In this guide, we will be looking at the wonderful technique of Soham (So Hum) meditation and Hamsa, one of my favourites.
What I love about So Hum meditation is that it is so relaxing. I find that within about ten minutes of doing Soham I feel a lot more relaxed. It’s also very beneficial for concentration.
You might wonder why it’s called “Soham meditation”. Well, Soham is one of the most important mantras used in Kriya Yoga and tantra. It is a contemplation mantra with a special meaning in Vedic philosophy.
Let me show you how to do it.
How To Do Soham Meditation (So Hum)
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- I like to practice Soham for around 20 minutes at a time. You can always go longer if you like. 20 minutes is the minimum I advise. If you’d like to make it a habit, try practising at the same time each day.
- Sit with good posture. You want your spine to be in proper alignment when you meditate. Make sure that your back, head and next are all aligned.
- Take a moment to check in with your breath. You should be doing diaphragmatic breathing and your mind and body should be relaxed and alert.
- Many experts recommend using the Jnana mudra with this technique, with the index finger curled up under the thumb.
- Soham uses both a mantra and a visualisation. We start with the visualization.
- Imagine a circle of light around your body. This circle of light is like an energy shield that separates you from your external environment and from your thoughts. Visualise yourself sitting in the middle of this sphere of light. Feel it protecting you and removing obstacles. This is a great technique for removing negative energy.
- It’s normal to accumulate some physical tension during your busy days. You will want to remove this tension before you start chanting the Soham mantra. To do this, imagine your entire body relaxing. Notice your breath becoming smoother. You can feel your breath expanding out from your diaphragm and spreading around your body, relaxing you.
- Staying relaxed, slowly move your conscious awareness around the following energy centres: center of your eyebrow; centre of your throat; right shoulder; right eyebrow; right side wrist; your fingertips on your right hand one by one starting with the thumb; right wrist; elbow on right side; right shoulder; centre of throat; left shoulder; left eyebrow; the fingertips on your left hand beginning with your thumb; left wrist; left eyebrow; left shoulder; throat center; centre of your heart; centre of your naval; centre of pelvis; pelvic floor; centre of your pelvis; centre of your naval; centre of your head; centre of your throat; centre of your eyebrow.
- Next, rest your conscious awareness on the centre of your eyebrows. Be aware of your breath filling your body. You can feel a gentle wave of breath spreading over your body. Listen to the breath. Hear the “So Hum” mantra. The “So” comes on the inhalation. The “Hum” comes on the exhalation.
- Feel that gentle “So Hum” coming and going with your breath. Meditate on this sound and on the feeling of your breath as it flows throughout your body and spreads out into the space around you.
- Open your eyes and express gratitude. It is a wonderful meditation, and there are many benefits of the Soham meditation technique.
What is the meaning of Soham Meditation?
I was reading Olivelle Patrick’s book The Samnyasa Upanisads, in which he states that the meaning of the So Hum mantra is “I am he / she / that”. And in my discussions with fellow meditation teachers, we agree that the “That” part represents the universe.
Therefore, the mantra means “I am the same as the universe”.
According to Harvey P Alper [Understanding Mantrasby Motilal Banarsidass] another meaning of the So Hum mantra is “I am the swan”. The swan represents Atman (true self). You can also find the phrase in the Principal Upanishads, including the Isha Upanishad.
When we do Soham meditation we are connecting ourselves to the universe. The name of the meditation refers to the sound we make when we do it. “So” is the inhalation sound and “Hum” is the exhalation sound.
4 Soham Meditation Benefits
There are lots of benefits of So Hum meditation technique.
1: It is incredibly relaxing
So Hum meditation is one of the most relaxing techniques.
You can actually feel your mind and body slowing down and becoming more tranquil as you practice. And my students say they find it wonderfully calming.
2: It heightens the mind-body connection
Throughout the day your mind and body gradually get separated. This is the effect of living in the modern world. Our minds get so full up with thoughts and mental distractions that our consciousness drifts away from the body. We lose the mind-body connection.
One of the best benefits of So Hum meditation is that it returns conscious awareness to the body. In turn, this heightens the mind-body connection.
3: Improves oxygen consumption and blood circulation
Soham meditation is all about proper breathing. Proper breathing is essential for general health and wellbeing.
The exercise will help you to start diaphragmatic breathing, which will increase your intake of oxygen and improve your blood circulation.
4: Improved concentration
When we are stressed, we are too full of thoughts to concentrate. Soham helps with this in a couple of ways.
Firstly, the technique involves visualizing a circle of light around us, and this trains the mind to detach from distractions. Secondly, the Soham mantra relaxes the mind, which improves our levels of focus and concentration.
If you’d like to increase your levels of focus, read my guide to meditations for concentration.
Note about Hamsa meditation
There is an alternate version of So Hum that is called Hamsa meditation (Hamsa because the words So Hum are reversed).
The method is the same but when we do Hamsa we hear Ham on the inhale and Sa on the exhale.
Both methods are legitimate. Indeed, Swami Muktananda [founder of Siddha Yoga] taught both methods, according to Acharya Kedar (The Sutras on the 5-Fold Act of Divine Consciousness).
Both forms are wonderful, relaxing techniques that will quiet your mind and relax your body. If you’ve been stressed it will help you to unwind and to let go. Try it for 20 minutes and let me know how you get on. And for best results, book a private session with me.
Paul Harrison is a passionate meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison