Though it humbly poses as a “beginner’s meditation technique,” the Hong-Sau Technique packs quite a punch in the quest for freedom. Anyone who walks in the door at Ananda can learn this technique in five to ten minutes. It is simple and profoundly effective. However, as we continue to practice meditation and receive other techniques, this one can sometimes seem less important. Hong-Sau is immensely important! It teaches us to concentrate. Without concentration, our energies tend to remain scattered and deep meditation is not possible. Below are a few points that have helped me in my practice of this technique:
Remember why you are practicing. Hong-Sau literally means “I am He.” It is an affirmation of the fundamental truth of the spiritual path.
A great sage was asked by a seeker, “What is maya?” He answered simply, “The fundamental delusion that I am here and you are there.” We use this technique to dissolve our false idea of separation from others, from all nature, and from God. It may help to meditate on the thought that God is breathing through all humans, all animals, and all creation at this moment. God is breathing also through you. Try to tune in to the vast cosmic breath in everything.
It prepares us for Kriya Yoga. Kriya is a technique that teaches us to gain control over the energy in our spine. By mastery of these subtle energy currents, the great ones tell us we will gain mastery over ourselves. But if we just start huffing and puffing while letting the mind run rampant, it is nearly impossible to even feel the subtle energy we are working with! Hong-Sau brings great calmness to the breath and mind which are intimately linked together. Calm the breath and the mind will be calm as well as the opposite. It is at this point that subtle energy can be worked with in a dynamic way.
It is part of the prescription. Yogananda’s path of Kriya involves Energization Exercises, Hong-Sau, AUM Technique, and Kriya Yoga. They all work hand in hand. Together they form a synergetic magnetism that helps us achieve true inner silence. It is then that we enter into a state of real meditation. Wise is he who follows his guru’s advice regardless of his own personal preferences. The child who humbly follows his mother’s advice is the one who remains safe in her protection.
Practice with devotion. If Hong-Sau has ever felt boring or secondary compared to Kriya, it is probably because we are forgetting to use it devotionally. It is a way of dissolving our bubble of ego into the ocean of God. Learn to enjoy the technique by being in His presence all the way through. Especially, Yogananda emphasizes, enjoy the natural pauses in between breaths.
Remember to relax and make time for it. The main issue that tends to limit our Hong-Sau practice is the fact that we have a certain amount of time to meditate and we want to “get our kriyas in.” This technique is a wonderfully effective way to relax into the Divine Presence before our Kriya practice. Don’t short-change yourself by rushing through it.
A major misconception that I, and I suspect many others, have suffered from is thinking that the techniques are the main event. Not so! Feeling close to God is the point of meditation. Our sadhana is not something that we “get done” and then move on to other things. It is a way of life. If we treat it like a to-do list, then it will become dry. The techniques provide a medium through which we can practice the most essential part of the path: Self-offering. If that is accomplished through the techniques, then the silence following will be filled with the grace and blessings of Spirit. May you realize the ultimate truth that you are He!