Stress levels could be reduced simply by participating in some Gregorian chanting, researchers claimed today.
Dr Alan Watkins, a senior lecturer in neuroscience at Imperial College London, revealed that teaching people to control their breathing and applying the musical structure of chanting can help their emotional state.
He said: "We have recently carried out research that demonstrates that the regular breathing and musical structure of chanting can have a significant and positive physiological impact."
The research involved five monks having their heart rate and blood pressure measured throughout a 24-hour period.
Results showed their heart rate and blood pressure dipped to its lowest point in the day when they were chanting.
Dr Watkins pointed to previous studies that also demonstrated such practices have been shown to lower blood pressure, increase performance hormone levels as well as reduce anxiety and depression.
The lecturer also runs Cardiac Coherence Ltd, a company that helps executives perform under stressful conditions.
He said: "The control of the breathing, the feelings of wellbeing that communal singing bring, and the simplicity of the melodies, seem to have a powerful effect on reducing blood pressure and therefore stress."
"We have found that teaching individuals to control their breathing, generate more positive emotional states and connect better with those around them – all key aspects of Gregorian chanting – can significantly improve their mental state, reduce tension, and increase their efficiency in the workplace."
Record company Universal recently chose the monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz, Vienna to make an album after responding to a public interest in the genre.
The company also believes the Halo computer game series, available on PCs and Xbox consoles, sparked a resurgence in the music traditionally sung in male church choirs, as Gregorian chant-like melodies form the main soundtrack of the games.
Well, we already knew that....