A Simple, Yet Powerful, Meditation Technique
"Concentration it is that awakens our powers and channels them, dissolving obstacles in our path, literally attracting opportunities, insights, and inspirations. In many ways, subtle as well as obvious, concentration is the single most important key to success." Part II, The Art & Science of Raja Yoga
Make yourself comfortable, sitting upright, with a straight spine. With your eyes closed, look at the point midway between the eyebrows on your forehead.
Inhale slowly, counting to eight. Hold the breath for the same eight counts while concentrating your attention at the point between the eyebrows. Now exhale slowly to the same count of eight. Repeat three to six times.
After inhaling and exhaling completely, as the next breath comes in, mentally say Hong (rhymes with song). Then, as you exhale, mentally say Sau (rhymes with saw). Hong Sau means 'I am He' or 'I am Spirit'. Make no attempt to control your breathing, just let its flow be completely natural. Try to feel that your breath itself is silently making the sounds of Hong and Sau. Initially try to feel the breath at the point where it enters the nostrils.
Be as attentive as possible. If you have difficulty feeling the breath, you can concentrate, for a while, on the breathing process itself, feeling your diaphragm and chest expanding and contracting.
Gradually as you become more calm, try to feel the breath higher and higher in the nose. Be sure that your gaze is kept steady at the point between the eyebrows throughout your practice. Don't allow your eyes to follow the movement of the breath. If you find that your mind has wandered, simply bring it back to an awareness of the breath and the mantra.
By concentration on the breath, the breath actually diminishes; its gradual refinement leads naturally to an interiorized meditative state.
Practice this technique as long as you feel to. As a boy, Paramhansa Yogananda used to practice it for hours at a time, withdrawing ever more deeply into the spine until he found himself without breath altogether. He had ascended into soul- consciousness…and a higher reality took over…
Here's an Excellent Video to Guide You Through the Meditation Practice
Tips to Help Your Meditation Practice
Controlling Your Breath
At no time during the practice of this technique should you make any effort to control the breath. Let it flow naturally. Gradually, you may notice that the pauses between the inhalation and exhalation are becoming longer. Enjoy these pauses, for they are a glimpse of the deep peace state of advanced meditation. As you grow very calm you may notice that the breath is becoming so shallow (or the pauses so prolonged) that it hardly seems necessary to breathe at all.
How Long to Practice
Do not set unrealistic goals for yourself. It is better to meditate 5-15 minutes and be very consistent with your practice, and then increase your time as you can. One longer meditation each week can be very helpful. It also helps to meditate with other people, especially with those who have been meditating longer than you. You'll find that group meditations will often help you to meditate longer than you normally would on your own.
The amount of time you practice is entirely up to you but end your practice of the technique by taking a deep breath, and exhaling three times. Then, keeping your mind focused and your energy completely internalized and try to feel peace, love and joy within your self. Sit for at least five minutes enjoying the deeply relaxed state you are in.
Set aside the same time or times each day for your meditation. Recommended are dawn (just after awakening), twilight, high noon, and midnight. Another time is in the evening, just before bedtime. It's also easier to meditate on an empty stomach (2-3 hours after meals).
Where to Meditate
If possible, set aside an area that is used only to meditate. This will create a meditative mood. A small room or closet is ideal as long as it can be well ventilated. Ideally the air is a little on the cool side and you can use a blanket or shawl to keep comfortable. Your area can be kept very simple—all you really need is a chair or small cushion to sit on. It's best to meditate in a quiet area, but earplugs or headphones can be used if needed.
Posture for Meditation
There are many ways of sitting that are equally good. You can sit either in a straight-backed chair or on the floor in any of several poses. Two things, however, are essential: Your spine must be straight, and you must be able to relax completely.
Focus your attention at the point between the eyebrows. This area, called "the spiritual eye," is a center of great spiritual energy. Your eyes should be closed and held steady, and looking slightly upwards, as if looking at a point about an arm's length away and level with the top of your head.
Preliminary Exercises for Meditation
If you have time, exercise a little before you meditate. Yoga postures are an excellent way to relax the body and mind before meditation. Paramhansa Yogananda's Energization Exercises are also highly recommended.
Begin your meditation by saying a prayer either out loud or inwardly to God and the Masters, asking them to guide and help you. Do some chanting if you can, using a cassette tape of chants can be helpful. Then practice the breathing exercises to relax: Inhale, tense the whole body, then throw the breath out and relax (do this 2 or 3 times). Then do some measured breathing: inhale, hold, and exhale, then begin again. Do this 6-12 times. Afterwards, relax and breathe normally, and become aware of your breath. You should feel more relaxed now. Remember to hold the body still. You can mentally check it from time to time to see that no part becomes tense again. Physical tension is a great deterrent to calm and deep meditations. Be very silent and relaxed, yet aware.
Prayer Before Meditation by Paramhansa Yogananda
Teach me, O Spirit, by meditation, to stop the storm of breath, mental restlessness and sensory disturbances raging in the lake of my mind. Let the magic wand of my intuition stop the gale of passions and unnecessary desires, and in the rippleless lake of my mind let me behold the undistorted reflection of the moon of my soul, glistening with the light of Thy presence.
-Whispers from Eternity by Swami Yogananda, 1929/1949 Editions
Meditate with Joy
Meditate with joy, with devotion. Don't wait for God's joy to make you joyful, be joyful first yourself! Meditation will help you to remember, on ever deepening levels, of who and what you truly are. You are a child of God, and one with the Infinite Light.