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Research Highlights

Korean Traditional Child-Play Found to Reduce Stress

  • October 13, 2010
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Korean Traditional Child-Play Found to Reduce Stress

Kang Do-Hyung’s Team (Dept. of Neuropsychiatry, SNU Hospital) Says Doridori Reduces Stress

One of the words Korean babies hear most after they’re born is “doridori (도리도리)”. It is a mimetic word for shaking the head left and right a definite number of times. Doridori, as well as ‘gonji gonji’ (poking the palm), ‘jiamjiam’ (making fists), ‘jakjak koong’ (clapping hands) and the like, are used to play simple games with or to lull babies in Korean society. Its origins can be traced back to the beginnings of Korean history to ‘dandongsibhoon’ (단동십훈:檀童十訓) which translates as ‘ten teachings to children’. According to dandongsibhoon, playing doridori with children teaches them to follow dori (도리:道理), the order of nature, as humans are like all things in the universe, created by the rule of heaven. Thus, these ancient Korean teachings for children are an empirical education method passed down from our ancestors.

The efficacy of these Korean traditional early childhood education methods have been published in an international scientific journal for the first time. On September 24, the Korea Institute of Brain Science (KIBS) announced that the results of the so-called ‘doridori investigation’ by Professor Kang Do-Hyung’s research team in the Department of Neuropsychiatry at Seoul National University Hospital were published in Neuroscience Letters, a renowned journal in the field of the neurosciences. Professor Kang’s results were presented in the July 26, 2010 issue of Neuroscience Letters, in his paper entitled “The effects of mind–body training on stress reduction, positive affect, and plasma catecholamines.”

Professor Kang, the chief researcher in charge of this investigation, explained, “The group assigned to the “brain-wave vibration” meditation based on Korean traditional moral culture demonstrated improved mental health as they showed more signs of reduced stress and positive emotional reaction than the normal healthy group.” “Brain-wave vibration” is a brain training program developed by the president of KIBS, Ilchi Lee (Korean name reads Lee Seung-Heon). Simple movements such as lightly shaking the head left and right are known to have a soothing effect on the mind and body.

This study, which consisted of 67 subjects who regularly engaged in mind–body training with “brain-wave vibration” based on Korean traditional child-play and the control group which consisted of 57 healthy subjects, measured stress levels, positive and negative emotional reaction, and plasma catecholamine levels including norepinephrine (NE), epinephrine (E), and dopamine (DA) in these two separate groups.

Measurements showed the meditation group experienced reduced stress and higher positive emotions than the control group. Moreover, whereas the control group demonstrated positive correlations between higher stress and a decrease in positive emotional reactions, this correlation did not emerge in the meditation group, suggesting a superior ability to handle stress. The outcome of the investigation overall suggests an association between “mind-body training” with “brain-wave vibration” such as Korean child-play, and lower levels of stress and a higher positive affect on emotions. The following is a basic introduction from the Korea Institute of Brain Science (KIBS) to doridori “brain-wave vibration” exercises you can try at home.

1. Close your eyes while sitting in an upright position. If sitting on a chair, do not lean your back against the back of the chair.

2. After relaxing your neck and shoulders, engage in doridori, shaking your head lightly from left to right. At the very beginning, shake slowly so that it takes about 3 seconds to move your head once.

3. When you consciously repeat the same movement, your body will feel the rhythm and the vibration will become stronger. Move your head left, right, up and down freely.

4. Continue concentrating on your movements. The vibration will spread to the rest of your body through your cervical spine (neck).

5. Repeat doridori for about five minutes before stopping. When the vibration in your body gradually dies down, focus your mind on your lower stomach.

6. Take a lengthy breath in and out three times.

Written by LEE BoYoung, SNU English Editor
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