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A Sample Hong-Sau Meditation

Preparation

  1. To calm the body, inhale, tensing the whole body; throw the breath out and relax. Repeat two or three times.
  2. Inhale and exhale slowly and deeply several times. Make the period of inhalation, holding, and exhalation the same. (Suggested counts: 8-8-8, or 6-6-6.) Don’t strain. Repeat six or twelve times.
  3. Mentally check the body to make sure it is relaxed. Periodically, check the body again during your practice of the technique.
  4. Begin your actual practice of the technique by first exhaling, slowly and deliberately.

The Basic Technique

  1. When the breath flows in of its own accord, follow it mentally with the sound, Hong. Imagine that the breath itself is making this sound.
  2. When the breath flows out of its own accord, follow it mentally with Sau, and imagine that it is itself making, the sound, Sau (to rhyme with “saw”).
  3. If at any time the breathing stops naturally, accept the pause calmly, identifying yourself with it until the breath flows again of its own accord.
  4. To keep your mind on the breath (or, when you are more interiorized, to differentiate between inhalation and exhalation), it may help you to bring the forefinger towards the palm as the breath flows in, and away from the palm as the breath flows out.

First Phase

  1. If your breath is still restless, you may be more easily aware of the physical movement of your lungs and diaphragm than of the flow of breath in the nostrils. In this case, concentrate on the purely physical aspects of breathing — the movement of the rib cage, the diaphragm, or the navel.
  2. Gradually, as you grow calmer, transfer your attention from the breathing process to the breath itself.

Second Phase

  1. As your attention begins to focus on the breath itself, watch the breath at the point where it enters the nostrils.
  2. Gradually, with the progressive calmness of the breath, center your awareness of it higher and higher in the nose. To raise this center of awareness, you may find it helpful if you make a special effort inwardly to relax your nose.
  3. As it becomes natural to do so, center your awareness of the breath at the point where it enters the nasal cavity. Feel it in the upper part of this passage, and visualize its movement gently fanning and awakening the spiritual eye in the frontal lobe of the brain.

Third Phase

  1. Become more and more identified with the breath, less and less with your body’s need for it to flow in and out.
  2. Particularly concentrate on, and enjoy, the pauses between the breaths. Dwell on the sense of freedom from the tyranny of constant breathing. Beyond enjoying this sense of calmness and freedom, however, do not try to prolong the breathless state by an act of will.
  3. Direct the will, rather, toward the thought of becoming the air that is flowing in the nose, or of becoming boundless space at the spiritual eye.
  4. As the pauses become prolonged, you may want to engage your attention in chanting Aum mentally.

Key Points

  1. Throughout the practice of this technique, look upward so as gradually to raise your consciousness. Do not, however, concentrate at the spiritual eye until it becomes natural for you to feel the flow of the breath at that point.
  2. Sit very still throughout your practice of the technique. Any physical movement (and also any unrelated movement of thought or emotion) will further excite the breath.
  3. Every now and then, mentally check the body (especially the nose) to be sure it is relaxed.
  4. While chanting Hong-Sau, be sure that you are chanting only mentally. Often, the mere thought of a word will produce an involuntary movement of the tongue or lips, or a slight tension in the jaw or throat. Be sure these parts of your body, too, are completely relaxed.

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