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5 Useful Questions About Meditation

To someone who asked if Soham means “I am he” or “I am that.”

“So” is not a personal pronoun. It only means the impersonal “That.” It is a simple matter of linguistics. “I am He” is an absurd mistranslation because neither Brahman nor the Atman can ever be “He.” Only “That”–Tat as in Tat Twam Asi: You are That.

According to the Isha and Brihadaranyaka Upanishads, both Brahman and the Atman “say” Soham Asmi–I am Soham. Of course they mean the Soham Bhava which is the essential consciousness of Brahman, and therefore of the Atman.

You find Soham effective because it is your own Self. And the Self of your Self: Brahman.

To someone who wrote about whether Soham or Hamsa (Hansa) should be joined to the breath as a yoga practice.

Although there is not a single authoritative text that speaks of Hamsa as a meditation mantra, and there are many about Soham, there is a rationale behind using Hamsa. Unfortunately, the rationale is only left-brain logic, and not authentic yogic tradition. Stay with Soham.

To someone who asked if Soham contains Om.

Yes; Soham includes Om. But Om does not include Soham. (Sivananda said that Om is extracted from the Soham mantra.)

For purification and elevation of external factors in our life, Om is the ideal mantra. For inner realization, Soham is the ideal mantra.

To someone who asked about “shaktipat” gurus and their practices.

The whole shaktipat approach is very chancey and always ends in disaster. We are not energy: we are consciousness. It is energy that deludes us. That is why Patanjali never mentions kundalini or even chakras. The Nath Yogis know more about the chakras than regular yogis, but they just know about them, they do not bother with them. When the chakras manifest in their sadhana they understand what is going on, ignore it and continue with Soham joined to their breath.

To someone who asked which chakra was the best to focus on in meditation.

Meditation on a specific chakra can confine and limit the yogis awareness. What happens spontaneously alone is correct and worthy of attention. I wrote in Soham Yoga: “Sometimes during meditation you may spontaneously become more aware of some point or area of the body, and that is all right, but keep the focus of your attention on the breath and your intonations of Soham, letting whatever happens, happen, letting the subtle energy (shakti) of Soham move where it will and energize and awaken whatever needs energizing and awakening at that moment. Since everything is formed of prana, the essence of breath, intoning Soham in time with the breath effects every part and aspect of our being, physical, astral, and causal.

There is an exception to this. On occasion, such as at the very beginning of meditation or when during the rest of the day you find your attention drifting from the breath and Soham, it can be helpful to make yourself very gently (lest you give yourself a headache from tension) aware of your entire brain (Sahasrara) area, feeling that the breath and Soham intonations are taking place there.

A short time of this awareness–just the duration of a few breaths–is sufficient, because subsequent practice of Soham sadhana will result in spontaneous Sahasrara awareness whenever that is best.

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