hatha yoga in Austin Texas
Mantra Meditations
On-line Instruction with Charles MacInerney

hatha yoga in Austin Texas

So-Haun Mantra Meditation: This is one of the oldest of the Mantras. A Mantra is a sacred sound used to enhance meditation. Mantric Yoga is a school of yoga that uses different sounds to induce spiritual awareness. So-Haun is sometimes called the Universal Mantra, or the Mantra of Breath. It is said that all creatures repeat this mantra unconsciously as they breath in and out. On the inhalation each creature unconsciously prays So-Ham: that (the immortal spirit) - am I. On the exhalation each creature unconsciously prays Hamsa: I am that (the immortal spirit ).

There several variations on the mantra, and all are equally valid, but my personal preference is the So-Haun variation. In this style you imagine the sound So as you breath in, and Haun as you breath out. As you repeat this over and over, you are saying "That - I am" with each breath. If you allow your awareness to widen you lose focus of beginning and end, and you get ... that, I am, that, I am, that, I am, that, I am. If this sounds familiar, you are probably thinking about the passage in the Bible where God is asked, "Who are you?" and he replies, "I am that I am."

To grasp the power of this statement, refer back to the philosopher Descartes, who said "I think, therefore I am". If being is the result of thinking, what happens if I do not think? At a deep level most of us are scared to allow the mind to stop because that is the absence of ego, the absence of self. And yet it is only in the absence of self, that the power and mystery of God can be experienced!

My father provided me with such a powerful example of this mindset that I was able to begin seeing it in myself. One day, while watching my eldest sister meditate, he could barely restrain himself. Finally when she finished, he moved in with naked curiosity. "I just don't understand this meditation stuff," he began. "When you sit there with your eyes closed, what do you think about?"

One of my students wore a t-shirt to class that said, "Meditation: It's not what you think!" To my father, not thinking equaled oblivion, and thus he was scared of the silence deep within his own mind. People who identify with their thoughts are terrified of letting go of thought and thus must constantly stay busy, distracted, entertained... sound familiar?

Now let us compare these two mantras. First close your eyes and repeat to yourself, "I think, therefore I am. I think, therefore I am." for a couple of minutes. The more you repeat this statement, the more hollow it begins to sound. It loses power with repetition and dissolves into mush. Now repeat "I am that I am" for a couple of minutes. Notice the power and sense of permanence in this Mantra. This is what Mantric Yoga investigates: the ability of certain sounds to gain meaning with repetition, while the majority of words lose meaning.

By identifying with being rather than thinking, you are free to not think, without the fear of oblivion. It is only ego that disappears, not awareness of the present moment. "I am that I am" serves to lesson the fear of the practitioner as they approach the silence of deep meditation, with each breath reminding them that they are one with God, and God with them, and that thoughts are like ripples on the surface of a deep clear pond.

INSTRUCTIONS: Lay down, or sit upright, in a comfortable position, and with good posture. Breathe diaphragmatically. Practice breath awareness. Once the breath has found a steady and comfortable rhythm that has a calming effect on the body and the mind you can begin the Mantra. As you breathe in silently repeat the sound "So" stretching the sound out over the length of the breath "sssssssssoooooooooooooooooooo" (with a hard 'o' sound, as in "so"). As you breathe out silently repeat the sound "Haun" or "Ham" again stretching out the sound over the length of the exhalation "hhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuunnnnnnn" (with a soft "a" as in "haunt") . Repeat this with each breath for 5-30 minutes.

Ujjayi / So-Haun Combination: If you have become comfortable with both the Ujjayi breath (see Breath Awareness Meditations for instructions) and the So-Haun Mantra, then you can try combining them for a more powerful effect.

Instructions: Lie down, or sit upright, in a comfortable position, and with good posture. Breathe diaphragmatically. Practice breath awareness. Once the breath has found a steady and comfortable rhythm that has a calming effect on the body and the mind you can begin the Ujjayi-Breath. Practice until you find a soft whisper that is easily maintained and sounds pleasant to the ear, like a soft sea breeze. As you continue Ujjayi-Breath, overlay the sound of the So-Haun Mantra over the top of the sound of your breathing. Listen to the two sounds, of breath and mantra, and over time allow the two sounds to merge and meld into a single movement.

AUM Mantric Meditation: The sound "Aum" or "Om" is a widely used mantra. "Aum" is said to be the sound of creation, echoing down from creation through the millennium, and heard by adepts in the deepest of meditations. The mantra is divided into 3 parts. Aaaaaaa...Ooooo...MMMMMM...., but all three syllables blend together into one sound. The Aaaa starts in the back of the mouth, and moves into the mouth with an Ooooh, and rolls off of the lips with an Mmmmm humming noise. The first sound of Aaaaaa represents birth, separation, or creation. The second sound of Oooooh represents balance or preserving. The third sound of Mmmmm represents death, surrender, or oneness. The Silence from which the AUM sound rises, and into which it submerges again represents the void from which all things come into being.

The Aum mantra can be chanted out loud, or repeated silently in your mind. Breathe in silently. As you breathe out slowly and smoothly, repeat the mantra. The slower and smoother you can repeat the mantra, the better. Breathing in silently, repeating Aum on the exhalation. Note: this same mantra can also be pronounced OM by dropping the 'aaa' sound.

hatha yoga in Austin Texas

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