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Learn to Meditate
A Simple Meditation Technique


“Meditation is absorption in the thought of God or one of His aspects.”

—Paramhansa Yogananda

The following is a very simple meditation technique you can learn in five minutes.

First, Sit Upright

Sit upright with a straight spine, away from the back of the chair. Place your feet flat on the floor, and your arms, palms turned upward, at the joint between your thighs and torso.

Relax the Body

Do this Tense and Relax exercise to help you relax the body:

  • Inhale sharply through the nose, with 1 short and 1 long inhalation (double breath)
  • Tense the whole body until it vibrates with energy
  • Hold your breath and the tension for five seconds
  • Exhale forcibly through the mouth, with one short and one long exhalation (double breath)
  • As you do, throw the tension out
  • Repeat several times

Breathe Evenly

Inhale slowly, counting to eight. Hold the breath for eight more counts, then exhale slowly to the same count. Without pausing, inhale again — hold — exhale, each to the count of eight.

This is called the Measured Breathing Exercise. Repeat it three to six times.

You can vary the count according to your lung capacity, but always keep it equal during inhalation, holding, and exhalation. Finish your practice by inhaling deeply, then exhaling completely.

Hong-Sau Technique of Concentration

Now wait for the next breath to come in of its own accord. When it does, mentally say Hong (rhymes with song). This time, don’t hold the breath, but exhale naturally. As you do, mentally say Sau (rhymes with saw).

Hong-Sau is an ancient Sanskrit mantra (a mantra is a word, syllable, or group of syllables, which can convey spiritual power when pronounced correctly, often with repetition). It means “I am He” or “I am Spirit.” Try to feel that your breath itself is silently making the sounds of Hong and Sau.

Make no attempt to control your breath. Simply observe it as it flows in and out naturally.

In the beginning you may be mostly aware of the physical manifestation of the breathing process as your diaphragm and chest expand and contract.

As your breath grows calmer, however, try to become aware of its flow in the nostrils, then gradually transfer your awareness higher and higher in the nasal passages.

With the eyes closed, turn your gaze upward to the point midway between the eyebrows within your forehead. Concentrate there. This is the seat of spiritual consciousness in the body, also called the spiritual eye, or Christ Center. In time, try to feel the flow of the breath near the spiritual eye within your forehead.

Keep your gaze steady at the point between the eyebrows throughout your practice. Don’t allow your eyes to follow the movement of the breath. If you find that your mind has wandered, gently bring it back to an awareness of the breath and the mantra.

Finish your practice of Hong-Sau by inhaling once through the nose, then exhaling three times through the mouth.

Meditation Proper

Forget the breath. Concentrate deeply at the point between the eyebrows. Keep your mind focused and your energy internalized. Absorb yourself in the peace generated by your practice.

Continue for at least five minutes. Finish with a prayer to the Divine, offering yourself into the light of God.

Ways to Deepen Your Meditation

1. Relax the Body

It is common for new meditators, in an effort to concentrate, to tense the body unconsciously. Deep concentration, however, is possible only in a state of complete relaxation.

Practicing the Tense and Relax exercise is an effective way to release stored-up bodily tension. Together with the Measured Breathing Exercise, these are preliminary exercises taught by Yogananda to help prepare the body and mind for meditation.

2. Pray

Begin your meditation with a prayer. This will help you remember why you are meditating! You will also be inviting the Divine, or your Higher Self, to help you in your practice.

3. Sit Perfectly Still

Moving your body even slightly sends the energy into the muscles. The purpose of yoga is to withdraw that energy inward and upward, to the brain. Thus, any physical movement during meditation will counteract your meditative effort.

To keep yourself from fidgeting, try to think of your body as a rock — solid and unmoving. Refuse to move for the first five minutes of meditation, and you will find that your body will grow calm of its own accord.

Your physical and mental restlessness will subside the longer you sit still. A glass of muddy water will become clear in time if it’s undisturbed. The same is true for us!

4. Eye Position

Your eyes should be closed and held steady, looking slightly upwards, as if looking at a point about an arm’s length away and level with the top of your head.

It is essential to keep your gaze gently raised to that point throughout your practice. This will magnetize your spiritual eye, and draw the energy to the highest spinal center, the seat of spiritual awakening in the body.

5. Do Not Control Your Breath

After the preliminary breathing exercises, you should cease any effort to control the breath. Let it flow naturally. You may notice that the pauses between the inhalation and exhalation are gradually becoming longer.

Enjoy these pauses, for they are a glimpse of the deep state of advanced meditation. As you grow very calm, your breath may become so shallow, and the pauses so prolonged, that it hardly seems necessary to breathe at all.

Do not be alarmed. This is good!

How Long to Meditate

It is entirely up to you. Make sure, however, to allow enough time after the Hong-Sau practice to sit still and enjoy the calm meditative state.

Where to Meditate

If possible, set aside an area that is used exclusively for meditation. In time it will become saturated with spiritual vibrations. A small room, a corner of your bedroom, or even closet can suffice, as long as it is well ventilated.

Keep it simple. All you really need is a chair or small cushion to sit on, and perhaps a small altar. Face East if possible, and place a wool or silk blanket on the floor to insulate your body from the subtle magnetic currents of the earth.

Proper Meditation Posture

In addition to sitting on a straight-backed chair, there are other ways of sitting that are appropriate for mediation. You can sit on the floor in any of the several poses: cross-legged, half-lotus pose, or full-lotus pose.

Two things, however, are essential: your spine must be straight, and you must be able to relax completely without slouching.

Would You Like to Learn More?

The material offered above is a greatly abbreviated explanation of the Hong-Sau Technique of Concentration. The full instruction is available from The Ananda Course in Self-Realization.

In addition to Hong-Sau, The Ananda Course in Self-Realization contains other techniques for beginner, intermediate, and advanced meditation. All of them are scientifically proven to beneficially affect the brain, body, and spiritual development of the student.



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17 Responses

  1. Anne says:

    Thanks for this it is so helpful .


    Could you kindly enlighten me further regarding the techniques of Meditation which are referred to by his HOLINESS PARAMAHAMSA YOGANANDAJI.

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      Yogananda taught several meditation techniques along with his Energization Exercises, including the Hong-Sau Technique of Concentration (on this page), a technique for hearing the sound of Aum, and Kriya Yoga, which is an advanced technique. (You can learn more about Kriya Yoga here.)

      We offer a free online course in meditation that I think you would find helpful as a next step: Free Introduction to Meditation. You could continue from there to learn more.

      Meditation is a really wonderful practice: an investment that will pay off every day of your life.

  3. kishore says:

    i studied life history of swami paramahamsa yogananda in kannada that realy i surpraised bcoz the boy just asking flying kite to his sister the god of mahakali fulfill his wish.not only this i saw lot of powerful saints in the same book.i am also every day half an hour practising meditation to realese every day work tension.

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      That’s great! Glad you enjoyed those books and are meditating. As Krishna said, “Just a little practice of this inward religion [meaning meditation] will free you from dire fears and colossal sufferings.”

  4. Rohit says:

    I heartly appreciate your information. My question is, since I’m not having Altar(which you have mentioned). So, is it fine if I sit on the floor over a woolen blanket facing east? and I would also like to know the reason for facing east only. If u can, i request you to reply me on my e-mail ID.

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      I emailed this answer as well, but yes, what you are doing is fine! The reason Yogananda gave for facing east is that subtle currents of energy move around the earth, from the east, and when you face east you take advantage of them. I actually noticed this difference myself during a seclusion.

      If you can’t face east, that is OK, but if you can, it helps.

  5. nicky says:

    I cry everytime I think of sri sri paramhansa yogananda..i feel so sad knowing that he cant be my guru..i really wish I could learn from him directly..i know his invisible presence would anywys lead me eventually into learning what I need to learn in this life..

  6. monique flament says:

    Thank you very much
    After “Autobiographie d’un yogi” and “La Science sacrée ” I wiish for more realisation
    I am 73 years old and I saw a portrait of Paramahansa Yogananda wen I was 12 !
    I never forgot …the way was long and you are there but very near on the “net” …
    I wrote to Selfrealisation fellowship last week .


    monique flament

  7. charlene says:

    very good, very good indeed

  8. raj says:

    I like this course os self realization.

  9. akshata says:

    now i m at last year of tybmm…. somtimes i loose my temper….. and i feel lacking somthing in me eg. concentration

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      You should consider meditation!

      One of the things it does is focus energy at the pre-frontal lobes of the brain. This actually helps decrease emotions like anger, making it easier for you to keep your temper under your control.

      It takes effort, but the effort is very much worth it.

  10. mounikavarma says:

    Thank u so much ! i really liked this n i am inspired too……….:)- iam studying +2.later i would like to persuie Enggineering in a prestigious college preparation is not upto the mark for bitsat exam.there is only 2 months left over for my exam.its high time now ,i am preparing seriously. but the problem is i am taking more time to learn even simple things .i was very studious in my childhood n always got Rank 1,.as i grew up now i dont know every thing is lost now……….my parents n friends treat like a looser!!!!!!!!!!!!.i cant concentrate more than half an hour on my studies..many things distract me so much.I know my caliber where i could study 4-5 hours at a stretch…..but this not the case now ….even if i make my mind to concentrate more it doesn’t last longer.i know my self i can do it if i study…..but thatz the big problem.iam not able to memorise silly things. i am really worried.its the matter of my life…at any cost i should crack bitsat.its my dream……please tell me few tips so that i can come out of my problem.hope u will understand..ur reply will mean so much to me . PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!
    thanking u

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      Concentration is a habit of the mind, and so you can train your mind to concentrate by your actions and choices.

      One thing you could try is concentrating with focused attention in short bursts. Say to yourself, “For the next hour, I won’t let anything distract me.” Then turn off your cell phone and remove from your environment anything that could distract you.

      Do that once a day at least, and you’ll find that you are gaining back your ability to concentrate.

      Since your exams are coming up so soon, you may want to take things a step further: Find a few friends who also want to concentrate, and have study sessions with them. You don’t have to talk to each other at all, but the group energy will make it easier to achieve your goals.

      Also, make sure you get enough sleep; it is much harder to concentrate and learn if you are tired.

      • jaiprakash says:


        • Nabha Cosley says:

          Dear Jaiprakash,

          I’m sorry to hear about that, it sounds like a challenge. I can’t offer medical advice, but perhaps you could ask your doctor the same question, or find a doctor who is up-to-date with recent research on meditation.

          This is speaking very, very generally, but sometimes people do find with meditation that they no longer need prescription drugs — for high blood pressure, for example. In other cases, they meditate while continuing to take medication, and find benefit from both.

          This is a question that ultimately only you can answer, by practicing meditation and discovering how it helps you. But don’t go off the medication without consulting a doctor!

          Many blessings,