Blog Post

What's Wrong With the Sa Ta Na Ma Chant?

AP writes: " . . . Dr. Daniel Amen, a former Catholic (now Christian),  well-respected brain research psychiatrist, best-selling author, uses SPECT brain imaging to target treatment for his patients at his Amen Clinics in California.  He tries to use diet, supplements, exercise, and relaxation/breathing/meditation/self-hypnosis techniques before prescribing psychotropic medication.  

"But he is now recommending some questionable relaxation and meditation techniques that might not be spiritually safe.  For example, the following one is supposed to increase activity of the prefrontal cortex which helps with attention, forethought, and making good decisions.  He suggests that you chant these syllables (" 'sa', 'ta', 'na', 'ma' ") while touching your thumb alternately to the index, middle, ring, and pinkie fingers over and over for 12 minutes a day.  I looked up the meanings of sa, ta, na, ma chant and it's definitely new age (see article below) so I don't want to be involved with this but I would like to know if there is still spiritual danger of using the finger touches with a phrase like  " 'I' ,'love', 'Je', 'sus' ";  or  " 'Je', 'sus', 'mer', 'cy' ";   or  " 'Je', 'sus', 'is', 'my', 'Lord', 'and', 'Savior'".

"I am trying to keep my young daughter off of psychotropic medicines and would like to add anything that is not spiritually dangerous to her treatment plan as I do believe that Dr. Amen is on the right track with most of his recommendations as he backs them up with proven science."

As you can read in this blog there are numerous problems with Dr. Amen, not least of which is the controversial SPECT scan that he uses in his practice. A SPECT scan - which stands for single photon emission computed tomography - costs thousands of dollars. It involves the injection of radioactive material into a patient to produce colored pictures representing blood flow and/or chemical reactions in different parts of the brain. Amen claims SPECT can "rebalance" the brain but this has never been scientifically proven.

As for the Sa Ta Na Ma mantra he uses, this is hardly surprising because it is considered to be the most fundamental mantra used in Kundalini yoga.  Amen is a big promoter of Kirtan Kriya, a form of meditation that involves 12 minute meditation exercises involving chanting that has its origins in Kundalini yoga.

The Sa Ta Na MA mantra or chant is intended to help one realize their true divine nature and uses visualization techniques to activate the higher chakras (Crown and Ajna or Third Eye) and associated endocrine glands (pineal and pituitary).

This practitioner explains how it's done:

" As you chant imagine a continuous flow of energy from above, moving into the top of your head, the crown chakra, traveling in the shape of an 'L' to come out the front of your head at the brow point or third eye chakra. This 'L' visualization is said to move energy along the 'Golden Cord' the connection between the pineal and pituitary glands."

The mudras - or hand positions - are very important in this practice.

"On Saa, touch the index fingers of each hand to your thumbs," the practitioner explains. "On Taa, touch your middle fingers to your thumbs. On Naa, touch your ring fingers to your thumbs. On Maa, touch your little fingers to your thumbs."

The chanting is done out loud, silently, and in whispers, all of which has a deep spiritual meaning. For example, in an article provided to us by AP, we are told that "a powerful way to use this mantra is to chant it for two minutes in your normal voice, the voice of action, the physical voice. Then whisper it for two minutes, the voice of the lover, the mind voice. For the next three minutes, chant silently, in the divine language, your spirit voice . . . "

The finger positions supposedly bestow benefits such as the touching of the thumb to the index finger which gives wisdom; the middle finger to the thumb which gives focus; the ring finger to the thumb which gives energy; and the little finger to the thumb gives connection.

Yogi Bhajan, who teaches and promotes kriya says that anyone who practices it for 2.5 hours a day for one year "shall know the unknown and see the unseen."

Using this type of meditation has only one goal - to bring a person into an altered state of consciousness, which leaves them vulnerable to the influence of dangerous spiritual entities. It is the chanting, more than the specific words, that makes this happen, so just substituting Jesus' name will not prevent you from entering this altered state.

My advice is to find another psychiatrist and leave both Daniel Amen and his ideas out of your daughter's treatment plan. Allison Ricciardi at Catholic Therapists may be able to help you connect with a more appropriate provider.