Answering questions on doing Dhyan

I wrote this post on doing Dhyan using the Ajapa mantras Soham or Hamsa or OM. I have in fact written several posts on spiritual practice and the mantra you use when you do these (do use the index page to locate them). There were some questions so will write a bit more in this post.

‘Look’ at your third eye chakra while doing Dhyan.

The mind has to be trained to stay still, to stop its continuous whirring. So you have to focus at one single point, ie the point where the Sushumna, Ida, Pingala Nadi merge, ie the third eye chakra. The Ajnya chakra आज्ञा चक्र is the only point where you have to focus on always and ever. This will grant stability to the mind/ Manas with time. Ajnya आज्ञा is a Sanskrit word which means authority, unlimited power, command, to order, rule, to grant permission, to perceive, principal, assurance etc. Your lower 5 chakras are controlled by the Ajnya chakra in ever way possible. So when you focus on your Ajnya chakra and do your Dhyan, you power it here. Then the Ajnya chakra automatically distributes the power generated to the lower chakras as per requirement in the gentlest and safest manner. The lower chakras then distribute it in their associated nadis. So the entire energy body benefits.

Some people have this misconception that while doing Dhyan, the focus should shift, ie they focus on each one of the lower chakras in sequence, up and down the back! This is not how it works. Such a practice creates instability in the mind and causes jerks in the flow of pran in the nadi/ chakras which ultimately damages them. If you do this up and down thing or focus on specific lower chakras while doing your 108 breath/mantra combo, there is a clear danger of overloading the lower chakra and causing its associated nadis to fry. Always focus on the Ajnya chakra for your Dhyan and not on the lower chakras.

(You can do focussed chakra healing. This is different from Dhyan. I have written on doing the chakra healing in this post here.)

Then there is a particular Dhyan method given in the Vidnyan Bhairav tantra where you focus only on the Brahmarandhra for the 108 breaths. But do not do this unless your Sat-Guru sits before you physically and guides you while you are doing it. Else you can mess up your nadi/chakra system so badly that you might not only kill yourself, but also spend the next few lives insane recovering from the damage. This is a very intense method taken up by Sanyasis who have formally left the material world. It is not for householders like us.

Temples in India where I have been to

Dhyan is not ‘mediation’, you do not relax when you do Dhyan. You do not float up in dreamy clouds as shown in popular culture. What you are doing is very actively and intentionally manipulating the Pran in your Nadi/Chakra system. Pushing more and more pure Pran into your energy body, the pran-mai-kosh. Doing Dhyan is the same as fighting the War of Kurukshetra within, it is called Karma-yog and the entire Bhagwat Gita talks about this internal war.

So do not experiment, be very alert, focus your attention at your third eye, do your 108 mantra/breath combo. And do your practice regularly.

Next is how to ‘look’ at the Ajnya chakra. If you have noted, I always use apostrophes around the word ‘look’ like ‘look’ at your Ajnya chakra. This means that you are supposed to inwardly focus your attention at your third eye. You are not supposed to roll your eyeballs up and try to physically look at the middle of your forehead! If you do this, you will get eye-strain and create problems for yourself. So imagine that you are sitting on a mountain and looking straight at the far horizon. Your physical eyes have to remain straight, relaxed and unfocussed. Do not force your eyes to go cross eyed or roll them up or squint, scrunch your eyes or anything. If you think your eyeballs are rolling up, bring them back down gently. Do not strain your eye muscles. Dhyan is an internal thing, your physical eyes are nowhere in the picture. People who are blind or do not have physical eyes also do Dhyan as it has nothing to do with the physical eyes.

Soham, Sushumna Yog and the Sat-guru

And its a two step process.

I have stressed in all my posts that you should do your 108 breaths with your mantra as a first step. Then sit for some more time in the same pose, ideally for 30mins at least. This second part is an important part, do not skip this. You have trained your mind with your 108 breaths and now you have to immediately test it. Has your mind learnt to focus? Has it absorbed the efforts of your 108 breaths? In this second phase think of nothing. The mind has to be blank. You are enjoying the energy of your 108 Mantra-breaths, the mind cannot be allowed to interfere in this. The mind cannot think anything, not even your Dhyan-mantra. It is a truly delightful phase as the constant whirring of your mind slows/ stills and you are refreshed from the inside. You are brought to the possible state of internal health and happiness. You absorb pure pran while you do Dhyan, and this refreshes you more than the sleep, Swapna and Sushupti states.

Also you will see visions from your past lives, future events, your deity may give you a Darshan, bursts of color, white lights, geometric stuff, sounds, anything. You might see things which might make you emotional, secret stuff might be told to you etc. Just observe and let it go. Do not let the mind start working while you are enjoying this part two. This part two will test how well you did in your part one of the Dhyan process.

Advaita 18-66 Bhagvat Gita Part-1

Now which mantra to use.

I stress on the Ajapa mantras, Soham/ Hamsa or the pure OM, as these are naturally embedded within every breath you take. These are the easiest, most natural, the most powerful yet the gentlest mantra which you can do while a living householders life. If you can do a proper Dhyan twice a day it would be great. But even if you cannot find the time you can mentally recite these with your breath at any time, eg while travelling etc. as even this helps. Convert every breath you take into Soham/ Hamsa/ Om and you will realise the Eternal.

But if you wish, you can do Dhyan on the following mantras. (I do not use them as I feel it unnecessarily complicates the process. I prefer the pure energy of the two Ajapa mantras Soham/Hamsa or OM.)

  • Om Brahmane namah
  • Om namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
  • Om namah Shivaya
  • Or you can choose the Gayatri mantra as your Dhyan-mantra.

If you want to use any other mantra, then its your wish. But be very careful, choose a Vedic mantra linked to the Saumya gentle form of your adored deity. Do not choose mantras of the Ugra terrifying forms. Best stick to the well-known mantras. If you focus with something incorrect, you will damage your Nadi/ Chakra system. Damage here not only affects the immediate present but also the future lives. (I had written somewhere about a woman who was doing Dhyan using some ‘brzeee’ mantra and causing harm to herself and the people around her.)

If you choose a longer mantra, then you should recite the complete mantra once with every inhalation and once with every exhalation. Example, if you choose the mantra ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ you have to recite it once completely as you inhale and recite it again completely as you exhale. Do this for the usual 108 breaths. Obviously one inhalation and one exhalation is one breath.

Leo ascendant Integration

The mantra can change sometimes spontaneously. Ultimately all Dhyan-mantra will merge into OM.

While you do your Dhyan-mantra with the 108 breathes, you are training your mind with it. Mantra means ‘manah tarayati iti ‘, ie the mantra is used to save, entrain, clean, enlighten etc, the mind. So naturally the mantra is of use as long as the mind is still whirring out of control. Once you achieve the unmani-avastha, ie the mind becomes still, the mantra will change its form and purpose.

Or if you are doing a longer mantra then as you reach the seed of the manifested it will convert to the Ajapa mantras or directly to the OM. Every mantra has a specific level of energy, once you have absorbed it all, it will change its form. This mantra changing thing is not really relevant if you are using one of these three, Soham/ Hamsa/ Om mantras. These three will take you to the highest Advaita as they are at the very deepest creation point of the manifested Universe. Once you have absorbed their immensity only the Self remains. This is the reason why I suggest you choose any of these three as your Dhyan-mantra. These are the fast-tracks, they work at the very core of your existence. 

Ultimately all the Mantras merge into OM. Then as you pierce the Bindu that OM is, you reach the undefinable indescribable Advaita. 

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Outer forms of pujas, pilgrimages, satsangs are all junior school. Dhyan is senior school. What is desired is the Eternal Advaita.

Suppose you have hurt your legs and cannot walk properly, and have to use a crutch. The crutch is essential but you do not love it nor do you wish to use it forever. You wish your legs get well so that you can walk without support. Similarly the practice is a crutch, you are going to need it as long as your mind misbehaves. But you cannot get attached to the crutch. You should study your mantra, check out how you can use it most effectively, maintain it, respect it, learn about its functions etc get the most use out of it. Use it. Be dispassionate about your practice. Your mantra is a tool, you have to use it. It will get you till a point in your journey, but after its work is done later you will discard it. 

Another way of looking at it is this. In your journey, you travel in a boat, then go in a bus, travel in a plane and then trek a bit depending on the route. You keep on changing your mode of transport, you do not remain attached to the boat or the bus you travel in. The boat-ride is not your objective. Yes, the boat helps you travel a particular stretch of your route but once that stretch is over you change your mode of transport. You are not attached to the route you travel nor the act of travelling. Neither the journey or the route or the vehicle is your final objective. Will you keep sitting in the car when you reach home? You get out of it and enter your house.

Your final destination is what inspires you. Rest of it, the route and the vehicle, just is, it is incidental. Your deepest desire is to get to Your Self, this is the source of your faith.

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And finally even if you are just learning astrology do you need to do Dhyan in the first place?

Yes, you have to. Astrology is actually Jyotish, the science of the internal illumination. It is a Veg-Ang, it is connected to the Ved, it is a part of Sanatan Dharma aka Hinduism. And it is a Vidya. Vidya is a science which studies conscious intelligence. You cannot learn a Vidya unless you are connected to the Advaita within your own self. I remember when I was a child, about 5yrs old, my Dad made me learn the Ganapati Atharvasheersha. Only then did I start on the Nakshatra, the Graha and the Rashis of Jyotish. So if you want to become an exceptional Jyotishi you must power yourself with these 108 breaths + Dhyan-mantra. 

So do your Soham or Hamsa or Om with every breath you take. Choose one of these and practice regularly. And if you have time for yourself, do your Dhyan at least once a day. It will heal you at the core of your being and eventually give you Eternal Happiness.

Venus and Jupiter in opposition

Soham, Sushumna Yog and the Sat-guru

‘Soham’, when formally ‘given’ to you by a Jivan-Mukt Sat-Guru is ‘Sushumna Yog.

A Jivan-mukt has understood the real meaning of the Maha-vakya, ‘tat tvam asi’. Maha-vakya महावाक्य means the great saying, assertion, declaration, rule. ‘Tat tvam asi’ loosely means ‘you are that’, but understanding this and experiencing this means you have achieved Sadyo-mukti. ‘Tat tvam asi’ is called the Brahmaakara Vritti, ie the state of the mind which takes you towards the Eternal Intelligence. Only such a Jivan mukt Guru can ‘give’ you Soham in all its grandness. eg your friend calls you by your full name and then your Mom calls you by your full name. When your Mom calls you with your full name, you get all alert and awake, her voice and your name trigger something within you.

Soham is the right of every living being. You keep doing it regularly in some small way with intention and it will slowly reset your energy. (Like that friend calling you by your name.) And then at some point of time, you will meet your Sat-Guru who will formally ‘give’ it to you. (This would be like your Mom calling you). When you hear this mantra from a Jivan-mukt, you hear it from the Nirvishesh Brahma itself. The mantra then goes deep inside and resets your energy in a fast forward mode. This now becomes Sushumna Yog, the route to Moksh. It opens access to the Sushumna nadi and the Brahma-nadi within it.

Soham has the power to take you into Kevala-Kumbhak spontaneously. Kumbhak is commonly considered to be the pause between the act of breathing in-Purak and breathing out-Rechak. But actually ‘Kumbhak’ means a pause in breathing. The breathing stops. Kevala Kumbhak means the stoppage of breath when the mind is silenced, completely motionless. In your Dhyan when you reach a point where the mind is utterly calm, the breathing stops. This stoppage can be in mid-inward breath, in mid-outward breath or between the Rechak/ Purak, anytime. This is called the state of Kevala Kumbhak.

When the breath stops, your pran are in your conscious control, the mind/Manas is still. Soham dissolves the individual ego/ Ahamkara completely. Grants you perfect memory/ Chitta of yourself. Perfect intelligence/ Buddhi dawns on you. You gain the knowledge/ Vijnyan of the Eternal. 

Initially this kumbhak will be for short time, later it can extend to hours as a Samadhi. Kevala Kumbhak is the highest form of Kumbhak. For those who attempt reaching this Kevala Kumbhak by consciously manipulating pran, the entire and very complicated process is given in the Yog-shikha Upanishad. But attempt this only under the guidance of a real Guru who knows what he is doing. Do not experiment here. Else you can burn up your Nadi-s, if this happens you have to discard your current body and take another body/life. (I have heard examples where aspirants burnt their nadi-s and then physically died a few months later.)

For attaining Moksh, both practice and philosophy is necessary. One trains the pran/ vital energy and the other trains the mind. Mind can be controlled by only if you control Pran and the easiest way to control Pran is to focus on your breath. The spiritual path can be very dangerous if you do not follow a Sat-Guru. You are manipulating the energies enveloping your soul, it is risky without the proper guide. All the books in Sanatan Dharma, Brahma-sutra, Bhagvat Gita, Vijnyan Bhairav Tantra, Devi Mahatmya, Ved, Vedang, Upanishad, etc emphasise the supreme importance of the Sat-guru in attaining Sadyo-mukti, Advaitya.

Soham, Sushumna Yog and the Sat-guru

I have seen my own Sat-Guru  in his physical shell as a Jivan-mukt and his full Advaita form after the shell dissolved.

A Jivan-mukt is innocence, untouched by physical/ emotional distress. Every word uttered by him is deepest philosophy. Every sentence when pondered upon, means only the Advaita. He cannot ever talk on any materialistic topic, he has transcended all this dross. He will not do moorti-pujas, pilgrimages, rituals, yadnas, homa or any other outer forms of worship connected to this illusory worlds, nor will he tell his disciples to do so. (My Guru would pointedly say no to all this as this. But he would tell us to increase our Dhyan.) He will give the same final mantra (Om/ Soham/ Hamsa) to all his disciples. To him, each one is the same Parabrahma. He does not discriminate among his disciples. He looks fresh and always welcoming. There are no bindings on how one has to be before coming before him. (Some Yogi-s are particular about women in their 5 days cycle. Or do not allow others to touch, have strict conditions on food etc). A Sat-guru has no requirements, no hang-ups, nothing. I have seen my Sat-guru eating out of silver plates and with the same innocence having simple food in the house of a poor disciple. Not finicky about habits, nothing. And this doesn’t mean that you can take him lightly. His aura is tremendous, you can not do anything but bow before him. All thoughts flee your mind in his presence. (I could never ask him for anything in words. Yet he always answered the questions I used to ask him in my mind). You feel the immenseness of him. Only those few people who have actually seen a Jivan-Mukt can understand what I have written here.

(Eg. Once he stopped his car in front of a Mumbai slum. My Mom was travelling with him. He asked her to go into the slum and call a woman, he told her the name. A elderly beggar woman came out. He asked her if she would like to go and live in his Math in Kolhapur district. She thought it over and said yes. He gave her money to buy some clothes and tickets. She lived in the Math and helped out in the kitchens. After some 25yrs, by his blessings, she left her body sitting in Dhyan. There are numerous such examples with my Guru.)

A Jivan-mukt’s body is linked to the Prarabdha-karma linked to the body at birth. So the body will play out its karmic activities. But the Soul is the pure Advaita. The pain/ pleasure of the body does not exist for the Soul. It has entered the Unmani-avastha, ‘beyond the mind’. The only purpose of the body is to enjoy/ endure karma. The soul has nothing to do with karma. You are not the body, you are the Soul, so its karmic pain/ pleasure has nothing to do with you. If you understand and experience this, you are Mukt.

Now whenever I see him he is in his full Advaita form, just the conscious Nirvishesh Brahma. It is very different and more intense.

So the point is, in this world, there are very rare Jivan-mukt available, maybe one in a hundred million. If you have the all-consuming desire to Know yourself, you will meet one, like the beggar woman whom my Sat-guru picked out of the slums. But until this happens, it is best that you do your Soham-Dhyan. Better trust your own higher self rather than putting your trust in some dubious ‘guru’. There are so many frauds in this world who are more than ready to take advantage of your fire and your energy. A Yogi who is higher up on the route can help you but only a Sat-Guru can really guide you home.

Do your Soham-Dhyan as per your conscience. This will prepare you for the moment when you will meet your Sat-guru. ‘Soham’ is not secret, everyone knows it. But when you hear it from your Sat-guru as a Naam-mantra, ie with the intention that ‘Soham’ is your name, it changes your energies completely. The Advaita itself tells you your name and directs you to focus on this now onwards. I was very young when my Sat-guru ‘gave’ it to me, but I remember every second of that experience.

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There was a question for references on Soham. For me the biggest reference is that my Sat-Guru gave it to me. But you can go through the following if you are so inclined,

  • Brahma vidya upanishad mentions that Soham is the mantra.
  • Yog shikha upanishad mentions that the Ajapa mantra under the guidance of a Sat-guru and for Sushumna yog is ‘Soham’. This is a part of mantra yog. The only route to liberation is the Sushumna yog and the ones who follow this route are the Jivan-mukt. Liberation is possible in one life itself if you slowly, little by little but regularly perform Soham.
  • Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj, my Sat-guru’s Guru-brother writes in his books that if one follows one’s Sat-guru’s direction and Soham-Dhyan, it takes two years to attain Moksh.
  • Isha upanishad mentions that Soham is the illumination, the highest blessing.
  • Brihad aranyak upanishad says that when the Advaita first took the form of the Purush, the first words said by this conscious intelligence were ‘Soham asmi’, ‘I am That’. The Purush is aware that he is the Non-dual, no one but him existed nor exists nor will exist. (For details on what the Purush is you will need to read the Sankhya philosophy.)
  • Hamsa upanishad, says that ‘Soham’ is the ‘kilak’, ie it is the pin, wedge, pillar, bolt, to which the entire ‘Hamsa soham’ mantra is fastened to. If you use this ‘Soham’ as a kilak, ie make it the sharp cutting edge of your spiritual practice you attain Moksh.
  • Vidnyan Bhairav Tantra mentions ‘Soham’ and ‘Hamsa’.
  • In the phalashruti of Vishnu sahastra nama, the highest One says that these 1000 names of Vishnu are equivalent to one Soham mantra.
  • There are several tantra books, philosophy commentaries and stotras which mention Soham.

If you think that ’Soham’ is very simple, try doing it for one hour with your breath as you do your daily commute sitting in the bus or train. See how many times you forgot to keep track of your breath. See how many times your attention was diverted from your breath and your mantra by what you saw/ heard in the train. Keeping track of breath is not so easy! But as you train your mind, direct it again and again to focus on your breathing pattern, you will notice changes in yourself. Your mind will become calmer, recovery from emotional outbursts will be faster, your health indicators will improve, you will look younger, fresher, your aura will become more intense etc. 

Sohams’s greatest power is that everyone can do it. All the time, in all conditions of the body/ mind. There is no binding of any sort on doing it. You can do it on your asan, in the bus, while you are having a bath, while walking in the park, at all times. It is a Manasik Jaap, ie mentally recite ‘So’ as you breathe in and mentally recite ‘Hum’ as you breathe out. Every breath you take should be converted to Soham, in every state. This means that you will be doing 21,600 Soham jaap every day! But then your breathing will also slow down. eg I have observed that when I am just sitting, reading or typing my breathing rate goes to 2-3 per minute and sometimes stops. Slowed breathing increases your body’s life-span and health. The life of a person is measured in breaths, the more you sit in Samadhi or in Dhyan, the slower you breathe, the longer your body will sustain. 

Soham is the gem among the mantras, it gives the highest benefit, Sushumna Yog, and ultimately Moksh, Sadyo-mukti in the most easiest, safest, gentlest and kindest ways and in this one life-time itself.

Karma action fruits of action, Bhagwat Gita style

There were several questions, I have sort of combined them in this post. 

Karma and Dhyan Meditation

“Could you please write something on how meditation helps on karmic levels.” There was this question, so writing it as a post.

The short answer. If you do regular Dhyan, you will realise that Karma is an illusion. You will actually experience this fact. Then you remain in eternal happiness, Param-anand.

Now the longer discussion.

There are three types of karma,

Sanchit karma – the entire accumulated load from several lives which you have to rebalance at some point of time, either in this life or the next ones.

Prarabdha karma – that part from the above load which you have decided to rebalance in this current life. This is chosen by you at the time of birth and lasts till the moment of physical death. This can be seen from your horoscope. As long as your soul animates this current 5-layered body, its linked Prarabdha karma will run its course. It is like an arrow released and will continue its motion till it exhausts its energy. In case you attain Realisation, ie Sadyo-Mukti and become a Jivan-mukt, the body will continue to be animated and operate as per the chosen prarabha karma till the time of physical death. (Do read the posts on on Sadyo-mukti/ Krama-mukti and on Jivan-mukti/ Videha mukti.)

Agaami karma – The  karma which you will possibly create in this current life. If this is of a smaller magnitude, you will be able to rebalance it in this current life itself. But if it is of a larger magnitude, it will be added to your Sanchit karma and you will rebalance it in your future lives.

When you achieve Sadyo-mukti, ie experience yourself as the Parabrahma, the Advaita, the Nirvishesh brahma, all the stored karma Sanchit karma is burnt at that very instant. And now you are a realised soul, so creation of new karma will be impossible too.

Karma is linked to the 5-layered body which is animated by your soul. No karma can touch the Soul/ Atma. The Soul is beyond all concepts of karma. But when a Soul resides in the body it mistakenly believes that it is linked to karma, now this is called an individual soul or Jiv-atma. Eg there is the Sun in the sky and clouds over it. The clouds are nothing to the Sun and neither are linked to him. But we think that the Sun is covered by the clouds. The Soul is similarly covered by the clouds of karma. When you do Dhyan, these clouds are shown to be immaterial and you experience the Soul.

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Meditation is a very misunderstood word. Modern people think that listening to relaxing music or not thinking of anything or sitting motionless in a dark room is mediation. All this is good to relax your mind, but it won’t do anything for your spiritual progress.

The correct word is Dhyan. There is no translation possible of this Sanskrit word ‘Dhyan’. Here you are required to elevate your limited awareness to the level of the Parabrahma by thinking of yourself as the Parabrahma itself. This continued thought is called Dhyan. You concentrate on this one thought exclusively. No other thoughts are allowed to enter your mind except this. You give all your attention to this thought, you appreciate its non-duality, its existence within yourself.

Dhyan means ‘motionlessness’. This ‘absence of movement’ has very deep connotations. The continuous motion of the three-Gun, the Satva-Raja-Tama is stilled. Prakruti stops her performance, ie the illusion of manifested creation stops. You observe oneself, you become a witness. And you identify with the catalyst who remains still rather than the puppet who is in motion.

You are required to sit (post here). Not lie down, as you will go to sleep. Neither can you stand or do any actions while doing Dhyan, because your mind will also think on how to do these actions or how to keep standing without falling. Dhyan needs continuity of the physical state so that your mind can concentrate only on the non-dual subtlest intelligence within you. So you have to sit. If the body is at rest the mind also rests. It becomes easier to focus.

But there really are no rules on how to sit or where to sit or how to sit at what time etc. But to begin with, you have to fix your place (asan) and also a time, eg daily at 7am or whatever is possible on a regular basis. This will help your mind get used to the idea of Dhyan. Later, with practice, as the mind gets trained, there are no rules as this becomes a constant thought. Even later this goes deep that every instant is a Dhyan. This will continue non-stop till physical death. If you are able to strongly hold on to this thought at the instant of death you will attain the highest Sadyo-mukti of the Videha kind when you exit the body.

The life you are living is actually a preparation for the instant of physical death. If you concentrate on something for a life time, you will easily be able to concentrate on it at the moment of your exit thus achieve it. The moment of exit is the most powerful moment of your life. Eg if you concentrate on the idea that you are a devotee of Vishnu, you will go to Vaikunth. If you concentrate that you are a devotee of Shiv, you will go to Kailas. These states are called the lower Krama-mukti. The moment of physical exit is the critical point. If at this moment you are fixed in the idea that you are the Parabrahma, you will attain the highest possible Sadyo-mukti of the Videha kind. You will be able to do this only if you have trained your mind for a life-time, so we are all required to do Dhyan.

Karma and Dhyan Meditation

There are just the three possible mantras which are possible for Dhyan, Om, Soham and Hamsa.

Om is generally used by people who have renounced all forms of material bindings and are totally focussed on the Eternal. There is are specific ways of using Om, this will be taught to you by your own Guru. I know someone very senior who does Om Dhyan. Aged, now in his 70’s, his wife too in her 70’s. He was initiated when he was in his 20-s, after which his family got him married. His wife once told me that he used to beg for her permission to become a formal ascetic, but she refused. If you practice Om-dhyan in all its intensity, it is equivalent to formal asceticism. Even if you feel attracted to material life from time to time, it will be superficial because Om will always strongly pull you inward. Om is is Sanyas. Sanyas सम्यक् न्यास means that you are putting the Conscious energy perfectly within yourself. Once you start it in real earnest, you cannot get interested in or remain much in the material illusory world, the Eternal will pull you very strongly.

Then Hamsa and Soham are the two Ajapa mantras. Every living being unconsciously recites these mantras with every breath. If you adopt them as your Mantra, now onwards, you will use them consciously. Hamsa is the Ajapa mantra when you first exhale and mentally recite ‘hmm’ and then inhale and mentally recite ’saaa’. Together it makes ‘hamsa’. The details of this are given in detail in the Hamsa upanishad. But this upanishad is so utterly high level that even if you understand what it means, you won’t be able to perform the process. Possibly it involves Hatha yog too as complicated movements of pran and bandha etc are described in it. Hamsa vidya is when this mantra gains power with regular practice. I have not been taught it so do not know more. But it is a very powerful means of attaining the Self.

Soham is the second Ajapa mantra. My Sat-Guru taught all his disciples the ‘Soham’ mantra. Here you breathe in with the internal sound ‘sooo’ and exhale with the internal sound of ‘hmmm’. Together it makes ‘soham’. It is called the Ajapa-Gayatri by some people. It enlightens you to your real nature. The only thing you have to do is to internally recite the ‘soo’ and ‘hmm’ with your every breath. All the time, every breath. This is all you need to do. Soon it will become so intense that even if you deep sleep or dream, you will consciously recite it continuously. Never force your breathing, always breathe normally gently as you do. No sound should be created by your breathing. Some people breathe heavily and a sound is created by the air moving in your nose. Avoid this, it cause damage to your Nadi-s. The breathing should be noiseless, only then you will ‘hear’ the associated ‘soo’ and ‘hmm’ sounds. If you can sit down in a formal Dhyan even 1-2 times a day then it becomes even more intense.

Everyone can do Soham-jaap. Some people have this misconception that higher level mantras can be given only to the higher aspirants. This is incorrect. A genuine Sat-Guru will give you the full and final Mantra in the first step itself. You and me both are the Advaita, the Eternal. We are all capable of focussing on our real name. Maybe someone has lesser power of concentration to begin with, but the Mantra is so powerful that it does its own work.

Now the thing is with the householder’s life, Gruhast-ashram, we are required to perform all activities related to society, family, spouse/children etc. So doing Dhyan thrice a day 1hr each session may not be possible. So the best option is to do Soham jaap whenever you can, 1-2 mins whenever you are free, during the day/night, when you are travelling etc. This will ensure that your mind is gradually trained to think of itself. ‘Soham’ is Sushuma Yog, you will pull you towards yourself with its power. And if you get time, if you can sit in formal Dhyan, your progress towards yourself will be faster.

Karma and Dhyan Meditation

Now when you sit for Dhyan, each breath is considered to be one life time. Each breath is used to burn the karma of a life-time. It is a very intense exercise. Can you imagine the focus needed to consciously convert the energies of say five hundred million breaths, which is about a 65yrs life span, into one breath? But this does happen when you are very highly focussed on your mantra, not otherwise. If you practice daily, it will eventually happen with you too.

Even if you cannot reach this intensity in this lifetime, whatever you did will be carried over into your next life. So it is an asset you are generating. Dhyan makes the Mind still. And then the benefits of a relatively calm mind are obvious. You will look younger, more healthier, live longer, more mentally stable, more rational, less perturbed by events around you. Even if a karmic event occurs in your life, you are more easily able to navigate through it. And the chances of creating deep-rooted Agaami karma are also reduced as you do not react to situations from your deepest core. You are more in tune with your conscience. You go through events without disturbing your innermost self. The intensity of your desires will reduce with time. Frustrations disappointments reduce in intensity as your mind fluctuates less.

Then when you continually contemplate on your Reality, you force your mind to think of Yourself repeatedly. You realise, dimly at first and then very strongly that the creation which surrounds you is an illusion. As you remove the bindings laid on you, your experiences in Dhyan become more profound. You enter even deeper into yourself, you realise that Karma itself is an illusion. You are the Soul, this intention becomes stronger and stronger. You finally realise that there is no difference in the states of happiness/sadness. Every instant is filled with the awareness of non-duality.

So the short answer is again that if you do regular Dhyan, you will realise that Karma is an illusion, you experience this reality. You will always be in eternal happiness, Param-anand.

This post is basically from the Brahma-sutra, from what I was taught by my Sat-Guru and what I personally practice.

 

Your conscience and your soul

This really old Hindi song to me is beautifully meaningful. A rough translation, “I walked together with Life. I blew away every worry into smoke and went on. Grieving about past tragedies was meaningless. I celebrated every tragedy and walked on. What was given to me, I accepted it as destined. What was lost, I forgot it all and went on. There is one point where there is no difference between happiness and sorrow. I consciously brought my heart to this final destination and went on.”

Length and Rate of your breathing

We are breath, or more more correctly we are linked to this manifested creation primarily by the movement of air through our nostrils. To go beyond the limits imposed by the manifested, the first step is control of the breath. If you control your breath, you naturally control the pran moving within you. If you can control your pran, you automatically control your mind. Your mind is like a ball in your hand, it jumps up and down with the movement of pran. If you still the movement of pran, you also still your mind. The pran’s movement stills when you still your breathing, ie achieve Keval Kumbhak state, where there is no breathing in nor breathing out. If your Mind goes still, you achieve the ‘unmani-state’, beyond-Mind. After you reach this Unmani state, you hear the continuous ‘Nada’, the sound of the unmanifested. If you can dissolve your limited consciousness in the sound of the Nada, you achieve the Eternal.

Length and Rate of your breath

Our regular breathing is very turbulent. It depends on the physical movement of the body but it also depends significantly on your emotions and your thoughts. Check your breathing pattern when you are happy, sad, angry, upset, relaxed, focussed, etc and observe for yourself how it varies.

All texts on breathing and Dhyan will talk about the length of the breath and the rate of breathing.

  • This is how you determine the length of your breathing in comparison to your own finger-widths, a measure called angula. Switch off the fan in your room first, it should not be windy inside. Place some cotton fibres or a very thin thread on the back of your hand and keep it at some distance from your nose. Be at rest, relax and breathe normally. As you exhale on the cotton fibres they will move with the force of the exhaled air. Try to find out till what distance from your nose, the cotton fibres visibly move with your exhaled breath. Measure this distance from your nostrils to the fibres with a piece of thread. Now count how many finger-widths long is your breath when you are at rest.
  • Now to measure your breathing rate. Sit in a relaxed position. Set a timer for 5 mins. Count your breathing, ie one inhale and one exhale is one breath. eg If you count 52 breaths in 5 mins, then it is average at about 10 breaths per minute. eg If it is 68 breaths in 5 mins it is approximately 14 breaths per minute. As per science, the average human breathing rate at rest is 12 per minute.

Your life span is measured in breaths, not years. If you breathe slowly, you will live longer, look younger and be more healthy. But you should not force yourself to stop/slow breathe, if you do so, you will damage your body and your nadi-s. This should happen spontaneously and it will happen gradually as you do your spiritual practice.

(This photograph of my Sat-guru was taken in 1990, he was physically 85yrs old then.)

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If your breathing is fast, forced, laboured, intense etc the air will be displaced for a longer distance from your nose. ie the length of the breath will increase. As per the texts, this is how the activities affect your breath, eg eating increases the length to 18 angula, walking increases it to 20 angula, run­ning to 24 angula, sexual activity to 60 angula etc. If the length of the exhaled breath is longer, it reduces your life-span. The reason is that with every exhaled breath, you are also exhaling pran from your system. Generally you lose more pran than you pull in from the universe as your exhaled breath is always longer than your inhaled breath. And if the exhaled breath is made longer by engaging in strenuous activities or mental turbulence, even more pran goes out. (So over-indulgence in sexual activity is not advisable for spiritual aspirants, 60 angula long-breath!)

When you breathe slowly, without any jerks, the exhaled air moves out with less force, ie it’s length in angula becomes shorter. As the breathing becomes slow, it also becomes less turbulent, the flow of the pran in the nadi-s becomes smoother, more subtle, thinner? It actually becomes a fine needle of pure gold/ silver shimmer. In Dhyan, you are supposed to actively open your central Sushumna and close the Ida and Pingala. When such smooth subtle flow of pran moves through the Sushumna it effectively ‘cleans’ it out. Once the Sushumna is ‘clean’, all karmic impurities/ blockages are removed, it becomes very easy for the kundalini to rise up through it in one continuous smooth flow. It is always better for the spiritual aspirant if the Kundalini moves only after the Sushumna is clean from the Mooladhar to the Brahmarandhra.

So the point is that if you reduce the breathing rate and reduce the length of breath which actually happens simultaneously, you will increase the length and quality of your life and also gain control over your pran, Mind and also on the people around you and the environment you live in. Here is what the texts say,

  • If it is 10 angula, you gain peace of mind which lasts for a long time.
  • If it is 9 angula, you can spontaneously write, prose, music etc which have deep impacts on others.
  • If it is 8 angula, you will be able to speak spontaneously without hesitation. Your words will cause deep impact on those who hear you.
  • If it is 7angula, your vision will change, seeing into the past, present, future, parallel is possible now.
  • If it is 6 angula, you can move your body through air.
  • If it has gone to 5 angula, now onwards, your progress in your spiritual practice becomes very fast.
  • If it goes to 4 angula, you will attain the eight major siddhis (anima, mahima, garima, laghima, prakamya, ishitva, vashitva, kamavashayitva) and the several minor siddhis.
  • If it goes down to 3 angula, you gain the nava nidhi vidya the 9 types of consciousnesses. These are said to be under the control of Yaksharaj Kuber.
  • If it goes upto 2 angu­la, then the body is not longer a binding, you can change the shape of your 5-layered body.
  • If it reduces to 1 angula, you can become invisible and exist in just the subtle or causal body. Time, space and other dimensions lose their dominion on you.
  • Finally when the breathing stops, ie there is no exhalation or inhalation, Keval Kumbhak is attained, now the further process of Self realization starts in real earnest.

So as you do your spiritual practice, with time, your breathing will slow down and stop intermittently and then fully. It is nothing to be scared of. You don’t need air to remain alive in this created world. You need only pran, and it can be pulled in not just through the nostrils but also via the skin and majorly through the top of the head. This ability to consciously pull in pran increases, as you do your spiritual practice. So as an aspirant, your only job is to breathe with Soham, the rest of it will happen spontaneously and naturally.

 

Length and Rate of your breath

Sounds heard during meditation

There was a question on this, so a quick post. As you do your regular spiritual practice using the mantras Soham or Hamsa or Om, you will see signs of your progress. These are not achievements in any sense of the word, just signs that you are following your route. As per the Hamsa upanishad this is the sequence of the sounds,

  1. Chinni – a single sound heard occasionally, like a single chirrup of a cricket
  2. Chinni- chinni – a sound like crickets, but tinkling-like and pleasant.
  3. Bells ‘Ghanta’ ringing – a deep tolling bell
  4. Conch ‘Shankh’ being blown
  5. A musical instrument’s string being plucked ‘Tantri’
  6. Cymbals ‘taal’ 
  7. Flute ‘Venu’
  8. Drums ‘Mridanga’
  9. War drum ‘Bheri’ 
  10. Thundering ‘Megh-naad’ 

When you do your practice and do it for sometime, you first hear the single ‘chini’ type of sound occasionally. Then when you start hearing the second sound and till the last thundering sound, these sounds are on all the time, a muted continuous background sound. You can hear them all the time if you are in a silent room. In fact you can feel their vibrations in your body if you are sitting quietly in a silent room. Sometimes one sound will predominate and at other times some other sound. Some of the sounds are on high pitch and some are very low bass notes. Each is a constant sound, eg you will not hear varying pitches in the stringed instrument, it will be like someone picked just one string and its sound is heard constantly. It not like someone is playing your chakras like a guitar! You have to sit in a silent room as they cannot be heard properly in a noisy environment. If you use ear plugs, you might miss out the lowest pitched ones. Also do not plug your fingers in your ears, as you will then ‘hear’ the muscles in your fingers snapping, this will interfere with your ‘listening’ to your inner sounds. A silent room is best. 

You will also hear other sounds as your Ajnya chakra gets more charged up. Eg sounds of bumble bees, birds twittering, frogs croaking, wind rushing, the constant flow of a river, white noise etc. You will also hear single sharp cracks and thudding sounds as if a wood has snapped or a huge weight has fallen next to you. You will hear so many sounds in your Dhyan. But these are one-off sounds, you don’t hear them always on.

And don’t worry if you don’t hear them all or all in sequence or if you do not remember hearing them. In deep Dhyan, the Mind, both conscious and unconscious, is switched off. So whatever visions appear before you or sounds you hear, you might not be able to clearly remember them after you get up.

Sounds heard during mediation

Then while you are ‘hearing’ all this you will also have these effects on your body. These really happen so do not feel scared when they start. Pran moves along your body in waves, so the hair on your skin all stand up for minutes (very common). You feel coolness on your skin. You feel wind rushing on your skin. Your throat constricts and your sound box moves upwards. The body muscles contract and tremble spasmodically. You might feel pain and then again it gets soothed. There may be cycles of these sensations. You might feel pressure in your third eye area, or on the top of your head at specific points, you might feel coldness trickling down your head. You might feel your third eye ‘pop’, ie something like ‘air’ popped out from there. Your backbone might stiffen, your neck posture can rearrange itself. Eyes will get sealed shut, you will not be able to open them even if you want to. 

But in Dhyan, you are not supposed to get involved in observing these things. Your only job is to sit comfortably, breathe slowly, focus on the third eye and recite your mantra in your mind.

Then these things initially happen only when you are actively sitting on your Asan and focussing intently. The Mind has to be still. These generally won’t happen when you are in office and doing your official stuff. (But if you take a 5min break and do a quick mini-Dhyan in office you can experience all this there too.) And as this happens when you are doing your Dhyan you might not really be aware of these separate processes. I really wasn’t aware of much of these things until I read the Hansa Upanishad. As I read the descriptions I realised that this stuff had happened but I was so immersed that it did not register nor did I remember it when I got up.

The Upanishad says these following are the effects on the body as you progress, body feels pins and needles, hair stand up. Then there is pain as the pran pierces through the Sushumna nadi. (Or you might feel an oily dense liquid thing which would be the Kundalini moving) You might feel that things are snapping and breaking inside you. Shivering and trembling of muscles occurs. Saliva collects in your mouth. Then nectar collects in your throat, ie the secretions of the pineal gland are now available for your conscious use. You will be made aware of the secret knowledge ie things which you had read earlier will now give different secret meanings, you will spontaneously ‘know’ so many things about yourself and others around you. Then you will know the secret of mantras also you will hear mantras being spoken in your ears as you do your Dhyan, or even when you are sitting silently anywhere. The 9th step is that you gain control over your body, ie you can dissolve it to pure energy and reform it again wherever you want. You will also gain complete control over your Ajnya chakra, you will be able to ‘see’ energies which cannot be described. The last step is the realisation of the Parabrahma at the Brahma-randhra ie at the very top of your head, at the very ‘center’ of the Sahasrara chakra complex. 

Your 5-layered body is the vehicle with which your Soul will cross the geometry created by Prakruti and your Soul will finally realise itself. These signs are very clearly mentioned in several texts and they do happen. For some aspirants they may merge into one single event and they may not even realise that these have happened. These are not achievements, they are merely signposts that you are on the right route and progressing. However interesting these on-the-way things may seem to be. You as a spiritual aspirant should never relax your focus on the ultimate prize, Moksh

 

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