“Devotees attempting inward communion with God often find their efforts thwarted by restless thoughts. But long ago, yogis discovered that a restless mind accompanies a restless breath. By simple, effective techniques for calming the breath, they found they could free the mind more easily for divine contemplation.”
—Swami Kriyananda

1. As the breath flows, so flows the mind, yogis say, because there is a feedback system between the mind and the breath. As the breath becomes calmer, so does the mind, and vice versa. In the practice of Hong-Sau we concentrate on the breath, and as we do so, the quieter it becomes.

2. While many meditation methods ask you to concentrate on something outside of yourself, the beauty of the Hong-Sau technique is that you focus on something inside of you — the breath. Since our minds are naturally drawn toward movement, the breath also is a natural focal point for meditation.

3. As the breath quiets, you will feel your breath coming from higher and higher in the nose until you feel it at the highest part of the nose, at the point between the eyebrows. (An important benefit of Hong-Sau is that it directs the mind to the spiritual eye (the point between the eyebrows), but it is important not to try to concentrate at the spiritual eye until you feel the sensation of air stimulating this point. Otherwise your concentration will be divided.) In time, your breath will gradually diminish, until finally, it is automatically and effortlessly suspended in breathlessness. Although this may seem incredible, when the body is totally still and no longer creating waste, there is no longer a need for the heart and breath to keep working.

4. Hong-Sau’s three components of observing the breath, gazing at the spiritual eye, and mentally repeating the mantra, (Hong, with the incoming breath, and Sau, with the outgoing,) all work powerfully together to draw your consciousness toward Spirit. Although it may appear to be a simple technique, its simplicity is its greatness.

5-8. Repeating the Hong-Sau mantra not only gives the mind a point of focus, its Sanskrit syllables stimulate the chakras and have a vibratory connection with the breath, thereby calming it. Yogis say that on a subtle level “Hong-Sau” is the very sound made by the astral breath. Gazing upward at the point between the eyebrows, or spiritual eye, puts you more in tune with the superconscious, because in deep meditation your energy is centered there. Observing the breath helps to calm it, and since the breath, as we’ve said, is the greatest obstacle to deep meditation, Hong-Sau works in the most direct way possible to bring you to a state of true meditation.

9. The practice of watching, but not controlling, the breath brings deep spiritual benefits, one of the most important being a sense of detachment from your physical body and mental processes. Every time you observe the breath without controlling it, you are affirming the attitude, “I am not this body.” Every time your mind wanders and you bring yourself back by repeating the Hong-Sau mantra, you are saying, “I am not this personality.” Paramhansa Yogananda said, “The ego is the soul identified with the body.”

10. Using the Hong-Sau technique also to discipline your mind will bring you a great sense of peace and clarity. You will find that you can think more clearly and efficiently, and so work more quickly. Holding onto the deep calmness you feel from meditation will enable you to apply that peace to all of your activities and relationships. Besides the many spiritual benefits you’ll receive from your Hong-Sau practice, you will discover countless physical and mental ones as well.

11. While visualizations, affirmations, and relaxation practices are extremely beneficial, the Hong-Sau technique is notable for its potential to take you to God. Yogananda said this technique is “the greatest contribution of India’s spiritual science to the world,” and that one hour of Hong-Sau equals twenty-four hours of sitting in the silence. One of the most sacred and ancient of all yoga practices, Hong-Sau is one of the four main techniques that comprise the path of Kriya Yoga, which Paramhansa Yogananda brought to the West in 1920.

May your practice of Hong-Sau be blessed with deep peace and awareness of God’s Presence.

Ananda Meditation App

A free app with guided meditations and techniques, based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda. Go deeper in the joy of your own Self.

Download the app