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12 May, 2012

Ajapa japa Meditation Techniques


       Ajapa japa can be practised in any meditational posture, or if it this not possible the preliminary methods can be practised while lying in shavasana.  The best time for ajapa japa practice is early morning between 4 and 6 a.m. or at night just before sleep.  Ajapa japa can be practised with or without a mala or rosary.

       There are many different stages in ajapa japa and the techniques for each stage progressively require a little more concentration and awareness.  Anyone wishing to practise ajapa japa should commence with stage one of preliminary ajapa japa and progressively work through and perfect each stage.  Little can be gained by randomly selecting any technique for practice.  It is also advisable to be acquainted with the practices of japa before proceeding to ajapa japa.

Preliminary ajapa japa - frontal passage rotation

       When practising preliminary ajapa japa the practitioner should try to feel the prana flowing in the fronal psychic passage between the navel and throat.  A little imagination may be necessary in the early stages.  You can imagine that the psychic passage is like a glass tube filed with water.  As you inhale, the water level rises from the navel to the throat and as you exhale, the water level drops back to the navel, or you can imagine that when you inhale, the breath comes from the navel and return to it when you exhale.

Stage 1:  Awareness of frontal passage and Soham

Feel the breath moving through the frontal psychic passage between the navel and throat.  Do not let one breath pass without your awareness.  Continue for a few minutes.

Now mentally synchronize the mantra Soham with the breath.  So sounds during inhalation and the rising of the prana in the psychic passage.  Ham sounds during exhalation and the descending of the prana in the psychic passage.

Continue in this way with total awareness of both the movement of prana and the mantra.

Practice this stage for a week or so, then go on to stage 2.

Stage 2:  Rotation of Hamso

The method is the same as stage one, but reverse the sequence of the mantra with the breath.  Each breath will start with exhalation on the mantra Ham followed by So on inhalation.  The mantra will now be Hamso.  After each Hamso pause briefly.

Practise this daily for a week or so, then proceed to stage 3.

Stage 3:  Rotation of Soham-Hamso

Merge the mantra So with the ingoing breath and Ham with the outgoing breath.  Thus, there is an endless circle of Soham-Soham-Soham.  Prolong the vibrations of Ham and join them with the ingoing vibrations of So.  Prolong the vibrations of So and join them with those of Ham.  Continuous repetition of Soham and Hamso without any intermission.

Practice this daily for a week or so, then proceed to stage 4.

Stage 4:  Spontaneous alternation of Soham-Hamso

In this stage,  you practise the techniques of stages one, two and three in a spontaneous alternation.

First be aware of he breath forming the cycle of Soham.
Practice this for a few minutes and then let your awareness shift to the continuation of Hamso.  After sometime, you will find that So and Ham have become connected on both ends.

Keep breathing with a continuous cycle of a Soham-Soham-Soham.

After some time you may spontaneously feel a change take place to Soham or Hamso.  Let it follow on its own course, spontaneously.  Be only a witness as your awareness shifts between the three mantras of is own accord.

Practice this daily for at least five days before proceeding to stage 5.

Stage 5:  With ujjayi and khechari

This stage involves the techniques of stages 1 to 4, but they are practised with ujjayi pranayama and khechar mudra.  After you have fully mastered this technique in all stages, go on to the intermediate practice of ajapa japa.

Ujjayi pranayama and khechari mudra

       Ujjayi pranayama helps induce a meditative state.  It is practised by contracting the glottis.  When performed correctly, a soft sound is produced like a cat purring or like light, gentle snoring.  One should feel he is breathing through he throat rather than the nose.  When a healthy child sleep, he always breathes by contracting his glottis and his breath can be heard in the throat.

       Khechari mudra is practised by rolling he tongue backwards so that the normal lower surface touches the upper palate.  Try to bring the tip back as far as possible.  If khechari mudra is practised correctly, in conjunction with ujjayi over a long period of time, the tongue will eventually go into the upper nasal orifice.


Source: Excerpts from the Book on Sure Ways to Self-Realization' by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.

Ajapa Japa Meditation practice


       Ajapa japa is an important meditation practice by which we can plough our psyche, making it fertile and receptive.  Another name of ajapa japa is 'spontaneous awareness'.  Its translation is 'to see, to look within, to watch, to observe'.

       Japa is the constant repetition of a mantra.  Japa becomes ajapa (spontaneous) japa when the mantra automatically repeats itself without conscious effort.  It is said that ajapa japa comes from the heart, whereas japa comes from the mouth.

       Ajapa japa is particularly recommended for rajasic people with tension and problems.  The practices will help to divert one's attention from worries to higher spiritual ideals.  People who do a lot of study and mental work will benefit greatly from ajapa japa.  It provides a balance between mental and physical activity.  Whereas, study and mental work introvert the mind, ajapa japa requires one to be aware of his mental activities, while maintaining awareness of the movement of the breath and repetition of the mantra.  As well as these purely mental and physical activities, the practitioner begins to explore the more subtle regions of the psychic body - the psychic centres (chakras) and psychic passages.

       Ajapa japa is also a good practice for those people who have reasonable control over the mind and for those who want to develop greater concentration.  Ajapa japa is a combination of pranayama and meditation and it is said that through pranayama you enter the land of meditation.

Breath Awareness

       The first thing one must be aware of in ajapa japa is one's own natural breath.  You breathe 15 times per minute, 900 times per hour and 21,600 times in 24 hours, but you are never aware of this most vital process which is the key to life.  During practice of ajapa japa, the practitioners should watch the changing dimensions of breath.  Throughout meditation there are likely to be four dimensions of breath; natural, deeper than natural, relaxed and suspended.

       The second and most important point in ajapa japa is awareness of the movement of breath as it flows through the body.  This can be practised in many ways, but the most important is awareness of the breath in the spinal cord.  When the breath has assumed the relaxed third dimension it becomes ujjayi pranayama (psychic breathing) long, deep and soft, like the gentle snoring of a baby.  This relaxed breath is rotated up and down the spinal cord.

       In the preliminary practices of ajapa japa, the practitioner watches the breath flow through the frontal psychic passage between the navel and throat.  In the intermediate practices the breath is felt flowing through sushumna nadi and the practitioner feels the prana passing through each chakra from mooladhara to ajna and back down to mooladhara.  Advancd ajapa japa is similar to intermediate, with the breath becoming longer and slower, and the psychic passage extends all the way from mooladhara to sahasra chakra.


     The third point in ajapa japa is the sound or mantra.  In the physical and psychic body there is a sound.  Some hear it as Soham or Om, others hear it as a different mantra.  Actually, any mantra can be used for the practice of ajapa japa although traditionally the mantra Soham is utilized since it correspond with the natural sound of inhalation and exhalation.  The mantra should be integrated with the breath.  When you inhale, the breath spontaneously makes the sound of So and when you exhale it makes the sound of Ham.  The most important thing is that the breath and the mantra should become one.  While you are inhaling through sushumna from mooladhara to ajna and exhaling from ajna to mooladhara, be aware of the movement of the breath combined with the movement of the powerful sound -- Soham.  This practice purifies the nadis, the pranic channels in the body.

       When mantra is awakened in the breath the whole body is recharged.  Psychic toxins are eliminated and blocks in the nadis, which are the main source of physical and mental disturbances, are removed.  The mantra should awaken sushmna nadi and permeate each and every particle of the body.  When sushumna nadi begins to vibrate, self-awareness becomes active.  When ida nadi starts vibrating, the mind becomes active.  When pingala nadi starts vibrating the prana becomes active and energy flows through one's whole system, extending even outside the physical body.

       When the awakening of sushumna nadi takes place with the help of mantra shakti, the elimination of karma takes place symbolically.  This results in the arising of inner sounds and fantastic experiences.  Whatever you experience is rising from your deeper consciousness.  It is mental shankhalprakshalana, part of the purging process.

       Ajapa japa is the basis for kriya yoga.  With its mastery pratyahara is achieved and the real practice of dharana begins.  When ajapa japa is perfected and fully realized, the samskaras are totally exhausted and the mind becomes one-pointed.  In this way dhyana yoga blossom forth.

Source: Excerpts from the Book on Sure Ways to Self-Realization' by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.