There are many ways in which to practice meditation. Some like to focus on the breath, while others use sounds, words, and phrases to focus the mind and partake in the benefits of meditation. The key to any meditation practice, however, is finding the practice that works for you.
Well-known meditation and yoga instructor Shiva Rea offers insight into mantra meditation in this recent Yoga Journal post. According to Rea, mantra is a combination of two words that when put together mean a tool for reflection or the cultivation of awareness. In the article, Rea offers direction on how to practice a mantra meditation using the mantra, “so hum”, which means “I am that.”
Find a comfortable posture for meditation (seated on a cushion or blanket, in a chair or against a wall). Place your palms facing up in jnana mudra (forefinger and thumb touching) with your palms facing up to open your awareness or facing down to calm the mind. Scan your body and relax any tension. Let your spine rise from the ground of the pelvis. Draw your chin slightly down and let the back of your neck lengthen.
Bring your attention to the tidal rhythm of your breath, feeling the rise and fall of your inhalation and exhalation. As your focus settles on your breath, begin to employ the simple mantra “so hum.” As you inhale, say “so” silently to yourself, and as you exhale say “hum.” Keep your focus on the sensation of your breath while silently repeating the sacred syllables, “so hum.” As you drink your inhalation, gently drawing your breath along the base of your throat, listen for the sound of “so.” As you exhale, listen for the sound of “hum” as your breath is amplified in the throat.
Let your mind become absorbed in the sound of so hum-in your internal chanting and your actual breath. As if you were watching the waves of the ocean, let your mind be naturally drawn into presence and stillness—no place to go, nothing to do, so hum, so hum. If a thought (vritti) arises, come back to the mantra so hum.
Read more from Rea on the practice of mantra meditation here.