Here I’ll talk about the pros and the cons of Humming Meditation.
What Exactly is Humming Meditation?!Humming meditation isn’t just walking down the street humming along to your favorite song. While that may be meditative, relaxing, and enjoyable, it is not meditation. Meditation is about retraining your mind to be more aware, conscious, peaceful, and joyful. It’s about transforming the way you experience the world long after the meditation is over. To practice Humming Meditation, begin as you would any other meditation:
- Close your eyes
- Sit upright in a chair or on the floor
- Take a few deep breaths into your belly
- After your third or fourth inhale, exhale out a long slow hum. Some people like to put their thumbs over their ears and their fingers on their forehead for extra vibrational sensations.
- Continue humming with each exhale for five minutes
- Then, sit for two to three minutes just observing on your breath
- Slowly open your eyes
Pros Of Humming MeditationUnfortunately, there is very little scientific evidence as to the benefits of humming meditation. However, there are a few indications of its benefits. For one, many people have tried and found it to be very easy and relaxing. While there are no studies yet on Humming Meditation, there is quite a large body of research as to the benefits of repeating “Om,” as well as religious chanting. Several studies show that repeating “Ommmmm” can stimulate the vagus nerve — a nerve in the back of our throat connected to many important organs such as our lungs, heart, and gut. The vagus nerve is responsible for our body’s resting, digesting, and healing from stress. “Om” meditation shows promising results for helping our bodies heal, reduce stress, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and sleep better. Moreover, in one study, repeating “Om” was shown to decrease activity in the brain’s limbic system which is responsible for stress and depression. Not only this, but, religious chanting has similarly been proven to lower stress, stabilize cardiovascular function, and activate frequencies in the brain associated with transcendental bliss and selflessness. In the little bit of research, we do have on humming, it shows to improve sinus health. While the science is still out on pros and cons of humming meditation, what we do know is that the vibrations from repeating “Om” have a positive effect on the brain and body. The vagus nerve is very important to our overall health and humming may be a great way to stimulate it. Other methods for stimulating the vagus nerve include:
- Deep, full, belly breathing
- Connecting with others
- Cold exposure
- Singing or gargling
- Omega 3’s
- Mindfulness and Loving-Kindness Meditation
- “Om” Meditation
The Cons Of Humming MeditationWhile studies exist that show Mindfulness and Loving-Kindness Meditation activate the vagus nerve, there is just not as much data on Humming Meditation. In addition to this, Mindfulness Meditation comes with all the benefits that Humming Meditation claims, plus the added benefits of greater awareness and focus, more presence and peace, more patience and gratitude. While “Om” Chanting and Mindfulness Meditation require no set belief system, the couple who popularized Humming Meditation often speak of things that do require a leap of faith, such as chakras, heart activation, energy fields, the Gaian matrix, and planetary healing. The fact that Humming Meditation cannot be easily done in public, the fact that it doesn’t raise our level of awareness or focus, and the fact that there is nobody of evidence confirming its efficacy, I personally have to recommend “Om” Chanting as the best way to stimulate the vagus nerve through vibrational humming. Although Humming Meditation may in fact have some important benefits and would be a great addition to someone’s daily practice, it’s no substitute for meditations like mindfulness, vipassana, mantra, breath awareness, body awareness, or even “Om” chanting. When we say “Om,” the “o” sound really forces our vocal cords to open so that when we move on to the “m” sound, our voice can produce a much greater vibrational force. So, go on and give Om a try and let me know what you think. If you absolutely love your Humming Meditation, keep it up. Loving what you do is the name of the game.
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