Sohum. Doesn’t that sound like a nice, releasing sigh?
It’s one of my favourite mantra meditations.
I like mantra meditations for their soothing repetitiveness, and because I find it easier to focus my mind this way than with visualisation which is, strictly speaking, a different technique to meditation. You can get very carried away with visualisation and pretend to yourself that you are still focusing your mind effectively.
With mantra, if you wander off, you won’t be repeating the words. So you can’t pretend.
So means ‘I am’ and Ham (pronounced Hum) means ‘That’, referring to everything, all of creation. It’s a way of celebrating our connection to everything else in the world around us – plants and people and animals are all using the same air, and we all walk on the same ground.
Sit or lie comfortably. Close your eyes, settle into your breath, and let your muscles relax.
As you inhale, say to yourself ‘so’ and as you exhale, ‘hum’.
Try to focus on this for a few minutes, and if your mind wanders, just gently come back to the words, without frustration. It’s a practice, not a perfect!
When you string the sounds together, they also come out as ‘Hamsa‘.
A hamsa is a swan.
I love swans, particularly the black swans that live on Albert Park Lake and often come down to visit the beach near my house. There’s something subversive about a black swan. Like a bad attitude packaged up in all that grace.
They make the point more clearly than their white brethren. Yes, they are beautiful and graceful, floating serenely on the surface of the water. But underneath, when they are in movement, they are paddling furiously. It takes a lot of paddling to get graceful at it.
And that’s the point.