Meditation is the process of centering our awareness in the principle of pure consciousness which is our essential being. We have lost awareness of our true self through awareness of external objects, and become habituated–even addicted–to objective consciousness. Rather than disperse our consciousness through objects that draw us outward away from the source of our being, we must take an object that will have the opposite effect, present it to the mind, and reverse our consciousness.
That object is Om. By sitting with closed eyes and letting the mind become easefully absorbed in experiencing the inner repetitions of Om we thereby directly enter into the state of consciousness that is Om, the state of consciousness that is Brahman the Absolute.
The Practice of Om Yoga Meditation
1) Sit upright, comfortable and relaxed, with your hands on your knees or thighs or resting, one on the other, in your lap.
2) Turn your eyes slightly downward and close them gently. This removes visual distractions and reduces your brain-wave activity by about seventy-five percent, thus helping to calm the mind. (If your eyes turn up or down spontaneously during meditation, that is all right. But start out with them turned down.)
3) Breathe naturally. Your mouth should be closed so that all breathing is done through the nose. This, also aids in quieting the mind. Though your mouth is closed, the jaw muscles should be relaxed so the upper and lower teeth are not clenched or touching one another, but parted.
4) Gently, without any strain, put your awareness in the center area of your brain that is directly below the crown of your head at the level of the point between your eyebrows. (Approximate is good enough, you need not be painfully exact about this.) This area is the highest center of consciousness, the Chidakasha (Space [Ether] of Consciousness) and contains the pineal gland. Let your awareness rest there lightly.
5) Be aware of your breath naturally (automatically) inhaling and exhaling, and feel (imagine) that it is taking place in the Chidakasha itself.
6) Now begin mentally intoning Om once throughout each inhalation and once throughout each exhalation, “singing” It on a single note. Fit the intonations to the breath–not the breath to the intonations. If the breath is short, then the intonation should be short. If the breath is long, then the intonation should be long. “Hear” (imagine) your intonations taking place within the Chidakasha area. Make sure the O and the M get approximately “equal time”–Oooommmm, not Oommmmmm or Oooooomm. Don’t torture yourself about this–approximately equal is good enough, and in time your intonations will automatically occur in this right manner. Also, your intonation of Om should begin when your inhalation/exhalation begins and end when it ends. In this way your intonations should be virtually continuous, not with long breaks between them. That is: OommOommOommOomm, or Oomm-Oomm-Oomm-Oomm, rather than Oomm…Oomm…Oomm…Oomm. Here, too, approximately continuous is sufficient.
7) For the rest of your meditation time keep on experiencing the breath and your inner intonations of Om taking place within the Chidakasha area–for they do originate there in the higher levels of your existence. This enables you to enter effortlessly into the Witness Consciousness that is your finite spirit within the Infinite Spirit that is God.
“Amazingly Om can become a silent sound.”
8) In time your inner mental intonations of Om may change to a more mellow or softer form, even to an inner whispering, but Om is always fully present and effective. Your intonations may even become silent, like a soundless “mouthing” of Om, yet you will still be intoning Om in your intention. Amazingly Om can become a silent sound. This is a mystery, but you can experience it. for yourself. But of this be sure: Om never ceases. Never. You will no doubt find that your intonations of Om move back and forth from more objective to more subtle and back to more objective. Just intone in the manner that is natural at the moment.
9) In the same way you will find that the experience of your breath in the Chidakasha will also become more subtle and refined, and slow down. Sometimes your breath can become so light that it almost seems as though you are not breathing at all. At such times you may perceive that your inhaling and exhaling are more like a magnetic pull in and out instead of actual breath movements. This occurs as the prana that produces the breath switches back and forth in polarity from positive to negative.
10) As you meditate, at different times you may become aware of an area of your brain or body other than the Chidakasha area. This is all right when it happens (and stops) spontaneously, but keep centered on/in the Chidakasha.
11) Also in time you may find that the Chidakasha area expands somewhat and begins radiating/vibrating outward through the entire “thousand-petalled lotus” of the brain. At other times you may find that the Chidakasha area contracts to a small point, even smaller than the tip of your little finger. You may even find that awareness of the Chidakasha area becomes peripheral (or even fades away altogether) and you become aware of the breath and Om taking place in the pure Chidakasha tattwa–the core of your consciousness itself. Whichever is natural and spontaneous is good. But at the beginning of each meditation be sure you start out being aware of the Chidakasha area and then let things develop as they will.
12) Thoughts, impressions, memories, inner sensations, and suchlike may also arise during meditation. Be calmly aware of all these things in a detached and objective manner, but basically ignore them. Even though something feels right or good when it occurs, keep your attention centered in the Chidakasha and on your breath and Om.
13) If you find yourself getting restless, distracted, “fuzzy,” anxious or tense in any degree, just take a deep breath and let it out fully, feeling that you are releasing and breathing out all tensions, and continue as before.
14) Remember: Om Yoga meditation basically consists of centering your awareness in the Chidakasha area and experiencing your breath and your intonations of Om in time with the breath as though they are taking place there. (Which they really are.) At all times remain relaxed and easeful, without strain.
15) At the end of your meditation time, keep on intoning Om in time with your breath as you go about your various activities, remaining aware of the Chidakasha area as much as possible or practical.
Simple and easy
“Om Yoga is also that simple and easy because it goes directly to the root of our bondage.”
Can it be that simple and easy? Yes, it can, and is. Suppose some people who have always lived in tents entered a house and came upon a locked door. Knowing nothing of doors, locks, and keys, how would they open it? They might throw themselves against it, beat on it with their fists or heavy objects such as sledgehammers or even some kind of battering ram. If someone approached them with a tiny key they could easily snap in two and told them it would open the door, they would laugh at him. But he would simply insert the key, turn it, and enter. It would be that simple and that easy. Om Yoga is also that simple and easy because it goes directly to the root of our bondage which is a single (and therefore simple) thing: loss of awareness.
Now let us look at the various components of our Om Yoga practice so we can understand it fully.
We sit upright for two reasons. First, so we will not fall asleep. Second, to facilitate the upward movement of the subtle life force called prana.
It is important that our meditation posture be comfortable and easy to maintain. Yoga Sutra says: “Posture [asana] should be steady and comfortable.” The Yoga Vashishtha simply says: “He should sit on a soft seat in a comfortable posture conducive to equilibrium.” (Yoga Vashishtha 6:1:128) Shankara comments: “Let him practice a posture in which, when established, his mind and limbs will become steady, and which does not cause pain.” Here, too, relaxation is the key. Though sitting upright, be sure you are always relaxed, for Yoga Sutra says: “Posture is mastered by relaxation.”
If you can sit in a cross-legged position without your legs going to sleep and making you have to shift them frequently, that is very good. Some yogis prefer to sit on the floor using a pillow. This, too, is fine if your legs do not go to sleep and distract you. But meditation done in a chair is equally as good. Better to sit at ease in a chair and be inwardly aware than to sit cross-legged and be mostly aware of your poor, protesting legs.
If you use a chair, it will be good if it can be used only for meditation. (The same applies to a pillow, pad, or mat used for cross-legged meditation.) This will pick up the beneficial vibrations of your meditation, and when you sit on it your mind will become calm and your meditation easier. If you cannot devote a chair to your meditation, find some kind of cloth or throw that you can put over the chair when you meditate and remove when you are done. (Some people like also using a special shawl or meditation clothing or a robe when meditating.)
If you have any back difficulties, make compensation for them, and do not mind if you cannot sit fully upright. We work with what we have, the whole idea being to sit comfortably and at ease.
There is no objection to your back touching the back of the chair, either, as long as your spine will be straight. To hold your back in tension is a distraction. If you can easily sit upright without any support and prefer to do so, that is all right, too.
Put your hands on your thighs, your knees, or in your lap: joined, separated, one over the other–whatever you prefer. The palms can be turned up or down. Really it does not matter how you place or position your hands, just as long as they are comfortable and you can forget about them. There is no need to bother with “mudras” as they are irrelevant to Om Yoga practice.
Hold your head so the chin is parallel to the ground or, as Shankara directs,
“the chin should be held a fist’s breadth away from the chest.” Make a fist, hold it against your neck, and let your chin rest on your curled-together thumb and forefinger. You need not be painfully exact, about this. The idea is to hold your head at such an angle that it will not fall forward when you relax. Otherwise you will be afflicted with what meditators call “the bobs”–the upper body continually falling forward during meditation.
Meditation is not a military exercise, so we need not be hard on ourselves about not moving in meditation. It is only natural for our muscles to sometimes get stiff or for some discomfort to develop. Go right ahead and move a bit to get rid of the discomfort.
Some yogis prefer facing east or north to meditate, but it has been my experience that in Om Yoga it simply does not matter what direction you face. Yet, you might want to experiment on your own.
Relaxation is the key to successful meditation just as is ease and simplicity. When we
are relaxed the subtle life energies become freed to flow upward, as already mentioned. We also need to be relaxed in both body and mind to eliminate the distracting thoughts and impressions that arise mostly from tension.
“When restlessness or distractions occur, take a deep breath through your nose, let it out, relax, and keep on meditating.”
It is only natural that you will find your mind moving up and down–or in and out–during the practice of meditation, sometimes being calm and sometimes being restless. Do not mind this at all; it is in the nature of things. At such times you must consciously become even more calm, relaxed, and aware–“lighten up” in the most literal sense. As already said, when restlessness or distractions occur, take a deep breath through your nose, let it out, relax, and keep on meditating.
It is also natural when we begin turning our awareness inward that we will encounter thoughts, memories, various emotions, feelings, mental states, and other kinds of experiences such as lights, sensations of lightness and heaviness, of expansion, of peace and joy, visual images (waking dreams), and such like. None of these should be either accepted or rejected. Instead we should calmly continue our intonations of Om. The inner sound of Om and the states of consciousness It produces are the only things that matter, for they alone bring us to the Goal. We should never become caught up in the various phenomena, however amazing, entertaining, pleasant (or how inane, boring, and unpleasant) they may be, and be distracted from meditation. Experiences must not be held on to, nor should they be pushed away, either. Instead we should be quietly aware of them and keep on with meditation so in time we can pass far beyond such things. This is relaxation in attitude.
Never try to make one meditation period be like one before it. Each session of meditation is different, even though it will have elements or experiences in common with other sessions.
Do not be unhappy with yourself if in meditation it seems you are just floating on the top rather than “going deep.” That is what you need at the moment. Keep on; everything is all right. Remember: Om is not just intelligent, It is Divine Intelligence, and whatever is best for you to experience is what It will produce, either late or soon–but always at the perfect time.
It is important in meditation to be relaxed, natural, and spontaneous–to neither desire or try to make the meditation go in a certain direction or to try to keep it from going in a particular direction. To relax and be quietly observant is the key for the correct practice of meditation.
Correct meditation practice is never passive or mentally inert. At all times you are consciously and intentionally intoning Om. It should be easeful and relaxed, but still intentional, even when your intonations become more gentle and subtle, even whisperlike or virtually silent.
Closed mouth and eyes
Breathing through the mouth agitates the mind, so keeping your mouth closed and breathing only through the nose has a calming effect.
Turning the eyes slightly downward and closing them gently greatly aids in relaxation and calmness. The Gita says: “Let him firmly hold his body, head and neck erect and perfectly still, looking toward [samprekshya] the tip of his nose, without looking around.” (Bhagavad Gita 6:13) Not that the yogi makes himself cross-eyed! Rather, he gently turns his eyes downward at a slight angle, then relaxes and forgets all about them
It is perfectly natural for the eyes to spontaneously move up and down during meditation as the life force (prana) flows in different channels of the subtle bodies, but it should always be natural and not deliberate. Just begin meditation with the eyes turned slightly down and let what happens, happen.
As already said, by closing your eyes you remove visual distractions and eliminate over seventy-five percent of the usual brain wave activity so the mind becomes easily calm.
The Chidakasha area
The Bhagavad Gita says in the beginning of the fifteenth chapter that the entire field of relative existence is like a tree whose roots are above and whose branches and leaves are below in the material world. This is not only true of the macrocosm, but also of each one of us that are microcosms–reflections of the macrocosm. Our “roots” are in our head–our body, limbs, and senses are the trunk, branches, and leaves. The Chidakasha is literally the taproot into the Infinite, the gateway of higher consciousness–both ascending and descending.
It is also spoken of as a cave and as the same as Om. “Verily, the nature of the ether within the space [of the Chidakasha] is the same as the Syllable Om.…Verily, it becomes for ever the support of the meditation on Brahman.” (Maitri Upanishad 7:11) “The yogi that becomes identical with Om becomes identical with the imperishable Being. Pranava is the bow, the atman is the arrow, and Brahman is the target. It [Brahman] should be pierced [entered into] by one who does not err. He shall be concentrated therein as in regard to the arrow. The single-syllabled word, Om, is hidden in the cave.” (Linga Purana 91:49a) “The man who, having subjugated his senses, repeats every day the Pranava Mantra, shakes off his mortal coil and is converted into the Chidakasha which is but another manifestation of Parabrahman. For Om is the Parabrahman Himself.” (Agni Purana)
In the introduction to his book, Pranava Gita, Swami Pranavananda Giri, “the saint
with two bodies” written about in Autobiography of a Yogi, sums up the whole purpose of our involvement with intoning Om at the Chidakasha: “The omnipotent inordinate cause is Paramatma. That Paramatma is within this body. The exact location of this Paramatma in the body and how the mind may be made to merge with It, has been determined by the yogis. Sadhakas have seen through their practice, that this Paramatma, despite the fact that it is omnipresent, exists in the Chidakasha in a conscious form, and the Pranava is its expression.” The Chidakasha is the abode of our Self, the center-point of our incarnation in relative existence.
In a sense there are two kinds of “spirits”–the infinite Spirit (Paramatma) and the finite spirit (jivatma). They are one, yet they are two. Through the japa and meditation of Om centered in the Chidakasha we untangle this mystery and come to know ourselves as the eternal witness. Especially in meditation, as we put our awareness on the breath and the sound of Om in the Chidakasha where they are flowing and vibrating, we cultivate the “witness consciousness” that is the solution to all our problems and the eventual end of all suffering.
The actual spiritual entity that is the Chidakasha area is the subtle energy area or whorl which is reflected in the body as the center of the brain. In esoteric tradition, East and West, it is known as “the jewel in the lotus,” the hub of the “thousand petalled lotus” center (chakra) that corresponds to the whole brain. As the physical glands control the physical body, in the same way the “jewel in the lotus” ultimately controls all the processes of life, causal, astral, and physical.
Just being aware of the general area (desha) of the Chidakasha is sufficient. You may think of (or even experience) it is a sphere two to four inches in diamenter directly
below the crown of your head at the level of the point between your eyebrows. (Again, this is approximate.) You know you have “got it” when you feel a gentle, light pressure within the midst of your head.
You may find it helpful to locate the Chidakasha area by putting your attention–or even pressing lightly with your finger–on the crown of your head, which is directly connected to the Chidakasha according to both Hindu and Taoist yogis. I find that usually makes me aware in the middle of my head, producing the light pressure already mentioned. If you are not sure just where the crown of your head is, put the entire side of your forefinger against the side of your head just in front of your ear and pointing upward. Then slide your hand up and over the top of your head until the tip of your forefinger is at “the summit.” That point is the crown of your head. Attention at/in the Chidakasha should always be easeful and gentle, without strain or tension. Make sure of this, otherwise you may give yourself a headache.
It is my experience, also, that the more I am relaxed and aware of the subtle, inner sound of my intonations of Om, the more easily I am aware of the Chidakasha–that I literally feel the vibratory movements of Om within it. “He who journeys on the ship of Om, in him the inner akasha becomes manifest by and by.” (Maitrayana Upanishad 6:28)
You may find in meditation that the Chidakasha area seems to expand a bit and irradiate the entire thousand-petalled lotus. Or it may contract to a small point. Whatever is spontaneous is all right. At such times you may also become less aware of the center of the brain (or the small point) and more aware of the Chidakasha–the Conscious Space element–itself, experiencing it as a field of conscious space of no particular dimension. But at the beginning of each meditation start with awareness of the Chidakasha area of two to four inches in diameter.
Throughout your waking hours, as well as in japa and meditation, be calmly and gently (no strain!) aware of the area of the Chidakasha in the midst of your head, and feel that your breathing and your intonations of Om are taking place within it.
“Sound–mental sound–is the beginning, middle, and end of our meditation practice.”
Sound is the basis of all that “is.” Sound is the way to the realization of All That Is,
including our true self and the Supreme Self, God. “By sound one becomes liberated” (Anavrittih shabdai. Brahma Sutras 4.4.22). Sound–mental sound–is the beginning, middle, and end of our meditation practice. Consequently, listening to and experiencing the effects of our our inner intonations of Om at/in the Chidakasha area is the heart of our meditation practice.
American studies in business psychology have uncovered a most interesting fact: people can detect falsehood much more easily if they are only listening to a speaker and not seeing him. This is because sound stimulates the etheric bodies which reflect the light of the spirit, the wisdom faculty in man. Knowing this many thousands of years ago, the Vedic yogi-seers instructed their students to meditate on sound alone, for from sound arises knowledge (jnana), including self-knowledge.
The entire realm of manifestation is really nothing more than an infinite variety of sound, variations of a single Sound that is the origin and ending of all other sounds. That Sound is Om, the basic resonant frequency of the entire field of existence. “Verily, the Syllable Om is all this, yea, the Syllable Om is all this” (Chandogya Upanishad 2.23.3). “Om: this Syllable is all this” (Mandukya Upanishad 1,8,12).
It is the keynote of the consciousness that is our true self. “The Self [atman] is of the nature of the Syllable Om. Thus the Syllable Om is the very Self. He who knows It thus enters the Self [Supreme Spirit] with his self [individual spirit]” (Mandukya Upanishad 1,8,12). “Meditate on Om as the Self” (Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.3-6).
And since we and God are one, it is the keynote of Divine Consciousness as well. “Om is Brahman, the Primeval Being” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 5.1.1). “That [Om] is the quintessence of the essences, the Supreme, the highest” (Chandogya Upanishad 1.1.3). “Om is the Supreme Brahman” (Svetasvatara Upanishad 1:7). “God is the Syllable Om” (Svetasvatara Upanishad ). “Om is Brahman” (Taittiriya Upanishad 1.8.1).
Om, then, is the entire focus of our meditation. “One should meditate on this Syllable [Om]” (Chandogya Upanishad 1.1.1). “Meditate on Om as the Self. May you be successful in crossing over to the farther shore of darkness” (Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.6).
And since It has no intellectual meaning, Its repetition helps us in getting beyond the chattering mind.
I. K. Taimni has this to say regarding Om, the Pranava: “The first and most effective
means which Patanjali prescribed for overcoming the distracted condition of the mind is the japa and meditation of the Pranava. He calls the Pranava the vachaka of Ishwara. What is a vachaka? A vachaka is a name which has a mystic relationship with the vachya–the entity designated–and has inherent in it the power of revealing the consciousness and releasing the power of the individual for whom it stands. Such a vachaka is Om. It is considered to be the most mystical, sacred and powerful mantra by the Hindus because it is the vachaka of Ishwara, the Greatest Power and the Supreme Consciousness.
“It may seem preposterous to the ordinary man not familiar with the inner side of life that a mere syllable can carry hidden within it the potential power which is attributed to it by all yogis, and references to which are found scattered through the sacred scriptures of the Hindus. But facts are facts and they are not at all affected by the ignorance and prejudices of people who disbelieve in them. Who could have believed fifty years ago that a mere neutron moving among a number of uranium atoms could produce an explosion powerful enough to blow up a whole city?
Anyone who understands the theory of mantra yoga and the relation of vibration with consciousness should be able to see that there is nothing inherently impossible in the idea of a mystic syllable possessing such a power. Besides, we should remember that the facts of the inner life with which Yoga deals are based upon experience no less than the facts of Science.”
Shankara puts it very simply: “Through Om the Lord is met face to face.” (Commentary on the Yoga Sutras) And even further: “When the yogi has understood the identity of Om and Brahman he attracts the grace of the supreme Lord through Its repetition and meditation.” (Commentary on the Yoga Sutras) Commenting on the Yoga Sutras, he says: “Meditation is setting the heart on the Lord Who is designated by Om and brought into the mind by It.”
We mentally intone Om in japa and meditation, “singing” it on a single note, because this unifies the mind and enables our awareness to turn inward steadily and surely. Further, intoning the sound makes it easier to be aware of and to hold on to.
Once more: Be sure in your intonations to give equal value to the O and the M, letting them resonate inwardly–Oooommmm, not Oooooomm or Oommmmmm. Again, you need not be painfully exacting about this–just make sure the O and the M are approximately equal. Also, it is good if the intonations of Om are virtually continuous, not with long breaks between them: OommOommOommOomm, or Oomm-Oomm-Oomm-Oomm rather than Oomm…Oomm…Oomm…Oomm.
As we go deeper in meditation our perceptions of the inner sound of our mental intonations of Om become increasingly subtle. At first they may be more like ordinary sung speech, but they will progress to become more and more soft until they become a kind of “whispering” and in time can be actually silent–a kind of silent movement–very much like when we silently mouth words instead of speaking them aloud.
When we intone in a most subtle, virtually whispered, or silent, way we still think of Om as being intoned, and mentally intend to intone, even if we do not inwardly hear or sense the difference. And our intonations, however subtle, should never be weak or tenuous.
It is important to let your intonations of Om change as they will. They will naturally and spontaneously move back and forth from more objective to more subtle and back to more objective.
“The breath is found as a dominant factor on all the planes of existence.”
The breath is found as a dominant factor on all the planes of existence. It is necessary for the vitalization and functioning of all vehicles of consciousness, physical or superphysical. It combines in itself in some mysterious manner the essential qualities of both energy and consciousness and is thus able to serve as an instrument for their actions and reactions on each other. The purpose of being aware of the physical breath is to enable you to become aware of “the breath of the breath,” the inner movement of consciousness that manifests as the physical breath.
The more attention we give to the breath, the subtler it becomes until it reveals itself as an act of the mind, not the body, and finally as consisting of mind-stuff itself. The breath, like an onion, has many layers. In the practice of Om Yoga meditation we experience these layers, beginning with the most objective, physical layer and progressing to increasingly subtle layers that are rooted in pure being.
Since it is natural for the breath to become increasingly refined as you observe it, you need not attempt to deliberately make this happen. Your attention and intonations of Om will automatically refine it.
As we become more and more aware of the subtle forms or movements of the inner breaths, it automatically happens that the breath movements on all levels become slower. This is the highest form of pranayama. (See Chapter Five: Breath and Sound in Meditation.)
Joining Om to the breath
“Speech and breath are joined together in the Syllable Om.” (Chandogya Upanishad 1.1.6) The breath and Om arise from the very root of our being, the spirit. Joining Om to the breath extends Its transforming vibrations throughout the entire range of our being. It also unites the different aspects of our being and begins more effectively and rapidly evolving us, returning us to the Source–but now transformed.
“The breath is continually sounding ‘Om.’” (Chandogya Upanishad 1.5.3) We join intonations of Om to the breath because on the subtle levels it is always producing the sound of Om. The spirit-self breathes Om. So by consciously joining Om to our breathing we link up with our spirit-consciousness and enter into it. Further, when the habit of intoning Om with the breath is established, the simple act of breathing will cue the mind to maintain the intonations.
Om should be intoned once throughout each inhalation and once throughout each exhalation because there are two poles or subtle currents within the causal realm that make the sound of Om as they move outward and manifest as inhalation and exhalation. In a sense there are two Oms–positive and negative–which together produce the projection of the cosmos and the individual’s manifestation therein. So the two Om’s affect the two sides of the yogi’s being. Ultimately they are one, and by his joining of Om to his breath, each breath moves him onward toward the goal of Divine Unity. “To reach It is said to be the greatest of all achievements. It is my highest state of being. Those who reach It are not reborn.” (Bhagavad Gita 8:21)
This is necessary because in all relative beings the prana-breath has become corrupted and confused, binding the spirit rather than freeing it. The prana-breath has gotten out of phase, out of tune or off key–out of alignment with Om, the original Keynote of the universe. By intoning Om in time with his breath, the Om yogi takes charge of his prana-breath, realigns, and repolarizes it, restoring it to its original form and function. In this way he sets himself squarely in the upward-moving stream of evolution and accelerates his movement within it.
It is very necessary for us to begin our intonations of Om when our inhalations/exhalations begin, and end the intonations when the breath movements end. This is because one object of Om Yoga is to perfectly synchronize Om with the breath in case the two have gotten out of phase with one another. This is why you may find on occasion that you tend to feel like beginning your intonations of Om somewhat after (or even before) the breath begins its movement. The remedy for this is to bring them into harmony by making sure to intone in sync with the breath.
Again: we breathe through the nose, not the mouth.
Making the two into one
We are speaking of “the breath and Om,” but in reality they are the same thing. The breath is not just a stop and go light, used merely to let us know when to intone Om. The breath is a form, a manifestation, of Om. So are all things, but the breath is the closest to pure Om since it takes its existence directly from Om without any intermediate phase. In Om Yoga we intone Om in time with the breath so the two will remerge and become one, restoring their eternal unity.
It is important that the breath and Om to be timed together–perfectly integrated. That is why the intonation of Om should begin with the breath movement–whether inhalation or exhalation–and end with its cessation. We need not exaggerate this and turn our meditation into a torment of anxiety, but reasonable care should be taken.
Subtler sound and refined breath
“Whatever is right at the moment–Om will bring it about.”
“Assuming the meditation posture, and all the while introspecting, the yogi should listen to the sound [of Om].…By persisting in the practice in the same manner further and
further, the sound will be heard subtler and subtler.…The mind, lost in that sound forgetting everything outside, becomes one with it, like water and milk and forthwith merges with the Chidakasha.” (Nadabindu Upanishad)
More and more it is becoming known, even scientifically, that whenever we put our attention on something, the object begins changing. This is true of our breath and our intonations of Om. As we calmly fix our awareness on them they become increasingly refined. The breath becomes gentler and easeful, often slowing down until our breathing becomes as light as the breeze of a butterfly’s wings. It is the same with our internal intonations of Om. The inner sound becomes softer and whisperlike, and even virtually silent. These refinements will occur naturally and easily; there is no need to try to make them become more subtle. Whatever is right at the moment–Om will bring it about.
We ourselves are both consciousness and sound–sound waves in the ocean of Consciousness and Sound. We are Om. So in Om Yoga practice, especially when we experience the permutations of the subtle sounds of Om, we are actually experiencing ourselves.
Experiences in meditation
As you meditate, you may become aware of one or more areas of your brain or body at different times. Thoughts, impressions, memories, inner sensations, and suchlike may also arise as well. These things arise and subside, just as the scenery changes as we
travel down a road, but we keep on intoning Om in time with the breath and let them move on by as we intone, listen to, and experience Om in the Chidakasha. Do not let your attention become centered on or caught up in any of these inner phenomena. Even though something feels very right or good when it occurs, it should not be forced or hung on to.
Om can also produce peace, awareness and quiet joy in your mind as well as soothing radiations of energy in the physical and subtle bodies. Be calmly aware of all these things in a detached and objective manner–they are part of the transforming work of Om, and are perfectly all right–but keep your attention centered in the Chidakasha, in your intonations of Om in time with your breath.
The three elements of Om Yoga meditation
There are three components of Om Yoga meditation: 1) being aware of our breath as it moves in and out, 2) mentally intoning Om in time with the breathing and listening to those mental intonations, and 3) experiencing these first two as though they are taking place in the Chidakasha in the midst of the brain. They are the essential ingredients of Om Yoga meditation, and we should confine our attention to them. If in meditation we feel unsure as to whether things are going right, we need only check to see if these three things are being done and our attention is centered in them. If so, all is well. If not, it is a simple matter to return to them and make everything right.
Of the three, listening to the mental intonations of Om is the major key to success in meditation. It is essential that we become centered in the etheric levels of our being, from which sound arises, and this is done by inwardly intoning Om and listening to those intonations. During meditation, whatever happens, whatever comes or goes, relax and keep listening to your inner intonations of Om. It is the sound of Om that accomplishes everything. And by listening to It you become totally receptive and responsive to It so It can work Its transforming purpose to the maximum degree. It is awareness of our inner intonations of Om that enables us to become centered in our true self. Sri Ramana Maharshi said: “The Ekakshara [Om] shines for ever in the heart as the Self.” And: “Earnest seekers who, incessantly and with a steady mind, repeat ‘Om’ will attain success. By repetition of the pure ‘Om’ the mind is withdrawn from sense objects and becomes one with the Self.”
There are certain invariables–absolutes of practice–which we must be aware of and conform to in our meditations. They are:
1) Om never ceases. Never. We must not let passivity or heaviness of mind interrupt our intonations by pulling us into negative silence. That would be a descent rather than an ascent.
2) In intoning, we must always give equal value to both O and M. At least approximately so.
3) We always intone Om in time with the breath.
4) Our intonations of Om, like the breath to which we are linking them, should be virtually continuous, not with long breaks between them. That is: OommOommOommOomm, or Oomm-Oomm-Oomm-Oomm rather than Oomm…Oomm…Oomm…Oomm.
5) We always meditate with closed mouth and eyes.
6) We always maintain awareness of the Chidakasha area, even at the times when awareness of other areas of the body or brain–or even the whole body or the energy fields extending beyond the body–arise.
7) The focus, the center of attention, of our meditation is the sound of our mental intonations of Om in time with our breath. In an easeful and relaxed manner we become absorbed in that inner sound. This is meditation; this is spiritual life.
Into the witness consciousness
“Having made the mind one-pointed, with the actions of the mind and the senses controlled, let him practise Yoga for the purification of the self.” (Bhagavad Gita 6:12)
We center our awareness on our breathing and intoning of Om in the Chidakasha area because the purpose of Om Yoga meditation is to become centered in our true being, the consciousness that is our true self, our atman–which is one with the Chidakasha, the Conscious Ether/Space itself. Shankara defines correct meditation as the “meditation established in the perception of the nature of Spirit alone, pure Consciousness [Chidakasha] itself.” Yoga Sutra tells us: “Liberation is attained when the mind is the same as the spirit in purity.” That is, when through meditation we are permanently filled with nothing but the awareness of pure consciousness, the Chidakasha, liberation is attained. “That is the liberation of the spirit when the spirit stands alone in its true nature as pure light. So it is.” This is the conclusion of Vyasa. The pure consciousness of I AM alone prevails.
The atman-self is never anything but consciousness, yet it, like God, has extended itself outward as the many levels of our present state of being. Unlike God, we have lost control over just about everything, and by becoming absorbed in awareness of our external being have caused it to take on a virtually independent existence, dragging us along with it. Conversely, by keeping ourselves centered in the pure awareness, the witnessing consciousness that is our real self, we will begin the process of turning all those levels back into pure spirit.
The root cause of our ignorance and its attendant miseries is forgetfulness of our true Self–and God, the Self of our Self. Since the two are really one, it follows that our meditation must consist of that which is both self (atman) and Supreme Self (Paramatman). And that “one thing” is Om. For: “The Pranava is both the atman and Brahman; they are united to each other.” (Narasingha Tapini Upanishad)
It is traditional in India for some brief prayer to be made before and after meditation. Usually before meditation a simple prayer is made asking divine blessing and guidance. Then at the end another brief prayer is made giving thanks, offering the meditation to God, and asking divine blessing for the rest of the day. There is no set form, just words from the heart. This is not essential for Om Yoga practice, but those who are so inclined may find it beneficial.
Japa and meditation of Om
Japa and meditation of Om support each other. Continual japa of Om during your daily routine will increase the effectiveness of your practice of meditation, and daily meditation practice will deepen the effect of your japa outside meditation. By the two wings of japa and meditation we ascend through Om to the Highest That is Om.
“When his mind becomes unwavering from meditation on the Lord, let him do japa of Om.”
Commenting on the Yoga Sutras, Vyasa tells the Om yogi: “It has been said: ‘After Om japa, let him set himself in meditation, after meditation, let him set himself to japa. When Om japa and meditation come to perfection the Supreme Self [Paramatman] shines forth.’” And Shankara, commenting on Vyasa’s commentary, says: “Meditation is setting the heart on the Lord Who is designated by Om and brought into the mind by It. Yogis who are engaged in both japa and meditation attain one-pointedness of mind. After japa, which causes his mind to bow before the Lord, let him engage in meditation. When his mind becomes unwavering from meditation on the Lord, let him do japa of Om, for japa leads to meditation. When japa and meditation of Om come to perfection then the Supreme Lord [Parameshwara], the Supreme Self [Paramatman] Who stands in the highest place, shines forth for the yogi.”
When doing japa as we are engaged in other activities there is a profound effect, but we are not able to experience the effects of Om nearly as much as we can while sitting in meditation. The meditation experience is absolutely essential for spiritual progress, just as japa is essential to ensure that meditation will be effective to the maximum degree.
Thoughts do not cease the moment they pass from the conscious mind. They spread out around us, into our aura (the subtle field of biomagnetic and mental energies around our physical body that is seen by clairvoyants as an oval of multicolored light.) and then on into the surrounding creation, ultimately extending to the farthest reaches of the cosmos and then returning and striking back into our aura and mind. This is the process of mental karma. By continually doing repetition and meditation of Om, we set up a continuous current of spiritual vibration that in time becomes a perpetual inflow of higher consciousness as it returns to us after having extended throughout creation and benefited all things and all beings therein. In this way we create the highest form of spiritual karma, uplifting and divinizing both ourselves and all that exists.
Furthermore, every thought is a wave or whorl that keeps vibrating in the very substance of our mind (chitta) and even–depending on how strong they were and how often they were repeated–into future lives. Om, then, imbues us with Its divine light and power, counteracting the past habit of negative, foolish, or idle thoughts.
Therefore, throughout the day and night, whatever you are doing or whenever at rest, continually intone Om mentally in time with the breath within the Chidakasha and center your awareness in the sound. Since there is no time when you do not breathe, this is really not hard.
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