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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.

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