[Please contact me if you would like clarification of the Hong-Sau technique.]
THE ESSENCE OF HONG-SAU KRIYA
The Hong-Sau (aka Ham-Sa, So-Hum, etc.) Kriya (activity with awareness) is more than a mere Mantra (liberation through sacred vibrations) and more than a mere Pranayama (liberation through control of the flow of Cosmic Energy). It is a very powerful combined technique which focuses the mind and develops profoundly deep concentration.
The Hong-Sau Kriya utilizes the Universal Mantra - the sacred vibration associated with the incoming and outgoing breath. This Universal Mantra is available to all humankind without the need for "initiation" by a special teacher to bestow its Adhikara (the spiritual gift of the giver which traditionally empowers a Mantra).
It is a common experience that the mind is mostly preoccupied with reliving memories of the past, contemplating events of the future, acting out imaginary conversations and situations, etc. These inner distractions create a filter which warps ones perceptions of life and reality. We have all observed this in people, but often fail to observe it in ourselves. This filter is more recognizable when given its common name - the Ego.
If one desires to undergo profound change, then one must learn to glimpse reality without the tainted filters of the Ego, and to free oneself from creating a self-fulfilling, negative future.
When one focuses on the breath in Hong-Sau Kriya, one's mind is fully focused only on the present moment. The filters are dropped. With continued practice, one develops the profound ability to focus intently on a philosophical concept or a life issue, and see the solutions clearly, in a wonderful "the answer was right here all of the time" experience.
Like many aspects of Kriya Yoga, the Hong Sau Kriya seems to be absurdly simple. And so it is.
When you reach the end results, you will find yourself recalling what you really knew all along, but had simply forgotten for what now seems just a moment. Even if that "moment" was half a lifetime, it makes no difference, as, seeing everything, you realize that you had always seen everything, but just had chosen to ignore it for a while - your relationship with the Infinite is ever so and was ever so.
One can, through Hong-Sau Kriya, reach illumination within this very life- time!
It may take some practice before the Kriya will be free of mental distractions, and without trying to control the breath as opposed to merely observing it.
THE PRACTICE OF HONG-SAU KRIYA
At any time of the night or day, if you find yourself standing in line, waiting on the phone, lying awake in bed or otherwise in a situation where the body is relatively motionless and the mind is not preoccupied, you can practice Hong-Sau Kriya. It can also be practiced, of course, as part of a formal meditation session.
In time, you will be able to perform this technique even while engaged in daily activities (more on that later).
Cleansing Breath (Optional):
Hong-Sau Kriya can begin with a Cleansing Breath. Facing forward, Inhale slowly, deeply, through the nose. At the end of the inhalation, turn your head to the left, exhale quickly twice through the open mouth with explosive breaths, one short and one long - "Huh huuuh". When the breath is fully exhaled, close the mouth. Turn your head forward and relax. By expelling the air in this direction, you are casting off the Ego Self. (In Samadhi, you may actually see the dark cloud of your Ego float off to the left of you as you directly access the True Nature of Reality without the Ego Filter).
Repeat 3 times.
For the rest of the practice, you are breathing normally, naturally, through the nose. You are not counting the number of breaths, or focusing on anything except the natural inhalation/exhalation cycle of your breathing.
As the breath flows in of its own nature (through the nose), mentally chant Hong. (It's Hong as in Long). When the breath flows out of by its own nature (through the nose), mentally chant Sau. (It's "Saw" as in Seesaw). There is no mental sound at the pause between inhalation-exhalation and between exhalation-inhalation.
In breathing Hong-Sau, there is no forceful or wilfully guided inhalation or exhalation, no straining of the breath, no holding the breath, and no breathing to a rhythmic chant. You just observe the breath as it takes care of itself.
When the breath is at the point between exhalation and inhalation, you simply remain in silence and enjoy the meditative bliss of that breathless state.
The result of Hong-Sau Kriya is an increase in the interval of breath suspension between exhalation and inhalation. This naturally increased interval of breathlessness is what it is about. It is this moment of silence which gives one a glimpse of Samadhi (the breathless state).
You may find at times that you have become so deeply focused during the interval of breath suspension, that you have lost awareness of your breath. You are not mentally distracted - you are focused - and have not been breathing at all for an indeterminate length of time. This is the beginning stage of Samadhi.
(Note again that never at any point in time does one willfully hold their breath during the practice of this technique.)
By observing this breathless state, you mystically loosen identification with your body. You come to realize you are something other than the body. You come to know that your body is sustained by a life energy other than something which comes with physical breathing.
COMBINING HONG-SAU KRIYA WITH OTHER PRACTICES
Many practitioners combine Hong-Sau Kriya with other techniques. Others make the Hong-Sau Kriya their exclusive practice. There is no one answer or set of techniques which fits the needs of all practitioners. Develop a deep trust in your intuition to help determine which practices are best for you.
Some teachers advocate strict, unwavering adherence to a given set of practices, in a "One Size Fits All" philosophy which can be inefficient as well as ineffective. It is most important that you make it your primary goal to face and overcome any weaknesses that are barriers to your progress of spiritual development, using the best tools available to do so. "Trust no one, not even me, unless it agrees with your own conception of logic and common sense."
HONG-SAU KRIYA QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Q: I find myself controlling my breathing - I can't help it.
A: Repeat the Cleansing Breath from 3-15 times. This will help you to breath more naturally during the Hong-Sau Kriya.
Q: I am very relaxed, and then realize I am not breathing, and my mind panics. After that, I am too wound up to practice the Kriya any further.
A: In time, this response diminishes. It important to stress again that at no time during the practice of this technique is the breath ever willfully held.
Q: I have received the Mantra Hong Sau. However, I feel much more natural when using the mantra So Hum. Could you tell me what the difference between them is, and if they will have different impacts on me, or my spiritual evolution?
A: Some practitioners are worried about the exact pronunciation of the Mantra, or even worried that doing it wrong might have a reverse, negative effect. But that is not true for this particular mediation. So Hum, Hong Sau, Ham Sa, and similar Mantras all produce the same result.
Q: Rather than use the Mantra Hong Sau, I would like to do this exercise while mentally chanting "Divine Love". Can I do that?
A: You can embrace a personal technique as described above, but it is an entirely different technique, not the same as practicing the Hong Sau technique. The goal of Hong Sau meditation technique is to reach a profound state of mental concentration, one that is WITHOUT WORDS. So, meditating on actual words or an actual concept makes it very difficult to overcome the chains of thought triggered by words.
This discussion of Hong-Sau Kriya is concluded with the poem "Love", by John Lennon.
Love is real,
real is love
Love is feeling,
Love is wanting to be loved
Love is touch,
touch is love
Love is reaching,
Love is asking to be loved
Love is you
You and me
Love is knowing
we can be
Love is free,
free is love
Love is living,
Love is needing to be loved ...