A mantra is a meditation technique that helps you to take your mind to quieter, calmer levels of thinking. Mantras are often referred to as vehicles for the mind because with focus on the repetition of a mantra, other thoughts swimming in the mind dissipate and the mind shifts toward mental clarity and stillness.
The So Hum mantra has a special meaning in Vedic philosophy and is often the mantra given to those new to the practices of yoga and meditation.
The Meaning of So Hum
So Hum is a phrase comprised of two Sanskrit words. The literal translations are:
- So: “That”
- Hum: “I”
Therefore, the translation of So Hum is “I Am That.” Many Vedic scholars have interpreted the “That” in the mantra to represent the Universe, and it is now widely understood that the So Hum mantra symbolizes the fact that we are all connected to the universal energy that is constantly supporting and nourishing us in the ways we need and desire. It falls into the same concept as “oneness,” or “I am one with the Universe and all of creation.”
The idea of being one with the Universe and constantly supported, offers feelings of safety, protection, and unconditional support. When you’re seeking support, love, or protection, the So Hum mantra may be a great fit for your meditation.
The Double Nature of Meanings in Mantra
In some techniques and organizations, such as Transcendental meditation or Primordial Sound Meditation, mantras are personalized, meaning that each individual is assigned a mantra based on a variety of facts—whether it’s the birth date, birth time, location of birth, birth year, or other tidbits about someone’s life. These can be helpful for people to connect with their mantra on a more personal level.
Another benefit of having a personal mantra is that they come without a meaning because they are not actually words, but rather they are sounds from the Universe. The meaning behind meditation mantras can often distract from the act of quieting the mind. If the mind gets fixed on a literal meaning, it gets active; whereas if the mind is focused on the sounds of a mantra without meaning or association, it can more easily find a quiet state. So for some, the meaning of any particular mantra isn’t really important or relevant to the actual act of meditation.
But everyone’s different — some people find the powerful significance behind a particular mantra actually inspires and encourages them toward a more powerful meditation. Others find it helpful to simply focus on sounds.
The important thing to remember is that one method is not better than another; you’ll just have to explore and find out what suits you best. Know that you don’t need to go through any fancy meditation program to begin meditating with a powerful mantra. The So Hum mantra is a great place to start.
So while the meaning behind So Hum is really beautiful and significant, there’s no need to get caught up in it. The real impact is in what the practice can do for you.
The Benefits of a Mantra
The benefits of mantra meditation are the same as the benefits of any other type of meditation technique. A mantra is simply used as the anchor to help settle and focus your mind.
If you build a consistent practice, you can enjoy a wide array of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits. Here are a few posts outlining some benefits of meditation:
- The physical health benefits of a regular meditation practice
- 4 superpowers you can gain from meditation
- 10 Benefits of Meditation for Type As and Overachievers
- How meditation can transform your morning
Simple So Hum Meditation Practice
This meditation can be done in whatever amount of time is available to you. I recommend setting a time for 10 minutes, but even if you have less than five, use whatever time you have. Take a comfortable, upright seat. Check out this post for options on how to sit for meditation.
- Close your eyes and take one full minute to settle in by taking a few deep, cleansing breaths. Take notice of how you feel in your mind and body.
- Start to repeat the mantra So Hum to yourself silently, slowly synching the rhythm of your breath to the mantra.
- As you inhale, silently repeat the word “So“
- As you exhale, silently repeat the word “Hum“
- Continue breathing slowly and aligning your mantra to your breath, being careful not to rush your breath if you notice your mantra speeding up.
- Each time you notice your mind wander, simply draw your attention back to your silent mantra and aligning the pace of your mantra to the pace of your breath.
When your timer goes off, gently release your mantra and bring your attention back to your breath. Take a moment to sit quietly for a minute or two before opening your eyes.
Use this quiet time before opening your eyes to consider the meaning behind So Hum. Reflect on the concept that with every breath you take, you are connecting to all living beings in the Universe taking in the very same expansive energy — and in that space, you are merging into one and the same, constantly and continuously supporting one another and the world around you.
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