Every practice of Sanatan Dharm/ Hinduism, the ‘eternal right action’ requires that,
- you remain in control of your breathing pattern,
- focus at your third eye
- and mentally recite a Mantra.
Unless these 3 conditions are satisfied you will not gain control over the pran/vital energy moving in your energy body. And if you do not control the pran, you will not be able to do anything else further.
If you do the breathing or the yogic posture/Asan without the accompanying Mantra, the Sadhana/practice becomes tamasic in nature. The energies invoked will be unmoving, dull and eventually discordant. You are working with your own personal energies, do not experiment. If you do make errors, you will suffer on the internal levels, you might gain physical health but spiritually you will remain nil.
Reciting the Mantra mentally is compulsory. Mantra is not ‘religious’. It is a form of the Universal energy, you are entraining your personal energy with it, so that you attain the Ultimate.
Now for doing Dhyan there are only 3 Mantra options,
- ‘Soham’- the best option if you want to experience Moksh – you mentally recite ‘So’ while breathing in and while breathing out ‘ham’ mentally. So together it is ‘Soham’. Anyone can do it without formal initiation from a living Guru.
- Or ‘OM’ – mentally recite one single OM as you breathe in and one single OM as you breathe out. This much can be done by anyone. (There is one another way of using the OM but you will need a proper enlightened Guru for its initiation)
- Or ‘Hamsa’ – mentally recite ‘Ham’ while breathing out and while breathing in ‘Sa’. Together it becomes ‘Hamsa’. This too can be done by anyone without any formal initiation.
‘So’ here is the Universal consciousness/ Param-atma and ‘ham’ is the narrow sense of self/ individual soul/ Jiv-atma.
- So = Sa + O = success, knowledge, accomplishment + eternal Anahata/unstruck sound (there is sound but nothing was struck to create it)
- Ham = Ha + M = Eternity + completion, endlessness, the Bindu – this is also a beej mantra when pronounced aloud as ‘hang’
When you breathe in, it is called Purak (filling). This is linked to ‘Sa’ (sa-kaar). When you hold your breath now it is called Antah Kumbhak (internal measure/base) this is linked to the vibration of ‘O’. When you breathe out it is called Rechak (emptying) this is linked to “ha’ (ha-kaar). And when you hold your lungs empty now this is called Bahya Kumbhak (external measure/base) linked to the ‘M’ vibration.
Kumbhak is the important part of breathing, here the inward and outward going breath are balanced perfectly and there is perfect stillness as described in the Vidnyan Bhairav Tantra. This is also the limit/joint, the conscious energy of Sandhya which is also called the Devi Mahamaya. She creates, maintains then destroys and is all pervading.
In the deeper Dhyan phases, the ‘sa’ and ‘ha’ Akshar somehow get ‘deleted’ and only ‘OM’ the primordial Nada remains. This will take some time but it will happen. You keep practicing and witness it when it does happen.
The Ida naadi is linked to the ‘Sa’ and the Pingala naadi to the ‘Ha’. When the ‘Ha’ and the ‘Sa’ get ‘neutralized’ (can’t find a better word) the OM remains. After this the Ida/ Pingala shut down and Sushumna naadi gets active. The pran from the Universe which enters through your third eye chakra moves into the Sushumna. It starts the process of ‘cleaning’ it out. Only when it is completely ‘clean’ and ‘through’, can the energy of self-identification /kundalini enter it and move through it till it reaches the top-most chakra, Moksh.
‘Soham’ is the energy which pulls the Kundalini up towards its merger with the Ultimate. ‘Hamsa’ in this sense would be the energy of manifestation and ‘Soham’, the energy of dissolution. Both are interlinked and equal in the real sense. For creation you need to have a dissolution first, then only can something be created. And for dissolution to happen you need creation in the first place which will be then dissolved. These two are very powerful mantra, but they still are defined. Each is defined in relation to the other, thus are not the Ultimate on their own. They are the link to the Ultimate.
The Ultimate is pure OM.
(How would you describe a pearl? White, small, round, pearly, iridescent, from an oyster, etc. But these terms describe its properties in relation to something else. They do not describe the pearl as such, stand-alone, on its own. Thus a pearl cannot be really described, or can it?)
Now these two mantras are also called the ‘Ajapa Gayatri‘. Ajapa means ‘not counted/recited’. Jap means to count and recite. If you pay attention to the ‘sound’ of your breath, it does sound like ‘so’ when breathing in and ‘ham’ as you breathe out. You are always reciting Soham when you are breathing, unconsciously. See, you are always reciting a Mantra as you breathe. Breath without Mantra is not possible. You do not realise it, but you are doing a 21,600 times jaap of Soham every day. But the trick is to be aware of this continuous sound of Soham. This awareness is called ‘Soham Yog’ or ‘Hamsa Yog’. Your Dhyan is the means to this goal.
When you recite Soham mentally with your breath you are ‘churning’ the internal pran/vital air with your focussed breathing, in and out. You are attracting the Ultimate consciousness by repeatedly calling out its name ‘Soham’ (it becomes OM later, your real name). And you are applying force on the closed door of the Sushumna by focussing on the third eye chakra. The door will open!
My Guru taught me the Mantra ‘Soham’ in this life 37 yrs ago. It is the simplest and safest means to achieve your spiritual goal, Moksh.
But do you have the Intention? How long will you Play till you decide to come Home?
Hi, thank you for this.
So can I add the ‘Soham’ into another practice, perhaps when doing my yoga which I’m beginning?
I’ve also come across variable enunciations of ‘OM’ from straightforward ‘OM’ to ‘Aum’ to ‘Aeioum’ which actually felt the most correct if that is the appropriate word, but was also very loud and forceful, so somewhat difficult to practice unless you could be completely isolated.
Does pronunciation matter if good intention is there? Obviously getting it right is better of course! But I’ve always just hoped that the Divine will look in my heart and see that I’m trying my best..
Soham is one of the two ‘Ajapa mantra’. If you are breathing, you are reciting the mantra with your every breath, albeit unconsciously. Every breath is one Soham. Life is counted in number of Soham, not in years.
The real spiritual practice begins when you consciously recite it with every breath. The objective is to recite Soham consciously with every breath in all states, awake/asleep/dream etc. You are supposed to consciously recite ‘Soham’ in every breath you take. This is the ‘Ajapa mantra’ part. Do it in any way, any where, all the time etc.
Now for the Dhyan part. Here you are actively using Soham in an yogic posture yogasan, focus on 3rd eye, 108 counts, mat/asan etc. This is not just Soham, this is ‘Sushumna yog’. You are directly working first on your pran and later Kundalini. This has to be done in a specific manner. So do not combine Dhyan with anything else. After you finish the 108 breaths, sit still in the same posture till your body absorbs the energy you generate. You are not supposed to do yoga/physical exercise etc after doing Dhyan. Do all this after a 2 hr gap, else you will damage ur nadis.
OM has to be pronounced as ओम् .. I think you can read the Devnagri script?
OM is not a word, it is a Mantra, the Pranav mantra, it is used to control pran.. the seed of all energy, so its not open to interpretation on how to pronounce!
OM has to be pronounced accurately else you will damage your nadis and the pran movement in them.. however do whatever you are drawn to..
here intention is irrelevant, as when you pronounce OM ओम् the intention is that you desire Moksha, this intention is intertwined in Om,
So Om-dhyan is for Sanyasis and gruhast like us are advised to use the Soham..
Thank you for clarifying!
Yes ‘Soham’ is certainly appropriate for my circumstances rather than ‘OM’- I am not in a position to renounce the householders life just yet🙂
I will re-read your article on ‘Dhyan’ (and the special Asan-mat) but I know at present I cannot follow this correctly, so will not start until I can. Certain things I believe, are too important and significant to be performed incorrectly so I will wait till that is possible to do properly.
The ‘OM’ query came about as I heard the two varying pronunciations from two well known ‘Gurus’ online, and because I recite ’OM’ within the Stotrams I was taught as a child, I wondered if I was pronouncing correctly.
I have read that the impact of the ‘OM’ is reduced when recited / put in front of, for example, the 108 names of your favourite deity, so I assume perhaps, this is where any incorrect pronunciation and effects on the nadis is reduced- hopefully. Perhaps re-listening to the enunciation of priests reciting will help me to pronounce correctly.
Many thanks for your guidance.
“you remain in control of your breathing pattern”
I didn’t get this statement. What is breathing pattern?
Once you start focusing your breathing speed slows down and even our voice of mantras starts reducing. After few minutes the whole activity becomes very silent… This is what my experience is.
“you remain in control of your breathing pattern”
means that you do not let any emotion, fear, or any other things around you affect the regularity of your breathing pattern
this happens in the initial stages of dhyan when you are just starting and also in awake life,
generally your breathing is dependent on your emotional and physical activity ..
slowing down of the breath and finally kumbhak happens after you have been practicing for some time..
thanks for this post. I am a newbie in world of conscious breathing and was thinking of finding a AJAPA mantra. Here I find Soham on your website (really grateful!).
Query: when we are working, speaking and/or watching TV (even with low volume) somehow breathing pattern gets disturbed or if you focus on breathing rhythm you may not listen/speak with full consciousness/saakshi (or being present). When in isolation or by oneself, it’s easy to maintain rhythmic breathing pattern and conscious breathing.
How to become better at conscious breathing rhythm/saakshitwa when surrounded by noise/others/work?
keep on doing it consciously as and when you can,
even if you do this much, the mantra will do the rest of it.. thts why its a mantra, once you begin it with intention it will do its job of pulling you more strongly