In this guide we will be looking at the technique of Soham (So Hum) meditation and Hamsa, benefits of which include relaxation and concentration. I personally learned this one from reading one of my favorite mantra books.
So Hum meditation (Soham, Hamsa or Hansa are other names of the method) 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.
According to Olivelle, Patrick (1992) in the book The Samnyasa Upanisads, the meaning of So Hum mantra is “I am he / she / that”. Scholars generally 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 Mantras. Motilal Banarsidass] another meaning of So Hum mantra is “I am the swan”, with the swan representing Atman (true self). The phrase is found in the Principal Upanishads, including the Isha Upanishad.
Soham meditation is all about identifying yourself with the universe. The name of the meditation refers to the sound we make when we do it. The “So” is the inhalation sound and the “Hum” is the exhalation sound.
There are lots of benefits of So Hum meditation and it is a very easy mantra meditation that is suitable for beginners.
Let’s take a look at how to do So Hum meditation and the benefits it provides.
So Hum Meditation Benefits
Soham meditation benefits us in many ways. The following are some of my favorite benefits of Soham 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 Soham meditation technique. One of the main reasons people meditate is for relaxation. In a world of constant noise and business, it is incredibly healing to stop and meditate for 20 minutes or so.
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. We get so full up with thoughts and mental distractions that our minds drift away from the body and we lose the mind-body connection. One of the best benefits of So Hum meditation is that is gently returns conscious awareness to the body, and this heightens the mind-body connection.
3: Improves oxygen consumption and blood circulation
Soham meditation is all about proper breathing. Proper breathing technique is essential for general health and wellbeing, and this meditation will help to improve the way you breathe. By improving diaphragmatic breathing, Soham meditation technique increases our intake of oxygen, which in turn improves blood circulation.
4: Improved concentration
When we are stressed we are too full of thoughts to concentrate. Soham meditation helps with this in a couple of ways. Firstly, when we visualize the circle of light around us it train the mind to detach from distractions. Secondly, the Soham mantra relaxes the mind, which greatly improves our levels of focus and concentration.
If you’d like to increase your levels of focus, read my guide to meditations for concentration.
How To Do So Hum Meditation (Soham)
It’s best to practice Soham meditation daily for around 20 minutes at a time. You can always go longer if you like, but 20 minutes is the minimum that I advise you to do. If you’d like to make it a habit, try practicing at the same time each day.
Adopt one of the proper meditation postures. It’s important that your spine 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. You can always use a meditation chair to help with this. Read my guide to proper breathing techniques for more on this.
Many experts also recommend using the jnana mudra with this technique.
Soham meditation uses both a mantra and a visualisation. Before you start reciting the mantra you will want to create the visualisation. 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.
3: Release physical tension
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. Your breath becomes smoother. You can feel your breath expanding out from your diaphragm and spreading around your body, relaxing you.
4: Energy centres
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.
5: Focus on your eyebrow centre
Next, rest your conscious awareness on the centre of your eyebrows. Be aware of your breathing as it fills 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. Stay for 20 minutes.
Meditate on your breath as it flows throughout your body and spreads out into the space around you. Open your eyes and express gratitude for this meditation. It is a wonderful meditation, and there are many benefits of the So Hum meditation technique.
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 meditation we say Ham on the inhale and Sa on the exhale. Swami Muktananda [ founder of Siddha Yoga] taught both Soham and Hamsa meditation, according to Acharya Kedar (The Sutras on the 5-Fold Act of Divine Consciousness).
Both Hamsa meditation and Soham are wonderful and relaxing meditation 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.