Practice of Ajapa Meditation

Upanishads, Tantras and Yoga texts all laud Ajapa Sadhana as is clear from the following verses of Yoga Chudamani Upanishad:

हकारेण बहिर्याती सकारेण विशेत्पुनः ।
हंसहंसेत्यमुं मंत्रम जीवो जपदि सर्वदा ॥
षटशतानि दिवारात्रौ सहस्त्राण्येकविंशतिः ।
एतात्संख्यांवितं मंत्रम जीवो जपति सर्वदा ॥
अजपानाम गायत्री योगिनां मोक्षदा सदा ।
अस्याः संकल्पमात्रेण सर्वपापैः प्रमुच्यते ॥
अनया सदृशी विद्या अनया सदृशो जपः ।
अनया सदृशं ज्ञानं न भूतं न भविष्यति ॥

By the sound of Ha breath goes out and by the sound of Sa it comes in. This HamSa manta is always recited by living beings. In one day and night living being recites this mantra for twenty one thousand and six hundred times. This gayatri known as Ajapa bestows liberation on Yogis. By mere intention of chanting this mantra all sins are destroyed. No learning higher than Ajapa, no japa higher than Ajapa, no knowledge higher than Ajapa ever existed in the past nor will exist in the future.

Breath goes out with the sound of Ha and comes in with sound Sa. If we combine these two letters in the form of exhalation and inhalation it becomes HamSah mantra. If we combine them as inhalation and then exhalation it becomes SoHam mantra. Both of these mantras have the same meaning. The Sanskrit word SoHam is combination Sah + Aham . Sah means 'That' and Aham means 'I'. Here, 'I' means Jiva or individual soul and Sah means Shiva or Supreme Soul. Thus the mantra HamSah underlines the fact that 'Jiva is Shiva'. We all recite this mantra with every breathe but a Yogi alone knows its true significance. SoHam mantra is called as Ajapa because it need not be recited willfully. Japa is deliberate recitation of a mantra and Ajapa means the one who is not Japa i.e. spontaneous or natural recitation. God has made provision so that we all chant it spontaneously for 21,600 in a day and night. Ajapa is also called as Gayatr which means the energy that protects  the vital life energy.

Now let's see how Ajapa Dhyana is performed.

  • Place a four folded woolen blanket or mat at the place where you intend to sit for meditation. As far as possible you should use the same place everyday for your practice.
  • Sit on your meditation seat facing north or east. There is no rigid guideline about the posture to be assumed. You can use Padmasana, Siddhasana, Swatikasana or Sukhasana. If you cannot sit in any of these postures you can use chair. Your posture should be such that spinal column, chest and head are in one straight line.
  • Close your eyes and surrender yourself to God.
  • Now chant OM three times. Feel unwanted thoughts pushed aside. Feel the vibrations of OM surrounding you and protecting you.
  • Inhale deeply from your nose so that lungs are filled completely and then exhale through your mouth. Ensure that all air is being taken out. Repeat this for 4 to 6 times.
  • Now focus your awareness on your breathing. Observe every incoming and outgoing current of air. Be aware of the breathing that otherwise happens spontaneously.
  • When you breathe in feel mental sound So and when you breathe out feel mental sound Ham.
  • Recite this SoHam mantra with each breath. Keep in mind that you are not interfering in the natural breathing process. You are just watching it. Continue this for prescribed time.
  • Do not leave your seat immediately after completing the practice. Be seated and enjoy the peace, happiness and relaxation generated because of your practice.
  • Again bow down to God and end the session.

To make your breath awareness stronger you may visualize that large number of light particles are entering your nostrils with every inhalation and leaving you with each exhalation. In the beginning let your awareness revolve around breathing process alone. When your practice matures you can shift the center of awareness to heart or eye brow center. Once chosen the center of awareness should not be changed frequently. To make the awareness of the chosen center you can visualize OM or Flame or image of your deity at that point.

You should allot time duration for Ajapa Dhyana as per your daily schedule. Someone will give 5 minutes or someone will devote 1 hour. More the better holds true for Ajapa also. As a general guideline it can be said that one should give at least 20 minutes anytime of the day for Ajapa Dhyana. Those who can make it can practice it twice a day. On holidays devote more time whenever possible.

Bipin Joshi is an independent software consultant and trainer by profession specializing in Microsoft web development technologies. Having embraced the Yoga way of life he is also a yoga mentor, meditation teacher, and spiritual guide to his students. He is a prolific author and writes regularly about software development and yoga on his websites. He is programming, meditating, writing, and teaching for over 27 years. To read more about him go here. More details about his Kriya and Meditation online course are available here.

Posted On : 02 May 2010