Why Soham Yoga Meditation?
Meditation is the process of centering our awareness in the principle of pure consciousness which is our essential being. In this way we will never lose sight of our real identity.
Normally we lose awareness of our true Self through consciousness of external objects. Since we are habituated–if not actually addicted–to objective consciousness, we can use that very condition to our advantage.
Rather than disperse our consciousness through objects that draw us outward, away from the source of our being, we can take an object that will have the opposite effect, present it to the mind, and reverse our consciousness.
Such an object must have three qualities:
- it must be something whose nature it is to turn our awareness inward and draw it into the most subtle depths of our being,
- it must be something that can continue to be perceived even in those most subtle areas of our awareness,
- it must already be present in our inmost being awaiting our discovery of it. Therefore it must be an object that can both impel and draw us, accompanying our questing consciousness inward, not being transcended when the mind and senses are gone beyond, but revealing itself as the Self.
That object is the mantra Soham. By sitting with closed eyes and letting the mind become easefully absorbed in experiencing the inner mental repetitions of Soham we thereby directly enter into the state of consciousness that is Soham, the state of consciousness that is both Brahman the Absolute and our Self.
How Do I Learn to Meditate? The book Soham Yoga: The Yoga of the Self, by Abbot George Burke is presented here in chapters, where the reader can learn the theory and practice of this ancient and effective meditation method. We invite you to explore, study and practice what you will find here.
The more I read this book, study it and practice Soham meditation and japa, the more thrilled I am to find this book. It is a complete spiritual path of Yoga… This Soham meditation has been the most simple, effective kind of meditation I have practiced. Everything one needs to learn and practice Soham meditation is in this book. It is a treasure.
–Arnold Van Wie
Excerpts from Soham Yoga: The Yoga of the Self
Soham (which is pronounced like “Sohum”) means: I Am That. It is the natural vibration of the Self, which occurs spontaneously with each incoming and outgoing breath. Through becoming aware of it on the conscious level by mentally repeating it in time with the breath (So when inhaling and Ham when exhaling), a yogi experiences the identity between his individual Self and the Supreme Self.
There are mantras that change things and others that reveal the eternal nature of things. Soham does both. According to the Nath Yogis (see Philosophy of Gorakhnathby Askhaya Kumar Banerjea), Soham has existed within the depths of God from eternity; and the same is true of every sentient being. Soham, then, will reveal our inner being. By meditating on Soham we discover our Self–within which Soham has existed forever.
The simple intonation of Soham in time with the breath (see Chapter Two) will do everything in the unfolding of the yogi’s spiritual consciousness. For sound and breath are the totality of Soham sadhana. (See Appendix One: Breath and Sound in Meditation.).
The practice is very simple, and the results very profound. Truly wondrous is the fact that Soham Yoga can go on all the time, not just during meditation, if we apply ourselves to it. The whole life can become a continuous stream of liberating sadhana. “By the mantra ‘Soham’ separate the jivatma from the Paramatma and locate the jivatma in the heart” (Devi Bhagavatam 11.8.15).
When we repeat Soham in time with the breath we are invoking our eternal being. This is why we need only listen to our inner mental intonations of Soham in time with the breath which itself is Soham.
Why are there so many yoga methods? It is because of differing diagnoses of the root problem of human beings. Buddha said that it was important to ask the right questions to get the right answers. In the same way we must know the real problem of humanity if we are to formulate the solution.
If we accept secondary problems as the primary ones, our answers will be secondary ones and unable to clear up the fundamental problem whose solution will bring about the solution of all other troubles.
For example, our problem is not restlessness of the mind, the pull of negativity, unawakened kundalini or not knowing one of the symbolic forms of God mistakenly called gods, or an avatar or master. There are many symptoms, but we have only one actual problem: we do not know and experience our individual being (jivatma) within the cosmic being (Paramatman).
The only true yoga is that which immediately puts us in contact with the Self, even if only to a minimal degree at first.All kinds of yoga gimmicks have been invented, but the only true yoga is that which immediately puts us in contact with the Self, even if only to a minimal degree at first. For that practice will keep on increasing our awareness until it is perfect. And that is the simple intonation of Soham in time with the breath.
Because of the release of Self-awareness and the harmony produced by this simple practice, profound processes (kriyas) do take place in the physical and subtle bodies, but even they are only themselves symptoms of the process of Self-awakening.
The secret of success is regularity in meditation. “A diamond is a piece of coal that never gave up.” Paramhansa Yogananda formulated a more spiritual version: “A saint is a sinner who never gave up.” If you meditate regularly, every day, great will be the result. Water, though the softest substance known, can wear through the hardest stone by means of a steady dripping.
In the old story of the tortoise and the hare, the tortoise won the race because he kept at it steadily, whereas the hare ran in spurts. He ran much faster then the tortoise, but the irregularity of his running made him lose the race. Meditation keeps moving onward in its effect when regularly practiced, producing steady growth through steady practice. The more we walk the farther we travel; the more we meditate the nearer and quicker we draw to the goal.
“Practice alone will show you where the truth lies,” said Ramana Maharshi. Yoga, the spiritual state, is produced by yoga the practice. Those who persevere in their yoga practice find unfailing and abundant happiness, peace, and fulfillment. Certainly the goal is not reached without much practice through the years, but every step of the way is blessed and brings rejoicing to the yogi’s heart.
Then at last no more steps are needed, and he enters the ocean of Satchidananda. “A tiny bubble of laughter, I am become the Sea of Mirth Itself,” wrote Yogananda.
So it really is all up to you. The sane and sober voice of the sages and scriptures of India assures us that through the simple japa and meditation of Soham all possible spiritual attainments will be realized.