Deepening Your Meditation with Hong Sau: A Class with Brahmachari Sagar
July 29, 2021
The class on Paramhansa Yogananda's Hong Sau technique of meditation was recorded in the Temple of Light at Ananda Village as a part of Spiritual Renewal Week 2021.
You can learn more about Hong Sau and learn to meditate online with Ananda Course in Meditation, our 10-week meditation course.
Hi, everyone. Welcome to this afternoon's class on deepening your meditation with Hong Sau. Before we begin this class and go into the technique of Hong Sau, and I share a little bit about what this class is all about. Let's begin with a prayer. So I invite you to join in with me.
Heavenly Father, Great Masters, Beloved Guru Paramhansa Yogananda. Help us dive deep in these teachings and this ancient technique of Hong Sau. Teach us to use it perfectly and to perfect our own natures. May we use this technique to attain the state of Self-realization. Aum, Peace, Amen.
So, this class is called "Deepen Your Meditation with Hong Sau." And when someone requested me to do a class on meditation, you know, I was playing with the name, I say, "What name should we have?" Now how to meditate would not fit a Spiritual Renewal Week class because many people here already meditate. And most people here are Kriya Yogis, or they have learned the Hong Sau technique of meditation. And so I said, why don't we have a class on deepening our meditation with Hong Sau.
What this class will be, it will revise or review the technique. We want to... we don't want to revise that technique, we want to review that technique, and we will do that. But we will also understand the role it plays and how to do it, hopefully, we will understand how to do it better and make sure that we are not doing it wrong. You know, those of us who practice this technique every day need a review more than those of us who probably won't practice it every day. Because we are investing a lot of time twice a day, ideally, at least once a day, year after year, decade after decade of probably all of our lifetimes. So we might as well do this right.
So I have here a few things. For those of you who are new, we share this technique as a part of our first course on the Path of Kriya, Ananda Course in Meditation, where we go into each component bit by bit in great detail, make sure you can absorb those and put them into play in your daily meditation practice. So we'll have such a course starting next week, you will receive an email about it.
If this is brand new to you, you might find you're receiving a lot of information. That's all right. As you will have the recordings of this webinar available to you. You can come back at any point, and revisit what's shared. And there are many other videos and resources on Hong Sau online, which can help you in your understanding until you take our full-length course, which I encourage everybody to do to learn this technique correctly and completely.
So the other thing is, if you have questions we might not have an opportunity or a way to ask them right now. But you can always send us an email. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. By implication, my name is Sagar, which I forgot to tell you first thing at the start of this course. But you had my bio as a part of the SRW page.
I've been practicing Hong Sau for a few decades, I could say I learned it when I was 12 years old, when I took the SRF lessons. And since then I practiced just sporadically, but I've practiced it consistently for over a decade now. And in my own small little but direct, experiential way I can say this technique is very powerful. And it's also the foundation. It's on the foundation, if the foundation is strong, that you can build an edifice. And so those of you who are practicing Kriya Yoga, you will see if your Hong Sau practice is strong and vibrant and if it can take you deep, it's like the foundation on which all other techniques rest.
How Can We Experience Spirit
In fact, those of you who have done some of our courses know there are eight principal ways spirit can be experienced and we are talking here of direct experience. It's not mumbo jumbo. It's not book knowledge. And those eight ways, each of us, you and I, no matter our nationality, no matter our age, no matter whatever else, by practicing these teachings, we can experience spirit in eight ways. Peace, calmness, joy, light, power, sound, and love, oh, and wisdom, that's the eighth one.
All of them rest on the first experience of spirit as peace and that's what Hong Sau brings. When you feel peaceful enough, you will see that other experiences start gradually dawning on your consciousness. So it's this first state which Hong Sau brings... is very important if you are trying to listen to the inner sounds with closed ears or open ears. It's very important if you are practicing Kriya and are trying to search still and enjoy the state of joy that Kriya produces.
All the meditation techniques take us deep within. Hong Sau has a particular purpose. It also helps us to go beyond the breath. I want to read as a launchpad, something that Paramhansa Yogananda wrote, and then we'll go into the technique itself.
Here's what Yogananda says.
"As soon as you think you have to breathe, you are a mortal."
(Sagar: How many of us can agree to that? That's true!)
"You don't know how our mortal condition is perpetuated by breath. But by Kriya, you will see you are not breathing anymore. When you are absorbed in the AUM, you will see you are not breathing. When I lift my eyes, everything is quiet. I'm always in that superconscious state. By practicing the techniques, I realize that my spirit is superconscious and I'm not a mortal being. As soon as you drive from the altar of your mind, all sensations, the Infinite comes.”
(Sagar: This is important. You don't need to do anything else. As soon as you drive from the altar of your mind all sensations, then there's no other thing that need to be done; the Infinite comes.)
“That's why it's necessary to get rid of the breath. And you have been given the greatest techniques ever in the HONG SAU and AUM techniques. Doing away with the breath is possible by Kriya. So practice Kriya and watch the breath, as in HONG SAU. Then you will know you are made in the image of God, and you are not tied by the cords of oxygen and food.”
So Yogananda used to say—that's a big promise—he used to say 24 hours of any other technique doesn't give the same benefit as one hour of HONG SAU. And he would say, step two, 24 hours of HONG SAU won't produce the same effect as one hour of deep practice of Kriya.
So those of you who have been following this whole pandemic thing, you'll see a lot of statements about exponential growth. And this is an example, you know, you just divide stuff by 24 and you are advancing exponentially on the spiritual path.
But coming back to HONG SAU, there are a few things we have to remember. And let's step back from the technique of HONG SAU here and just review meditation itself. Because HONG SAU in itself is not what we are doing. We are meditating, and HONG SAU is the tool that will take us deep in our meditation.
Three Aspects of Self to Befriend
When we try to meditate, each of us and we will see this if true; each of us has three aspects to our being that we need to befriend. If we befriend them, they are our friends. They support deep meditation. If we don't, they militate against us meditating deeply.
The three aspects are: body; if you don't have a body, you can raise your hand; mind; if you don't have a mind, probably you are not understanding what I'm saying anyway; and then the third is the heart’s feelings. Now these three aspects need to be befriended. And we need to learn to use them to dive deep in meditation. Leave one of these out, and you will see that deep meditation does not become possible.
So how do you befriend the body? That's called Asana. Keep the body still, spine erect, body relaxed, and your eyes gently uplifted. Again, I'm not going to go into each detail in minutiae right now because this is not a beginners’ How to Meditate class. But sit erect, with an erect spine, still, steady, relaxed, and keep the eyes gently uplifted. By doing that, by making sure the body is free of tensions, we press it into our service, so to speak, when we meditate. Because, otherwise, they're sprains here, stresses there, you start nodding, you are too relaxed, and, you know, before you know it, you're not meditating. So the body has to be befriended.
The mind has to be befriended. And that's where HONG SAU comes into play. And we'll talk about that in just a minute.
But that's not enough. The heart’s feelings have to be taken care of also, which is why this Path of Kriya is a heart-centric path. The heart’s aspirations are stimulated by being with those whose heart aspirations are stimulated. That's why when you Autobiography of a Yogi, you are reading the book of somebody who's deeply in love with the spiritual path, and automatically you feel that you want to dive deep on the spiritual path also. It's also stimulated by chanting. It's also stimulated by many other practices, but that aspect is important. We are not going to talk about how to stimulate the heart's feelings today because this is a HONG SAU class. But remember, if your heart's not engaged, HONG SAU is incomplete.
When we think about the spiritual path, Yogananda said all the experiences on this human plane, if we look at them in the right way, are springboards to understand Divine experiences. Human relationships teach us a lot about Divine relationships.
And think about a human relationship where you have mastered all the laws, but the heart is not there. You know, you and your partner have divvied up the chores. You’ve divvied up the finances. You have decided, okay, every day from 7 am to 8 am, we'll be together, and every Saturday, we'll go out for dinner. It's all planned out. But you don't love that person. You know, if there is no heart there, the relationship will fall. And so remember, if you practice HONG SAU technically correctly, if you have your body in the right place in the right posture, but your heart's aspiration is not there, your meditations will run dry. Which is why I come to a quote from Paramhansa Yogananda. This is from his book, The Essence of Self-Realization, where Yogananda says a student said to Yogananda;
“'Sir, I have such difficulty in concentrating. I'm faithful to my practice of yoga techniques, but I never seem to get anywhere with them.'”
“'Mechanical practice is not enough,' the Master replied. 'There must also be sincere interest in what you're doing. You must deepen your devotion. Just observe people at the movies. Don't they become yogis? See how still they sit during suspenseful parts, and how engrossed they are in the plot as it unfolds. All that absorption simply because their interest has been aroused. Meditate in that way. Once you’ve convinced your mind that you really want to meet God in the inner silence, it will be easy for you to sit still and to meditate deeply.'”
And so this is the importance of heart. And I have said that enough times that I want to move to the next part because we only have an hour. But the next part is just heart is not enough. You need techniques, which is why I come to the second part of this same conversation.
"A newcomer to Self-Realization Church in Hollywood asked Paramhansa Yogananda:
"'Why are techniques necessary? Can't a person simply flow with the inspiration he feels when he prays?'"
(Sagar: You know, so this person was in love. He was inspirationally praying, and everything else, he was the other side of the coin.)
"'A violinist may feel inspiration,' Yogananda replied, 'but if he doesn't learn the techniques that have been developed through the experience of great musicians, he will never become more than an inspired amateur. Yoga techniques, in the same way, are necessary to help you to plumb the inner silence.'"
And so, the fusion of these things is what makes for a successful meditation practice. The heart’s aspiration has to be engaged, be enthusiastic about the spiritual path. And then channel that enthusiasm scientifically by using yogic techniques. And this is where HONG SAU comes into play.
There are a few things here. We talked about taking care of the body. We talked about taking care of the heart. Now we are coming to taking care of the mind—making sure the mind supports our meditation.
Now the mind is an interesting creature, and to understand what this mind is all about, and why the need of a technique. You know, I often tell people this story which Yogananda taught/told, and because it's from India, it has an elephant in it. You know, elephants are common in India. Even today, if you go and of walking on the streets, you might see an elephant next to a BMW vying for right of the way, and next to them is a buffalo or a cow. You know, it's a unique place. But coming back to the elephant.
So there was this elephant who was young, you know, it was not yet a mature adult. It was very naughty as kids can be lots of energy. And the handler of the elephant used to sit on the elephant's back, had a lot of trouble making him, you know, follow all the rules. So whenever they went through the village, no matter what his handler did, the elephant's nature was to be restless. So his trunk, you know, he was moving here and there, steal an apple here, a banana there, steal somebody's hat, push somebody else, basically creating pandemonium as he went through the village.
So finally, the handlers said, "Okay, let me try different remedies to get this elephant to be still." First, he tried giving the elephant a sermon, didn't work. Then he tried to be strict and shout at the elephant, "Be still!" It didn't work. So he tried everything else. But then he realized what he was doing wrong was it was the nature of this elephant to do something. You can't make him quiet by giving him nothing. You have to give him one thing to do.
And so what he did was he decked the elephant in wonderful garments, put a crown on his head, got a professional photographer and took a photo of this elephant, framed it, put it on a staff, made a flag out of that photo and gave it to the elephant, and the elephant was so happy. Everybody needs to see my handsome photo. So the next time they went to the village, he had that photo, the staff the flag aloft in his trunk, so everybody would see it. But in doing that one thing, he had stopped pushing people away, stealing an apple, stealing a banana, and all those other things.
And so it's the same with the mind. Try stilling the mind by giving it a sermon. If it works for you, great. But generally,it won't work. Try scolding your mind. That won't work, either. It has to be given one thing that will because it's its nature to do something. Give it that one thing that it can focus on, which brings us to this technique of HONG SAU.
Without HONG SAU, Yogananda said, and this is very important, he said, because those of you who were there in the morning class you saw and Nayawami Jyotish mention the three minds: the subconscious, superconscious and the conscious. Yogananda said, we want to avoid subconscious meandering. Many people spend many years and lifetimes meandering in the subconscious, hallucinations, semi-visions, dreams, half asleep, and HONG SAU is the way to cut through the subconscious. So it's very important, because unless we do that, we don't see that higher state of superconsciousness. So HONG SAU can help us with that.
What Is the Most Important Part of HONG SAU?
Now, let's come to the technique. I'm going to mention a few things here. One is, let's start with the most important part of the technique. And the most important part of HONG SAU, and I'm going to diverge here from what the books say, but you will see why. When I asked this, right now, people have masks, and we can't have a Q&A, so I'll have to give the answer, which is alright. I often ask people in the class what is the most important part of HONG SAU, and they say, observing the breath; then I say, well, what's the most important part of Energization, for those of you who have learned Energization? Many people will say, feeling the energy and all those things. But you know, sometimes I defer, I says the most important part of HONG SAU is to…
Before I answer it, think about it this way, what's the most important aspect for being a good parent? You have to love the idea of being a parent. If you never wanted to be a parent, no matter how hard you try, it's something against your nature. What is the most important factor for being married? You have to love the idea of being married; otherwise, it's a burden you're carrying all along. What is the most important thing for being a monk? You have to love the idea of being a monk, otherwise, you're militating against your own nature.
And so with HONG SAU, too, and Energization, and Kriya, the most important thing is to learn to enjoy the process. And once we do that, all the other things, when you are enthusiastic about something, you read up on it, you dive deeper, you experiment, you explore, you talk to others about it, and everything else follows. Let your enthusiasm lead your spiritual quest and follow it with discipline, persistence, and learning the right techniques rather than creating your own set of teachings. We'll come to that in just a bit.
But now let's get back to HONG SAU. The most important thing in HONG SAU is to observe your breath. Where do you observe it? At the highest point in the nostrils. You don't observe it in the diaphragm. You don't observe it in the chest. You observe it in the nostrils at the highest point where you can feel it.
Now, there are a few things here because that line, observing our breath, sounds like it's easy. But there are a few things observing means three things. If I remember right, we'll see. One is you don't control your breath. You allow the body to breathe naturally. But you're observing, so you control your mind. You know, so while your breath does what it wants, you are not allowing your mind to do what it wants. You are to observe the breath. And this is not easy. And the third thing is: whenever your mind wanders, you bring it back.
What Does Observing the Breath Mean?
You know, observe the breath doesn't clarify a lot of what HONG SAU is about. The more technical definition would be: bringing the wandering mind back again and again to observing the breath. That's what HONG SAU is about. Because when you sit to meditate, you will see, you are meditating, you say, I'm going to practice HONG SAU, observe the breath.
And then, you know, I don't know, whatever errand you're supposed to do after you get up from meditation will start playing in your mind, or the Excel sheet you are supposed to fill for your job project will start playing in your mind, and mentally, you will have filled half the Excel sheet and wondered, well, what will the boss say, what will this person say, when you realize, well, that's not what I was supposed to be doing. I was supposed to be observing the breath.
What you do at that juncture is what will make or break your HONG SAU practice. Drop the thought journey and calmly go back to observing the breath.
Now, do this, whether the thought journey was pleasurable or one that you wanted to get away from. In other words, if in your thought journey, the boss was scolding you, it's easier to say, well, I don't want this, I'll go observe the breath. But if you are getting the best employee award, there might be the tendency to say, well, this I want to play with, let me wait a bit and then observe the breath. Don't do that. Whatever your mind is playing with, come back to observing the breath. This is what trains us.
How to Bring Your Mind Back is Equally Important
Now, there are a few things here. It's not enough to just bring the wandering mind back, because Yogananda said something very interesting, he said;
“Inner tension during this technique can be soporific, producing sleep. Concentrated attention, on the other hand, brings to every body cell a tingling sense of Divine Life.”
Now, why is this important? We will be practicing HONG SAU, which is bringing the wandering mind back at least a million times, maybe millions of times. So how we bring our mind back is as important as bringing our mind back. If you bring your mind back with frustration, "Darn it, I messed up again," you will be affirming frustration millions of times. If you bring it back with anger, you will be at yourself for allowing your mind to wander; you will be affirming that quality a million times. If you bring it lazily, you will be affirming that quality in yourself a million number of times.
How Do We Bring the Mind Back to Observing the Breath?
So the way we bring our wandering mind back is as important, perhaps the most important as compared to just bringing it back. So bring it back with concentration, with resolve, with relaxation, and with a determination, and cheerfulness! "I am in it!"
How many of you have seen Captain America, and, which movie was that? I think that was The Winter Soldier. I don't know if anybody here saw that movie. And what does Captain America tell his friends? “I’m in this till the end.” That's what he tells Bucky. “Don't worry; you can keep going. You can beat me up. I'm in this, I'm on your side till the end.” And that's the attitude you want in HONG SAU. What's there to do?
Bring the wandering mind back again and again calmly, and you will see that; eventually, the practice of HONG SAU becomes a joy. The breath becomes calmer. The mind, which is locked onto the breath, becomes calmer also. You start enjoying the pauses in between the inhalations and exhalations. You start enjoying the process of inhalation and exhalation, and it becomes a joy having to dive deeper.
It's like any relationship in the beginning, it's work. But once the foundations have been laid, and they have been laid right, then the amount of work should reduce. It shouldn't increase.
So coming back to Hong Sau, what are we talking about? The most important thing observing the breath in the nostrils at the highest point possible. And then, as the breath comes in, you mentally chant HONG. As the breath goes out, you mentally chant SAU. The word mentally is important. Don't move your tongue or lips.
The duration of inhalation and duration of HONG are same. The duration of exhalation and duration of SAU are same. The duration of inhalation and the duration of exhalation need not be the same, because you're allowing your body to do what it wants. Very seldom will your inhalations and exhalations be of the same duration.
Let the body do what it wants, but follow it as if the breath is making the sound. Inhale, mentally chanting Hong for the duration. Enjoy the pause. Enjoy the inhalation when the body decides it wants to exhale, exhale, following the exhalation with the mantra of SAU.
During this entire process, keep the body still keep the body relaxed. Keep the mind relaxed. Keep the eyes gently uplifted.
Stay away from the back of the chair unless you have back issues, in which case there are modifications, and you can write.
Don't practice HONG SAU while you are sleepy... in a sleeping posture. In yogic parlance, are on the path of yoga, some things can be practiced...some yogic states can be practiced while sleeping. One of them is Samadhi. When you reach that highest state it doesn't matter, whether you are sleeping or sitting. But you can't learn meditation while you are a novice, which we all are unless we are Self-realized, consider ourselves novices—and sit and meditate. This is how the yogis started.
As you all know, you can sit on a chair. If you sit on a chair, have an armless chair with a straight back, make sure it's comfortable, your feet are firmly planted on the floor, it's not too short, because then the knees come up, it's not too high; otherwise, your feet dangle. Invest in the right chair, in the right place.
In fact, the recommendation is to have a chair and a place or your seat which is dedicated to meditation. It's an investment of consciousness. And places develop vibrations. When you go to temples, you want to meditate. When you go to bars, you want to drink. When you go to cafes, you want to converse and have coffee. When you go to kitchens, you want to cook. So if we have a place, it does not have to be a room but at least a corner of the room where you can meditate, then you will see. And if you keep it uplifted— and don't have it as a mess, then you do not want to go there. But keep it uplifted, and you will want to go there to meditate.
Face east. If you can't face east, face north. Sit on a piece of wool and a piece of silk. That's what the yogis recommend because there's certain downward pulling currents, which keep our energy locked in the lower chakras, because that's the earth element. It's the element that corresponds to the lowest chakra also. But do your best the yogic motto is: progress should not stop because some outer conditions have not been met.
So the ideal state maybe would be you are in an ashram, and everything is perfect, but don't wait for that. Start where you are, and automatically things will start changing around you.
But remember, these little things are not insignificant. Everything comes together. Swami Kriyananda used to say they are like those little strands that tied the lever that the dwarfs used to tie the lever down. Those of you who have read Gulliver's Travels, he was this giant, and they found they couldn't tie him with little strands. But when 1000s of those were brought together, they could keep him subdued.
So these little things it's worth investing in, as is investing in making a routine. HONG SAU is almost ineffective without a strong meditation routine. A vaccine is ineffective without an already existing immune system. That's why you don’t pump a dead person with a vaccine. It won't do him any good. But I'm using analogies here. Whether you like vaccines are not, either is okay. But you have to use something as an analogy. But without a routine, you might know the most powerful technique in the universe, and it won't help you.
So, what do the yogis mean by routine? And I often remind people of this, because this is so important. You have to have a time stamp to when you meditate. Six am, seven am, eight am, start small: five, ten, 15 minutes once a day is okay. Twice a day is even better. Why twice a day? Because the effect of meditating once in the morning wears off.
You know, just like when you go to the doctor, he prescribes a medication, he says to take it twice a day. The simple reason is you take a dose in the morning, its effect wears off, and you need another dose to get the effect again. And so it's with meditation, we made it in the morning, then the troubles of the days come, and you know our attention starts going outward. We need to recenter ourselves once more. So in the evening, we meditate again. Have a set time. Start small, but stick to it. No matter what, stick to it, and, you will see, you will advance on the path of Self-realization. It's not rocket science. These principles are what makes for success in any field of human endeavor.
So, apart from that, with the technique, I was talking about the technique, observing the breath, enjoying the process, observing it at the highest point in the nostrils, using the mantra of HONG and SAU.
And then there is one more thing, which is the index finger movement which people sometimes don't like. Yogananda recommended when you inhale, or when the body inhales of its own accord, bring the right index finger in gently. So it doesn't have to be a motion that disturbs you. It can be very gentle. People might not even see it. Subtle! But bring the right index finger in. And you don't have to keep your arm raised. I'm doing this so you can see it. But when you exhale, relax the right index finger out.
Now most people find this difficult. And, you know, I have been learning, doing some voice lessons with a friend here, and I've been learning the guitar with another friend. And you know, let's take the voice lessons friend. First, I told him certain notes are difficult for me to play. Now he is a good teacher, which is why he didn't say to me, “Oh, you find those things difficult. Don't ever do it. Just focus on the notes in your register that work well for you.” Say, no, your strengths are your strengths, but work on those things that are still difficult because that's where you can improve and become better.
Same with playing guitar. If I go to my friend, Prashad, and say, well, if F chords are hard, he won't say, well forever learn songs that don't have the F chord. He'll say, well, practice the F chord better. So especially for those who have a resistance to moving the index finger, there's something in it for you.
The very fact that you might find it difficult is a challenge, that there is something that aspect of this technique might give you. That’s why I said this particular class is for those who are practicing sincerely, day after day, year after year, decade after decade, until we become Self-realized. Do this perfectly.
Yogananda said, "I have chosen the best and the finest for you. And I've taken away all unnecessary things without which you can find God. I only kept those necessary things. Do them as I have suggested, and you will reach the same goal that I have reached." That's what Yogananda said. And so let's take him up on the challenge.
So, index finger movement, practice it at least four or five years before you gave up on it. I'm just, you know, exaggerating that time here. But, yeah, you will see there is a benefit. And there is the greatest benefit that comes as you tune into the guru, for those of you who see Paramhansa Yogananda as the guru.
It's interesting, I'll often ask people, you know, on the Path of Kriya, what's the best, most important benefit of Energization. And many people will say, I feel energetic, you know, the greater the flow of energy, greater the will, greater the flow of energy and all those things, but sometimes one student will say, attunement to the guru, and I say, you nailed it on the head. The other answers are okay until you take the course on discipleship, you know, you do something because you will gain something from it. But once you become a disciple, even if you didn't know what it was for, you would do it because that's what the guru-disciple relationship means.
So it's the same with Hong Sau. If you become a disciple, why not dive completely and see what it does to you? So the benefit might not come from the index finger movement but from learning to tune in, in a deeper way, to Paramhansa Yogananda. So these things work on many levels. The techniques we have been given, they sculpt us, they carve us on many levels. And the more we dive deep enthusiastically, the more we gain from them.
Which reminds me. This is another story with Hong Sau. Now, I know most people won't do this because this is a group in which most of you are Kriya Yogis, who have been practicing these teachings and have a connection with Yogananda, but I say this still, don't change the technique. The moment you change it, it does not remain the HONG SAU technique of Yogananda.
Sometimes people ask me oh, well, can I replace HONG SAU with I AM SPIRIT? And I say sure, but don't call it the HONG SAU technique; call it the I AM SPIRIT technique or something else. So you know, you are not practicing the HONG SAU technique anymore. Or they say, well, can I say I am He, or so hum. Well, call it something else. It's a variant. Again, I'm using ideologies and terminologies from what I'm seeing in the news these days, but we want the actual thing.
So, you know, there's a story Swami Kriyananda often used to say. And for those who are not Indian, the Indian part of the story would stick out, and you will see why. But for me, in a humorous way, the American part of the story stuck out, and again, you will see why.
The story was Swamiji said, in a school, the teacher asked the class to write an essay on the camel. And so different people from different nationalities did different things. He says the Japanese went to the library, and let's say he read upon the camel and wrote his essay. The English said I will visit the zoo and see a camel, and he wrote an essay that way. The German said, I'm going to go to the best camel tamer I know and interview him. And I'll write an essay that way. And so on and so forth. You know, everybody did their own thing. And Swamiji used to say, the Indian, he went to his meditation room, he had his meditation place, which faced east and all those things that we talked about. He closed the curtains. He sat in the lotus posture, and he started meditating, Lord, tell me all about the camel. So he was hoping to get all the inspiration in his meditation, which is what most people remember. But I remember when Swami said the American, he went to the zoo, or somewhere he saw a few cameras, and he wrote an essay, how to make a better, more efficient camel, you know, two humps and bigger ears, bigger feet, I don't know.
But Yogananda was very appreciative of the Western spirit, especially of wanting to improve. And that's part of how we evolved. But not with yogic techniques. These techniques are already perfect. They don't need your or my improvements to make them work better, in fact, unknowingly, because they are so subtle, they work with us as we are made physically, astrally, causally, and on the soul level, which we have no ideas about. The more we play around with them, the more we might add things that we don't want to add.
So practice that technique as it is taught. I often say yoga is unique. It's ancient and state-of-the-art. Very few other technologies are like that; they're either ancient or state-of-the-art, but it's ancient because truths don't change our natures, how do I put it? If you have an operating system, every few years, few months, there is an upgrade, which you have to download. Even now, I was printing these, and when I shut down my computer, Windows 10, it was updating. It said okay, don't turn it off. We are updating. But we are not like that, you know, our chakras remain the same. Every five years God does not update our chakra, saying, well, there is a new chakra, version 10.2. You know, I've improved it on their social level, now version 11.3. No! We are what we are, it's already perfect. And these techniques work with that level of perfection.
Summary of What We’ve Covered
So what have we covered thus far, we have covered the importance of Hong Sau. We have covered the importance of being enthusiastic and in love, both with the spiritual path and learning to love and enjoy the technique. But while doing that, remembering to come back again and again to the first principles: observe the breath, and the highest point in the nostrils with the mantra, don't control it. Bring the wandering mind back again and again with peace and calmness, knowing that this technique in its own time will work.
It will work. It does work. Yogananda use to say, I'm talking from the testimony, not of my own life, but thousands of years of yogis who have testified that these teachings work. And finally, very soon, you will be adding your own testimony to because these techniques are made for you and me who are here on this planet in this age.
And so, with all this said, the final thing Yogananda use to say is, don't get up and leave after practicing a technique. Sit and enjoy the peaceful after-effects it creates. So, if you practice HONG SAU for ten to 15 minutes, sit and enjoy the after-effects of Hong Sau, the peace and calmness that come for another ten to 15 minutes. Drop the technique but don't get up. Enjoy and dive deeper. It's like preparing a meal and then sitting to enjoy it. In that stillness, you can receive that peace. If it goes deep enough, you'll start hearing the inner sound or start seeing the inner light, or that peace will translate into joy, intense bliss.
Otherwise, it's time to open your heart and pray deeply. Also, true prayer happens after the practice of the techniques, when the mind is still the heart is open. We start our meditations with a prayer but through prayer also, as Yogananda used to say, prayer after practicing Kriya, the power is multiplied a hundred thousand times. And so when we are interiorized, that's the time to intensely demand, All right, Lord, stop messing around with us. We want to go home. You brought us here. You better bring us back. And when we can do that with our energies, focus on that demand. God has no choice. You know, He starts helping us also.
So let me see if I had anything else that I wanted to share. Though, like I said, be adventurous with Hong Sau. Sometimes taking an hour or two, all night, three hours, or four hours. Find a buddy, somebody who loves practicing Hong Sau and dive deep and see what it does to you. Think about human romance. So you never want a relationship to always have a rut and follow that rut. You always want it to be adventuresome, new, and the same thing also is applicable to the spiritual path. Bring a sense of adventure and joy to it, and it becomes joyful and adventurous.
At the same time, use the techniques. Don't just flow with your inspiration, but channel it using the HONG SAU. Those of you who have received Kriya use Kriya. Use the AUM technique because these have particular purposes. They bring results. And when you're not practicing HONG SAU, practice the principles of Hong Sau. Remain centered. Be a good observer, sensitively tuning into other people's realities. See if somebody else needs help. Because most people just think about themselves, I, me, my mine. There is no observer consciousness. But learn to be an observer. Make true friends. Help others smile. A good test of whether you are progressing on the spiritual path is whether people are happy to be around you. Know that these tests are simple. It's not just how many hours you meditate, how still you sit, but what does that stillness do to you once you get up? And what does it do to others? If it's creating ripples, then there's something wrong.
So, which is why this whole Path of Kriya is a path. It's not just one technique. It's not conveyed over a one-hour lecture. But we expect people to commit. We have these series of classes which train people in these different nuances. And then you see it all comes together in a wonderful whole and helps us become Self-realized. And helps us to help others wherever they are on their own spiritual quest.
So, with that, let's do some guided meditation. I was curious about how we would do on time, but we have 20 minutes. So, I'm going to transition to that chair there. And we'll do a short meditation together. Like I said, if there are any questions, thoughts, or feedback, you can send us an email at email@example.com or any other email eventually will find its way to the right person. And it's always a pleasure to share these teachings. It's a pleasure to practice these teachings as part of this wonderful community. So, let's do a HONG SAU meditation together.
So, let's keep our spines erect away from the back of the chair. If you're on a chair, try to plant your feet firmly on the floor. Be relaxed. We don't have to be perfect in this meditation. We just have to be there and be able to follow the technique as it's been given to us.
So, make sure your spine is erect, chest open, and palms up turned at the juncture of thigh abdomen, eyes gently uplifted, [Pause], heart smiling. You left all your worries and tasks on a shelf. Don't bring them into your meditation. [Pause] And let's again do a short prayer.
Heavenly Father, Great Masters. Jesus Christ, Babaji Krishna, Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Sri Yukteswar, Paramhansa Yogananda. We invoke your blessings. Help us to use your guru-given techniques to reach the same state of Self-realization that you and all Great Ones enjoy. AUM, Peace, Amen.
[Chanting, lines repeated:]
I awake in Thy light. I awake in Thy light. I am joyful, I am free, I awake in Thy light.
I awake in Thy Light, Love, and Joy. I'm joyful, I am free, I awake in the Light.
So let the words of this chant reverberate in your mind just for a couple of minutes or a few seconds. I awake in Thy Light, Love, and Joy. I am joyful, I am free. I awake in Thy Light. [Pause].
Preparing the Body for Meditation: Double Breathing
So, let's prepare the body. Those of you know that double breath, double breathe through the nose. Tensing the body, not the mind, just the body. Double exhale through the nose and mouth, relaxing the body. Do this three times. Tense, vibrate. Don't be in a hurry. Relax and feel. Don't be in a hurry. Double inhale and tense, and enjoy the relaxation. Double inhale and tense. Enjoy the relaxation.
Even Count Breathing Exercise
And let's do a few rounds of even count breathing. Inhale to a count of six. Use your belly. Be very relaxed. Hold. Again, be very relaxed. Exhale. Inhale again, expanding the belly. Hold. Exhale. One last time. Hold. Exhale. Take a deep breath filling the lungs, [Pause]. And whenever the body wants, now don't control your breathing, let the body decide when it wants to exhale. Exhale completely. [Pause] Make sure your spine is erect, and eyes are gently uplifted. And observe the breath in the nostrils. [Pause]
The Practice of Hong Sau
As you feel the breath coming in, mentally chant HONG for the duration of inhalation, enjoying this process. Enjoy the pause if there is a pause. And whenever the body starts exhaling, follow it mentally with the mantra of SAU. Again, enjoy this process. Be alert. Be relaxed, and enjoy the pause if there is a pause. Let's do this for a minute or two, observing the breath in the nostrils at the highest point you can feel it, with the spine erect, eyes uplifted and body relaxed. [Long Pause, following the Hong Sau process]
If the mind has wandered, gently bring it back to observing the breath. Make sure your spine is erect, eyes are uplifted. Your entire attention is on observing the breath, not at focusing on the point between the eyebrows. HONG as you inhale. SAU as you exhale, and enjoy the pauses as you do this for another couple of minutes. [Long Pause following the Hong Sau process]
Now as you observe the breath, try to bring the right index finger in as you inhale. Enjoy the pause. Whenever the body exhales, relax the right index finger out, very gently. Do this for another minute or so. Spine erect and eyes gently uplifted. Body and mind relaxed. [Long Pause following the Hong Sau process]
Now gently let go of the technique. But keep sitting still. Make sure your eyes are gently uplifted. And relax and enjoy the stillness that comes when the body is steady, and the thoughts have been rested or at least subdued. Feel the relaxation in the heart and at the point between the eyebrows, and immerse yourself in that. [Long Pause following the Hong Sau process]
Very deeply, if you like, you can pray to Yogananda, to Master, or to God. [Pause] "I'm in this to the end." [Pause] Ask them to bless and help your efforts and to inspire them.
A Few Closing Tips
That was a really short Hong Sau meditation, but we have these two-hour meditations every morning as part of SRW if you are able to join. And try in those meditations to do Hong Sau for longer. Hong Sau, by the way, very interestingly means I am Spirit. And I have often... or I Am He. And I've often thought, well, it does not say, I might be Spirit. Or now that I've acted well, I am Spirit. But now, if I’ve not done well, I'm not Spirit. It's not conditional. It simply affirms our true nature. And eventually, by practice, it brings us to a realization of that affirmation.
These techniques, the path of Kriya, Yogananda said, is foolproof. And so, they will take us to that destination if we keep trying. You don't have to be perfect in practicing Hong Sau. If your mind does not wander, you don't need it; why would you practice Hong Sau? If your mind is wandering, use the technique. Like I said, if there are any questions, you can always write us later and we are there. We are all on this journey together. And we'll reach the divine goal together.
Thank you all for joining. And I hope many of you can come for the kirtan later this evening. Joy to you.