A mantra is a repeated word or phrase. Mantra meditation is a method of dropping into connection with whatever the mantra calls up. It can be a powerful way to quiet a busy mind by giving it something affirming and positive on which to focus. The technique can be as simple as repeating a chosen statement in your mind.
The Sanskrit mantra “So hum” is offered by my teacher Dr. Vasant Lad as an appropriate mantra for householders (those who have responsibilities in the external world). “So hum” literally means, “I am that.” It implies the idea, I am one with the all-encompassing universe, or Nature, or the divine. For this practice, if you prefer to use an English mantra, you can try, “I am home.”
Do not expect any particular results from this practice. The technique of meditation is a rejuvenative in itself. Let this be a time of vacation from daily thoughts or worries, and simply rest in the steps as outlined below. Know that you are supporting your mind and body in their natural self-healing process.
Listen to this guided practice, or read the instructions below.
Clear a space and a time when you can be undisturbed. Sit with your spine tall on a chair with both feet on the ground, or on a cushion on the floor. Be comfortable, and keep your spine upright without slouching. Set a timer if you wish, so you won’t be wondering about the time passing.
Begin by relaxing any tension you can find in the body. Let your breath slow down. Then bring your attention to the following three anchors.
- Breath. First focus your attention on the natural breath. Let your breath be easy and smooth. Notice the inhale, followed by a pause at the top before the exhale begins. Observe the exhale, followed by a second pause at the bottom. Let your mind rest in the pauses.
- Mantra. Begin to repeat the mantra in your head, hearing the sound “So” on the inhale. Let the “So” last as long as the inhale lasts. Then feel the pause. Then hear the sound “Hum” for the length of the exhale. Again, rest in the pause.
- Visualization. On your next inhale, imagine tracing “So” from the base of the spine up the front side of the spine all the way to the crown. When the exhale begins, trace “Hum” down over the face passing the third eye and cross at the throat to the back, and descend down the back side of the spine. Rest in the pause. Then trace “So” back up the front side of the spine. Continue in this way. (If this visualization feels too complicated, simply inhale “So” up the front of the spine, and exhale “Hum” down the back of the spine.)
When the mind wanders away, as it will, gently lead it back to one of the 3 anchors without judgment or criticism. There is nowhere to get to, no goal to achieve. Just notice you have wandered, and return to repeating “So” on the inhale, and “Hum” on the exhale. Rest in the pause.