Keeping alert and totally present during your Hong-Sau practice can be challenging. At times your mind may seem out of control, racing off in many directions at once. The two breathing techniques that precede your practice of Hong-Sau, Tensing and Relaxing and Regular Breathing, are great for calming your body and mind, and getting you started in a dynamic way. If you find that you are restless before, or even, during Hong-Sau, you may find it advantageous to practice these preparatory techniques for a longer period of time.

Practicing the Energization Exercises before you sit to meditate will also significantly increase the quality of your meditations. Whether you’re feeling sleepy or too restless, the strong, inward flow of energy created by these exercises will help you to overcome these obstacles.

To stay more focused during your practice of Hong-Sau, try bringing the forefinger of your right hand slightly toward the palm as you inhale and relax it back as you exhale. Doing this will help you stay focused on the breath and the Hong-Sau mantra. Chanting the Hong-Sau mantra not only gives the mind a point of focus, it helps to calm and internalize the prana, or life-force. As your energy becomes more interiorized, your breath will become very quiet, and using the forefinger can help you distinguish between the incoming and outgoing breaths.

It may help you to imagine that your inhalation is drawing your right forefinger upwards, and during your exhalation, the breath is gently blowing your finger back. (You can make the finger movements very small. And remember, you are just observing the breath, and not controlling it in any way.)

To incorporate using the forefinger in your meditation practice, try first keeping track of the breath with the forefinger without repeating Hong-Sau. Once you get a feeling for how the breath and forefinger work together, add in the Hong-Sau mantra.

It’s not required that you use your forefinger when practicing the Hong-Sau technique. For example, some people feel that lifting the forefinger becomes a distraction when they go deep in meditation. But Paramhansa Yogananda did recommend using the forefinger, and people find it helps them feel more concentrated and grounded during their Hong-Sau practice.