The Power of “Soham” Mantra
“Soham” simply means “He, I am”, “Brahman, I am.” “Sah” means “He.” “Aham” means “I.”
A mantra is a meditation technique that helps to quiet the mind and allow you to tune into the essence of your being, that which is beyond all thought. Mantras are often referred to as vehicles for the mind because with focus on the repetition of a mantra, other thoughts swimming in the mind dissipate and the mind shifts toward stillness and mental clarity.
Just as a still lake perfectly reflects the moon and moonlight, so does a still mind reflect the power of the ever present Spirit within.
Vedic Philosophy and the Power of So Ham
The So Ham mantra has a special meaning in Vedic philosophy and is often the mantra given to those new to the practices of yoga and meditation because it is so powerful. This is the greatest of all Mantras. This is the Mantra of Paramahamsa Sannyasins. This Mantra comes in the Isavasya Upanishad: “Sohamasmi.”
In previous article, we talked about the power and versatility of ‘Ham-Sa’ meditation.
“Soham” is “Hamsa” reversed.
Soham is only AUM or OM. Delete the consonants S and H. You get O(a)M. Soham is modified Pranava or AUM/OM.
Some repeat a compound mantra “Hamsah Soham – Soham Hamsah.”
Some like ‘Soham’ better than ‘OM’ because they find it convenient and easy to associate it or mix it with the breath. Further there is no effort in doing Japa of this Mantra. If you simply concentrate on the breath, if you simply watch the breath, that is quite sufficient.
Meditation on ‘Soham’ is same as meditation on OM.
Before you practise Soham Dhyana or concentration on “Soham” you must practise the Neti-Neti (not this, not this) doctrine. You must negate or deny the body and the other Koshas by repeating “Naham Idam Sariram”-“Aham Etat Na.”
Basically, “I am not this body, mind or Prana. I am He, I am He!”
Repeat this Mantra only mentally. You should feel with all your heart and soul that you are the All-pervading, Omnipotent, All-blissful Soul or Brahman. This is important. Then only the full benefits of meditation or Japa of this Mantra will be realised by you.
As with all spiritual practices, mere mechanical repetition will not help you very much. Maximum benefits can only be realised through your feeling nature. As Eckhart Tolle says, feeling is the gateway to Being.
Feeling is Self-Realisation.
If your intellect tries to feel, “I am Brahman, I am Omnipotent” but your real thoughts and feelings are those such as “I am a supermarket cashier, I am weak; I am helpless, I have no money, life is a struggle,” realisation is not possible.
You must destroy all wrong Samskaras or impressions, all false imaginations, all weaknesses, all superstitions and all fears. Even if you are in the jaws of a tiger, you must powerfully roar-“Soham, Soham, Soham, I am not this body!” Then only you are a real Vedantin.
Even if you have nothing to eat, even if you are in the roll of unemployment, you must say with great force and power, “Soham, Soham.”
Removing the ignorance of generations
You have been spoiled by the mind and by Avidya (ignorance). It is Avidya, it is mind that has brought one to this limitation through identification with this body and mortal life. Pierce the veil of ignorance, tear the five sheaths and remove the curtain of Avidya, which is a great nuisance. Rest in your own essence through meditation on `Soham’ mantra!
The Jiva or the individual soul is repeating this Mantra 21,600 times within 24 hours. Even during sleep the Soham-repetition goes on by itself. Watch the breath very carefully and you will know this.
You will find real rest during deep meditation – and eventually there will be no necessity for sleep as proven by Lahiri Mahasayaji and other saints who never slept after attaining full enlightenment. To the average person (body and mind only), this idea of not sleeping is a complete nonsense. The average person cannot function well without daily sleep, and the body demands sleep if it is not being refreshed by Spirit in a state of constant samadhi.
The late famous Sri Sheshadri Swami of Tiruvannamalai used to repeat the compound Mantra “Hamsah Soham -Soham Hamsah,” when he moved alone in the streets and bazaar. He meditated on this compound Mantra.
We say ‘God is Love-Love is God.’ Similarly repetition of ‘Hamsah Soham-Soham Hamsah,’ gives more force. This intensifies the force of the Mantra. The aspirant gets more internal strength from the Atman or the Soul-force. This sort of repetition corresponds to the repetition of the Mahavakya, “Aham Brahma Asmi. Brahmaivahamasmi-I am Brahman. Brahman am I.”
Your duration of life is counted really by so many ‘Soham’ breaths in the light of Yoga. It is not really made up of so many years. By the practice of Pranayama, you save the Soham-breaths and thus can prolong your life.
Instructions on practising Soham mantra
This meditation can be done in whatever amount of time is available to you but I recommend setting a timer for 15 minutes initially and building up.
- Close your eyes and take one full minute to settle in by taking a few deep, cleansing breaths. Internally scan your mind and body, noticing areas that are more open and light, and areas that are more dark/dense, closed down and even painful.
- Start to repeat the mantra So Hum to yourself silently in your mind, slowly synching the rhythm of your breath to the mantra.
- As you inhale, silently repeat the word “So“
- As you exhale, silently repeat the word “Hum“
- Continue breathing slowly and aligning your mantra to your breath, being careful not to rush your breath if you notice your mantra speeding up.
- Each time you notice your mind wander, simply draw your attention back to your silent mantra and aligning the pace of your mantra to the pace of your breath.
When your timer goes off, gently release your mantra and bring your attention back to your physical body, and the ‘here and now’.
Take a moment to sit quietly for a minute or two before opening your eyes.
Use this quiet time before opening your eyes to consider the meaning behind So Ham.
Soham is the breath of life, OM is the Soul of breath.
If you concentrate on the breath you will notice that the breath is gradually becoming very, very slow and shallow when concentration becomes deep. Gradually the repetition of Soham will drop when there is deep concentration. The mind will become very calm, intensely still and joy will spontaneously arise.
Ultimately you will become one with the Supreme Self.
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