How many times do we breath in and out everyday? A lot! Too many times to count. Or is it? And what would be the purpose?
For many people who practice meditation, using the breath as a mantra of sorts, helps to connect them to something much deeper. A way to calm oneself, the breath has been used for centuries as a pathway to the Divine.
Martin Bohm in his Suite 101 article on meditation explores a meditation practice called Soham. The Sanskrit to English translation means “So I Am”. The Soham meditation combines both a mantra and the breath. With each inhalation a person thinks “So”. With each exhalation a person focuses on “Ham”. While people can find it challenging not to concentrate too heavily on the words, in time even the words and their meanings (to the ego) fall away.
According to Bohm, this meditation practice helps to connect a person to the realization that we are all sharing the same air and that the “I Am” exists within each one of us.
Like all meditation techniques, the Soham meditation is ideally practiced in an upright position with an alert but relaxed mind. In addition to sitting meditation, it can also be practiced while walking, driving and even while lying down, for example before falling asleep. Accompanying the breath with the mantra tends to calm and deepen the breath which in turn calms and clears the mind. In some ways, Soham meditation can be regarded as a combination of mantra meditation and mindful breathing, combining the benefits of both methods.
Read more about the Soham meditation practice here.