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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.

Enjoy the Stillness

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.

Prayer2. 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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46 Responses

  1. Anne says:

    Thanks for this it is so helpful .

  2. VADREVU VIJAYSANKER says:

    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 language.in 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 .

    A BIENTOT

    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 BITS-pilani.my 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
    -mounika.

    • 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:

        I LOVED ALL ABOUT MEDITATION. I AM TIED UP WITH SLEEPING PILL NITRAZEPAM WHICH I WANT TO STOP. LITTLE WITHDRAWAL MAKES ME RESTLESS AND I CANNOT CONCENTRATE ON MY WORK. CAN MEDITATION HELP ME BE CALM WITHOUT THE PILL. PLEASE HELP ME

        • 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,
          Nabha

  11. simena says:

    Hello Ananda I want to learn meditation I live in Bangkok now
    and speak Spanish and English .
    thanks

  12. Belle says:

    Hi,

    I am a Christian who practice meditation and yoga. Recently, I can listen to the inner humming sound especially from my right ear, it’s high pitched, can change from subtle to forte but it’s soothing and calm, I feel the peace within.

    The problem that I’m worried now is that does this actually affect my belief as Christian? cause Christian doesn’t parties meditation but Buddhist does….

    • Rob S says:

      There is no reason why you need to change your belief system to practice meditation. You can look at it from a scientific viewpoint separately from the religious or spiritual point of view. A number of studies prove its benefits.

      For the record, when I visited Neem Karoli Baba in 1971, I asked him if he was my guru. “No!” he replied, “Worship Jesus. Jesus is your guru.” A Shiva sadhu in Rishikesh said something similar: “What’s wrong with your own religion?” he asked and went on to say adopting a new religion was not the answer. Uncovering the spiritual truths in one’s traditional religion was better.

  13. Gwyn Hocking says:

    This is a reply to a comment posted by Belle on 24-4-14:
    “The problem that I’m worried now is that does this actually affect my belief as Christian? cause Christian doesn’t parties meditation but Buddhist does….”

    Reply: If you mean “practice” not “parties”, then Christianity does have a large interest in meditation, and is not just limited to attending church services. “Retreats” are organised by Christian organisations. Monasteries & convents practice contemplation, similar to in Eastern religions. E.g. Saint Teresa of Avila in her autobiography, “Vida”, and Francisco de Asuna’s “The Third Spiritual Alphabet” are Christian classics, among many others. There are many other examples, and many other Christain saints practiced contemplation. Acolytes like Mother Julian of Norwich even had a cell built into her local church, so contemplation is part of Christainity. Coptic monks mediate in quiet desert surroundings. You can search in Google for meditation & contemplation, related to Christian saints. Look at “Mysticism” by Evelyn Underhill, another western classic.

  14. Muufaddal says:

    Many thanks! Was wanting to know these basics of Meditation since a very long time.

  15. ruma says:

    Hello

    2years Back I Had Kidney Transplant. During That period I Was Introduced to YSS by A Uncle Of Mine. I Have Also Taken Self Realisation Lesson. I Started Practising But Not Successful. I Am Not Able To concentrate. But I Was Able To Fight With My Sickness Confidently I Had A Inner Strength. Now That I Have Started My Normal Life facing Many Day To Day Problems Which Doesnt Allow Me Even To Sit For Meditation. I want To Love Guruji And Feel His Presence. I Want To Live This Life Happily. I Become Upset When I See I Have Not Succeeded In My Career And Life. I Want To Overcome All These And Live Happily.

    • Nayaswami Pranaba says:

      Dear Ruma,

      My suggestion is that you explore working with Yogananda’s Energization Exercises as well as the yoga asanas. These will help your healing process. But also try to sit daily for even five to ten minutes in meditation; it will actually help to minimize your challenges. The Hong-Sau technique which Yogananda taught is very calming and very effective in gaining concentration. If you can summon your will to do these few suggestions you will undoubtedly find positive changes happening in your life.

      in divine friendship,
      Nayaswami Pranaba

  16. Yogesh says:

    thanks very much giving so much information about yoga.

  17. Yogesh says:

    thanks your very much for sharing of these good informations.

  18. DR. G.K.SINGH says:

    I am eager to learn meditation

  19. Rajiv says:

    I like to do this meditation. But sir i have read in internet that third eye brings about unwanted entities in your life. is there any truth in that or just personal experiences based on one’s mind.

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      Hi Rajiv, there’s a lot of information out there on the Internet, for sure! Naturally not all of it is true, so we have to show some discrimination, whether we’re reading reviews on Amazon or looking for spiritual teachings. :)

      True meditation is concentrating on God or one of his aspects, like peace, joy, love, light, sound (the sound of Aum), and so on. When you are in the presence of God, focusing on him, unwanted entities couldn’t touch you. I understand that Yogananda made this very clear; he also offered techniques to handle them if, still, they became troublesome.

      My own experience is that concentrating at the spiritual eye is one of the best ways to dispel negative energies. It increases your magnetism and positive energy.

      Meditation in general might not be good for someone if they were mentally unbalanced. But apart from that, it is almost universally beneficial.

      Try this meditation for a while and see for yourself; if you make the effort each day, you will experience its great benefits.

  20. Anand Gautam says:

    I wish to learn meditation. Will you help me?

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      That’s what we are here for!

      I’d recommend the Ananda Course in Self-Realization. You can take it online or learn it from a book, but one advantage of the online course is that you’ll be in touch with instructors who can answer your questions.

      If you are in India, you should get in touch with an Ananda center there if one is close by. You can find out more at: http://www.anandaindia.org.

      May the practice of meditation bless you very deeply.

  21. Nimma says:

    Dear sir,

    What a wonderful article this is, I was fortunate to attend ananda mediation classes in India. I Have been practicing the haunt sau meditation technique. It is the last activity of the day for me usually near midnight. Sometimes I manage to concentrate between the brows. For a few minutes though. What follows is that I feel very light mentally thereafter. It’s wonderful. The problem is that where I was feeling very sleepy before I started, my sleep vanishes and I start feeling fresh and very alert in the middle of the night. I practice at night because that is the time when kids are asleep and absolutely no disturbance for me. Also I get no bad dreams and wake up with a positive feeling. In better temper too.

    Please tell me, am I experiencing the right thing or am I deluding myself. How to put myself to sleep thereafter?

    I am trying to shift my shedule to morning, but I do not wish to discontinue the goodnight meditation.

    Regards

    • Nayaswami Savitri says:

      Dear Nimma,

      Thank you for writing us and we are glad you enjoyed the article. We are also very glad to know that you are able to meditate regularly and daily. It is a good practice to meditate just before you go to sleep. You can see how refreshing and enlivening meditation can make you feel. But perhaps, for you, just before sleep is not the best time.

      One suggestion would be to do the Energization Exercises before you meditate. Do you know them? You can learn them from Ananda India. It might sound like having MORE energy would not be the best thing to do, when you are trying to get ready for meditation and then sleep. But if you do these exercises correctly, with more focus on the relaxation than the tension parts of them, they may allow you to have a deeper meditation and a relaxing sleep afterwards also.

      But primarily, I’d suggest that you work on having a good meditation first thing in the mornings. This may mean getting up earlier, but still, it is important. It sets the tone for your whole day. This does not mean you have to give up your evening meditation, though you might want to make your evening meditation a little shorter and earlier in the evening if at all possible.

      The more you meditate deeply, the less your need for regular sleep will be. But don’t force it. Find a good balance. I think you are doing the best you can, especially since you are willing to experiment and see what works best for yourself. Call on God and Gurus daily to teach you and guide you in the ways you meditate. They will!

      Blessings and joy to you always,

      Nayaswami Savitri for Ananda Sangha Worldwide, Ananda Village, Nevada City, CA USA

  22. Rajiv says:

    Sir/Madam,

    I have been practicing this meditation since last two days. Is it normal to feel a good vibration throughout my body after meditation.Sometimes a cool breeze comes in to my legs. any insights

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      Hi Rajiv,

      Yes, it’s normal to have experiences of one kind or another. That sounds like a good thing! The experiences may pass, or they may become stronger — as long as they are not too unpleasant, I wouldn’t give them much attention.

      The best thing is to meditate for the highest that such a practice can give you: inner peace, joy, and ultimately, bliss. But those may take time.

      If things change, feel free to write back. Best wishes with your meditations.

  23. Gouri mukherjee says:

    I shall be very grateful, if you could tell me, whether it should be done at the same time, daily.

    Thanking you.
    With deep respect

    Gouri

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      Dear Gouri, meditating at the same time every day does help — your mind gets into a rhythm that way and meditating becomes easier. The most common times are:

      – After waking up, before breakfast
      – Before lunch
      – After work / school / before dinner
      – Before falling asleep

      I’m not saying you need to meditate at all of those times! But once in the morning and once in the evening is good.

      Though it isn’t a requirement to meditate at the same time each day, it certainly helps.

      Joy to you,
      Nabha

  24. navdeep kaur says:

    i tried it just for 10 min.and i realy feel d difference…thank you lord…

    this is realy gud…and this is the way i will b able to conect to Him…

  25. nan tomaino says:

    I would love to learn more about Ananda. Is there information I can be sent via e-mail?

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      Hi Nan,

      Actually the best way to start learning is at the About Ananda Sangha page here on this website. There’s a 20-minute video overview that gives you a tour of Ananda’s centers, worldwide, and also programs like Education for Life.

      Of course, if you have any questions or want to talk about it further, by all means email us — you can email us here.

      You may like to subscribe to our email newsletters as well to keep up with news and so forth. And be sure to visit Ananda.org often ;)

      Joy to you,
      Nabha Cosley

      Part of the Ananda.org web team

  26. JOGESHWAR GHOSH says:

    Meditation _ The way of manifestation of devine or spiritual power within me … very much interesting. Is there any branch of imparting training to the beginers at Calcutta ( Kolkata ) ?…

    • steve says:

      Hi Jogeshwar,

      Thank you for your interest. We do currently have a meditation group in Kolkata… and all the information about classes and satsangs can be found online at http://www.anandakolkata.org/.

      Hope to see you there sometime soon. Our center is located in Ballygunge!

      Joy!

      Acharya Steve

  27. Rajsekhar Ghosh says:

    Do you have any meditation centre at Kolkata India. I would like to join as well as make family, friends and relatives to join. If required a special session may be arranged. I am available in Kolkata from 15th Dec 2014 to 06 Jan 2014. Will look forward. Warm Regards.

  28. Manoj says:

    I want to know if there is some group or centre in Indore where I can go and learn meditation

  29. Amit says:

    Dear Manoj

    Ananda doesn’t have a center in Indore yet. But you could checkout our online offerings on anandaindiaonline.org if you find any material which is inspiring. These are online classes started with the intention to reach souls everywhere in the country.

    If there is anything I could assist you further, please get back to me.

  30. yogesh suryavanshi says:

    please give more in-depth knowledge .

    above knowledge is very nice