So Hum: Contemplation Meditation


By Shiva Rea  |  

The yogic mantra “so hum” is not only a reflection of the sound of the breath but also carries a contemplative meaning: “I am that” (so = “I am” and hum = “that”). Here, “that” refers to all of creation, the one breathing us all. This contemplation meditation is an opportunity to focus “thinking mind” on the mystery of being and to reflect upon the interdependent nature of all phenomenon revealed by the sages and confirmed by contemporary physics.

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, silently say “so” to yourself and as you exhale, say “hum.” Once the “so hum” rhythm has been established, begin to contemplate the meaning of “so hum.” As you inhale with the mantra “so,” say to yourself ” I am,” connecting to your essential self. Contemplate the source of your breath: Where is your breath coming from? Through visualization, contemplate the 5 billion human beings and countless creatures on Earth being fed by the same tidal rhythm of the breath.

As you exhale with “hum,” inwardly say “that” or “all that is.” Feel how your exhalation releases you into the expanse around you. Visualize your exhalation leaving your body through your nostrils and then merging back into the atmosphere, back into infinity, back into “all that is.” Stay with this contemplation until you naturally begin to settle into a state of unified consciousness (which may only be for a few brief, refreshing moments at a time). If a thought (vritti) arises, come back to the simple mantra, “so hum.”

In the beginning, it may be helpful to set an external timer for 10, 20, or 30 minutes so you are not distracted. When you are finished, bring your hands together in anjali mudra (prayer position) and close with a moment of gratitude, reflection, or prayer to soak up the energy of your meditation into your being and life.