Class transcription of Swami Amritananda Saraswati given at the First Pan Hellenic Yoga Convention in Thessalonika, Greece on 7.4.81.
Preparation for the practice
We are going to practise ajapa japa.
- Be seated in any comfortable meditation posture. If you can sit in padmasana or siddhasana it is better, otherwise use one of the easy poses such as sukhasana or vajrasana.
- Place your palms on the knees.
- Close your eyes and your mouth.
- Make your head, spine and back straight.
- Do not open the eyes unless I ask you to.
- The palms should remain on the knees.
- Don't strain your head; keep it straight as if you were looking in the mirror, at the eyebrow centre.
- Remain with eyes closed and follow the instructions.
- First of all breathe in deeply from the navel and exhale with the sound of Om.
- Try not to move your physical body. The head, spine and back must remain straight, but without tensing.
Breath awareness between navel and throat
- Visualize the psychic passage between the navel and the throat.
- Focus your consciousness on the process of your natural breath, ascending from the navel up to the throat on inhalation and descending from the throat down to the navel on exhalation. Try to breathe soundlessly, with complete control, not with force. Breathe in and out comfortably.
- Do not make the breath so long that your body starts jerking or shaking.
- You should be sure that you are breathing deeper, longer and milder than the natural breath.
- Remain aware of the process of the breath going from the navel up to the throat and from the throat down to the navel.
Constant ascending and descending breath.
- Slowly, deeply, mildly and soundlessly.
- Then gradually again reduce the speed of the breath; make it a little bit softer and bring it back to normal.
- Each time make it a little shorter until it becomes normal.
- Previously, you have been breathing with effort; now change the breathing process so that you breathe effortlessly.
- At the same time remain conscious that your spine does not bend.
- Your head should not lean, either to the right or left, either forwards or backwards.
- You are not unconscious, you are aware that you are preparing to practise ajapa japa.
- 'Now, contracting the throat muscles slightly, breathe in ujjayi pranayama.
- Inhalation is from the navel up to the throat, with the contraction of the throat muscles. When exhaling, relax and release them. This contraction and releasing of the throat makes a sound.
- Do not try to control it.
- The sound comes from the throat, not from the nostrils. The breath should become slower and longer than natural, but do not make it too long or too slow.
- Breathe in and out in ujjayi.
- As you breathe in, make the throat small and narrow, and as you breathe out release the throat.
- Though the breath is through the nostrils, the process of the breath seems to be from the navel up to the throat and from the throat down to the navel.
- Remain aware of this process.
- Your consciousness is ascending from the navel up to the throat and descending from the throat down to the navel.
Mantra repetition with the breath
- If you cannot concentrate on the breath alone, then you can use the mantra with it, to occupy another sphere of your consciousness.
- With one level of your consciousness, you are aware that you are breathing upwards in ujjayi, and with another level of consciousness you repeat the mantra mentally, in coordination with your inhalation and exhalation.
- So the three spheres of your gross consciousness are occupied with ujjayi breathing, awareness of ujjayi, and using the mantra with the ascending and descending breath.
- For the practice of ajapa japa you should use either the general mantra Soham, your personal mantra given by the guru, a mantra given by a saint or superior soul, or the mantra of your choice which you like the most.
- The best mantra to use is the guru mantra. If you don't have a personal mantra, use Soham. Say the mantra mentally with each ascending and descending breath. Please try not to move the body. Remain aware of ujjayi and the space between the navel and the throat.
- Repeat the mantra mentally with the breath. While ascending from the navel up to the throat, say the mantra So. While descending from the throat down to the navel, say the mantra Ham. Likewise, you may use your guru mantra. If you use the mantra Om Namah Shivaya, while ascending from the navel up to the throat, mentally repeat Om Namah Shivaya.
- While descending from the throat down to the navel, mentally repeat Om Namah Shivaya. Or you may use the mantra Om Satyam from the navel to the throat and again Om Satyam from the throat back down to the navel. Likewise you may use whatever mantra you have. If you don't have a personal mantra, repeat the mantra Soham with the ujjayi breath.
Spontaneous mantra repetition
- Now release ujjayi, breathe normally and if the mantra continues to repeat itself, be aware of it, but do not make any effort to repeat it. If it is being repeated spontaneously, without your doing, that's very good. Let it continue, but you should not make any effort to repeat it.
Awareness of chidakasha
- Try to become aware of the space in front of your closed eyes, the space of your consciousness, the chidakasha.
'Chid' means consciousness and 'akasha' means space. The space of consciousness is chidakasha. In this chidakasha, whatever is happening, just witness it, become aware of it.
- Whether the image of your guru or God, a pencil, tree, plant or animal appears, see it without judging, without deciding whether it is beautiful or ugly, pleasant or unpleasant, wrong or right, good or bad.
- Just let it come and be aware of it.
- Know what is coming in front of you.
- Then choose one thing to focus your awareness on in front of your eyebrows.
- Choose anything you can see comfortably, whether the image of your guru or your God.
- You shouldn't have to try too hard to bring it into your vision.
- Keep gazing at one object and try to see it with the closed eyes as clearly as if it were in front of you.
- Make it as clear as if it were real.
Ending the practice
- Now get ready to end the practice.
- Become aware of your whole body, your emotional feelings, your mind, this environment, this whole room, you and me, the guide and the subject being guided.
- Become aware of everything around you.
- You may open your eyes and move your body.