Beginning a meditation Practice


  • The real meditation is how you live your life.
  • In order to live life fully, you have to be present for it.
  • To be present, it helps to purposefully bring awareness to your moments – otherwise you may miss many of them.
  • You do that by paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to whatever is arising inwardly and outwardly.
  • This requires a great deal of kindness toward yourself, which you deserve.
  • It helps to keep in mind that good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, the present moment is the only time any of us are alive. Therefore, it's the only time to learn, grow, see what is really going on, find some degree of balance, feel and express emotions such as love and appreciation, and do what we need to do to take care of ourselves – in other words, embody our intrinsic strength and beauty and wisdom – even in the face of pain and suffering.
  • So a gentle love affair with the present moment is important.
  • We do that through learning to rest in awareness of what is happening inwardly and outwardly moment by moment by moment – it is more a “being” than a “doing.”
  • Formal and informal meditation practices are specific ways in which you can ground, deepen, and accelerate this process, so it is useful to carve out some time for formal practice on a regular daily basis – maybe waking up fifteen or twenty minutes earlier than you ordinarily would to catch some time for ourselves.
  • We bring awareness to our moments only as best we can.
  • We are not trying to create a special feeling or experience – simply to realize that this moment is already very special – because you are alive and awake in it.
  • This is hard, but well worth it
  • It takes a lot of practice.
  • Lots of practice
  • But you have a lot of moments – and we can treat each one as a new beginning.
  • So there are always new moments to open up to if we miss some.
  • We do all this with a huge amount of self-compassion.
  • And remember, you are not your thoughts or opinions, your likes or dislikes. They are more like weather patterns in your mind that you can be aware of – like clouds moving across the sky, – and so don’t have to be imprisoned by.
  • Befriending yourself in this way is the adventure of a lifetime, and hugely empowering.
  • Try it for a few weeks – it grows on you.

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sitting meditation

By Jon Kabat-Zinn

We call the heart of the formal meditation practice “sitting meditation” or simply “sitting.” As with breathing, sitting is not foreign to anyone. We all sit, nothing special about that. But mindful sitting is different from ordinary sitting in the same way that mindful breathing is different from ordinary breathing.  The difference, of course, is your awareness.

To practice sitting, we make a special time and place for non-doing. We consciously adopt an alert and relaxed body posture so that we can feel relatively comfortable without moving, and then we reside with calm acceptance in the present without trying to fill it with anything. You have already tried this in the various exercises in which you have watched your breathing.

It helps a lot to adopt an erect and dignified posture, with your head, neck, and back aligned vertically. This allows the breath to flow most easily.  It is also the physical counterpart of the inner attitudes of self-reliance, self-acceptance, and alert attention that we are cultivating.

We usually practice the sitting meditation either on a chair or on the floor. If you choose a chair, the ideal is to use one that has a straight back and that allows your feet to be flat on the floor. We often recommend that if possible you sit away from the back of the chair so that you spine is self-supporting (see Figure A).  But if you have to, leaning against the back of the chair is also fine. If you choose to sit on the floor, do so on firm, thick cushion which raises your buttocks off the floor three to six inches (a pillow folded over once or twice does nicely; or you can purchase a meditation cushion, or zafu, specifically for sitting).

There are a number of cross-legged sitting postures and kneeling postures that some people use when they sit on the floor. The one I use most is the so-called “Burmese” posture (see Figure B), which involves drawing one heel in close to the body and draping the other leg in front of it.  Depending on how flexible your hips and knees and ankles are, your knees may or may not be touching the floor.  It is somewhat more comfortable when they are.  Others use a kneeling posture, placing the cushion between the feet.  

Whether you choose the floor or a chair, posture is very important in meditation practice.  It can be an outward support in cultivating an inner attitude of dignity, patience, and self- acceptance.  The main points to keep in mind about your posture are to try to keep the back, neck, and head aligned in the vertical, to relax the shoulders, and to do something comfortable with your hands.  Usually we place them on the knees  or we rest them in the lap with the fingers of the left hand above the fingers of the right and the tips of the thumbs just touching each other.

When we have assumed the posture we have selected, we bring our attention to our breathing. We feel it come in, we feel it go out. We dwell in the present, moment by moment, breath by breath.  It sounds simple, and it is. Full awareness on the inbreath, full awareness on the outbreath. Letting the breath just happen, observing it, feeling all the sensations, gross and subtle, associated with it.

It is simple but it is not easy.  You can probably sit in front of a TV set or in a car on a trip for hours without giving it a thought. But when you try sitting in your house with nothing to watch but your breath, your body and your mind, with nothing to entertain you and no place to go, the first thing you will probably notice is that at least part of you doesn’t want to stay at this for very long. After perhaps a minute or two or three or four, either the body or the mind will have had enough and will demand something else, either to shift to some other posture or to do something else entirely. This is inevitable.

It is at this point that the work of self-observation gets particularly interesting and fruitful. Normally every time the mind moves, the body follows.  If the mind is restless, the body is restless.  If the mind wants a drink, the body goes to the kitchen sink or the refrigerator.  If the mind says, “This is boring,” then before you know it, the body is up and looking around for the next thing to do to keep the mind happy. It also works the other way around.  If the body feels the slightest discomfort, it will shift to be more comfortable or it will call on the mind to find something else for it to do, and again, you will be standing up literally before you know it.

If you are genuinely committed to being more peaceful and relaxed, you might wonder why it is that your mind is so quick to be bored with being with itself and why your body is so restless and uncomfortable. You might wonder what is behind your impulses to fill each moment with something; what is behind your need to be entertained whenever you have an “empty” moment, to jump up and get going, to get back to doing and being busy? What drives the body and mind to reject being still?

In practicing meditation we don’t try to answer such questions.  Rather we just observe the impulse to get up or the thoughts that come into the mind. And instead of jumping up and doing whatever the mind decides is next on the agenda, we gently but firmly bring our attention back to the belly and to the breathing and just continue to watch the breath, moment by moment. We may ponder why the mind is like this for a moment or two, but basically we are practicing accepting each moment as it is without reacting to how it is.

By doing so you are training your mind to be less reactive and more stable.  You are making each moment count.  You are taking each moment as it comes, not valuing any one above any other.  In this way you are cultivating your natural ability to concentrate your mind. By repeatedly bringing your attention back to the breath each time it wanders off, concentration builds and deepens, much as muscles develop by repetitively lifting weights.  Working regularly with (not struggling against) the resistance of your own mind builds inner strength. At the same time you are also developing patience and practicing being non-judgmental.  You are not giving yourself a hard time because your mind left the breath. You simply and matter-of-factly return it to the breath, gently but firmly.

Meditation does not involve pushing thoughts away or walling yourself off from them to quiet your mind. We are not trying to stop our thoughts as they cascade through the mind. We are simply making room for them, observing them as thoughts, and letting them be, using the breath as our anchor or “home base” for observing, for reminding us to stay focused and calm.

© 1990 Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living 


Walking meditation

By Jack Cornfield-A Path with Heart

Like breathing meditation, walking meditation is a simple and universal practice for developing calm, connectedness and awareness. It can be practiced regularly, before or after sitting meditation or any time on its own, such as after a busy day at work or on a lazy Sunday morning. The art of walking meditation is to learn to be aware as you walk, to use the natural movement of walking to cultivate mindfulness and wakeful presence

Select a quiet place where you can walk comfortable back and forth, indoors or out, about ten to thirty paces in length. Begin by standing at one end of this “walking path” with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Let your hands rest easily, wherever they are comfortable. Close your eyes for a moment, center yourself and feel your body standing on the earth. Feel the pressure on the bottoms of your feet and the other natural sensations of standing. Then open your eyes and let yourself be present and alert.

Begin to walk slowly. Let yourself walk with a sense of ease and dignity. Pay attention to your body. With each step, feel the sensations of lifting your foot and leg off the earth. Be aware as you place each foot on the earth. Relax and let your walking be easy and natural. Feel each step mindfully as you walk. When you reach the end of your path, pause for a moment. Center yourself, carefully turn around, pause again so that you can be aware of the first step as you walk back. You can experiment with the speed, walking at whatever pace keeps you most present.

Continue to walk back and forth for ten or twenty minutes or longer. As with the breath in sitting, your mind will wander away many, many times. As soon as you notice this, acknowledge where it went softly: “wandering,” “thinking,” “hearing, “planning.” Then, return to feel the next step. Like training the puppy, you will need to come back a thousand times. Whether you have been away for one second or for ten minutes, simple acknowledge where you have been and then come back to being alive here and now with the next step you take.

After some practice with walking meditation, you will learn to use it to calm and collect yourself and to live more wakefully in your body. You can then extend your walking practice to an informal way when you go shopping, whenever you walk down the street or walk to from your car. You can learn to enjoy walking for its own sake instead of the usual planning and thinking and, in this simple way, begin to be truly present, to bring your body, heart and mind together as you move through your life. 




A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in April confirmed that yoga and a form of meditation known as Kirtan Kriya improved brain functioning by increasing connectivity, improving memory, and decreasing mood aberration.  


Over the course of twelve weeks adults - age fifty-five+, who reported mild anxiety about their memory and showed some mild cognitive impairment - focused on improving brain function. For one hour a week, one group of fourteen attended a Kundalini yoga class, a beginner-level form of yoga focused on breathing exercises and meditation. 

For fifteen minutes each day, they practiced a form of meditation known as Kirtan Kriya, the repeating of sounds combined with repetitive hand movements. The “brain game” group of eleven attended an hour a week of classroom instruction in a well established brain-training program and spent fifteen minutes a day performing a series of mental exercises designed to bolster their brain functioning.

Both groups showed improved communication in the regions of the brain involved in memory and language, but those who practiced yoga also showed more activity in the regions involved in the brain’s ability to focus and to multitask. The yoga group showed a statistically significant improvement in mood and visuospatial memory performance, reflecting increased connectivity and improved verbal memory.

The Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation in Tucson, Arizona, has been studying the effects yoga meditation has on the brain and discovered (confirmed, really) that a certain form of yoga meditation, known as Kirtan Kriya, can have immediate, long-term positive benefits for the brain. Practicing this simple twelve-minute yoga meditation has been shown to bring about the following benefits:

  • Improve cerebral blood flow (help you think better).
  • Improve blood flow to the posterior cingulated gyrus (improve memory retrieval).
  • Increase activity in the frontal lobe (sharpen attention, concentration, and focus).
  • Replenish vital neurotransmitters and brain chemicals, such as acetylcholine,
    norepinephrine, and dopamine (which help the brain function more smoothly).
  • Increase energy levels, improve sleep quality, reduce stress (lower cortisol levels).
  • Improve both short- and long-term psychological health and spiritual well being.
  • Kirtan Kriya is an ancient yoga practice that involves the combination of focused breath work, singing or chanting (and whispering), finger movements (called “mudras”), and visualization. To perform it properly, you use or activate all of your senses, awakening your brain and rejuvenating your energy.

How Does Kirtan Kriya Work?
According to yogi practitioners, Kirtan Kriya meditation stimulates all of your senses and the areas of the brain associated with them. The use of the tongue stimulates the eighty-four acupuncture meridian points on the roof of the mouth, sending a signal to the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and other areas of the brain. The dense nerve endings in the fingertips, lips, and tongue activate the motor and sensory areas of the brain. Using the fingertips to accompany the sounds activates the occipital lobe of the brain, which improves vision (as in “having a vision”) or clarity of purpose—short- and long-term. Like all meditation, this practice can have powerful and positive effects on brain function.

Instructions for Performing Kirtan Kriya
Variations exist, but here’s a simple meditation you can do at home:

  1. Begin by sitting comfortably with your feet flat on the floor (you can sit in a yoga pose with your legs crossed if you like). Straighten your spine above your hips; breathe naturally, close your eyes.
  2. Breathe in and out a few times, until your breath flows easily.
  3. Begin by softly chanting “Saa, Taa, Naa, Maa” (together these sounds represent your
    highest self or true identity). You can use the familiar children’s song, Mary Had a Little
    Lamb, using only the first four notes: Mar-y-had-a.
  4. Add the finger movements (known as mudras). With your arms lying loosely against
    your torso, raise both hands, palm up (you can rest your hands on your lap if you like),and, one-at-a-time, press and release each fingertip, in sequence, to your thumb. On “Saa,” touch the tip of your index finger to your thumb; on “Taa,” the tip of your middle finger, and so on.
  5. As you continue the chants, visualize energy coming down from above (from the universe, or spirit, if you like) into your head, proceeding down through your brain and then dropping and pausing at your “third eye” (considered the site of intuition, located just between your eyes) before beaming the energy out through your third eye (visualize a capital L, if that helps you keep the energy flowing down and through).
  6. Imagine the sound you are generating flowing through the same path.
  7. Begin by singing the sounds out loud for approximately two minutes (listening and feeling the resonance of the sound as you sing or chant); then sing softly for two minutes; “say” the sound softly to yourself for four minutes; whisper the sounds for two minutes; and then sing out loud again for two minutes. You can use a timer, if you like, but soon you’ll be able to gauge the length that works best for you.


When you’ve completed the exercise, inhale deeply, drawing air into your lungs, stretch your arms and hands above your head (gently stretch your spine), and then lower them down each side, in a sweeping motion, as you exhale.

Don’t be discouraged if it feels incredibly awkward at first. Over time, your coordination will dramatically improve, and you’ll likely find yourself looking forward to these meditation sessions as a way to start, or refresh, your mind, body, and spirit.


NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE - Written by Susan Reynolds, the author of Fire Up Your Writing Brain: How to Use Proven Neuroscience to Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Writer. She also coauthored Train Your Brain to Get Happy, and Train Your Brain to Get Rich

Edited by Amritari Martinez  





By David Shannahoff-Khalsa



  • Sit with a straight spine, either on the floor or in a chair. The backs of your hands are resting on your knees with the palms facing upward. The eyes are nine tenths closed (one tenth open, but looking straight ahead into the darkness at the third eye point, not the light below). Chant from your heart in a natural, relaxed manner or chant in a steady relaxed monotone. Chant out loud the sound “Sa” (the a sounds like “ah”), and touch your thumb tips and index finger tips together quickly and simultaneously with about 2 pounds of pressure. Then chant “Ta” and touch the thumb tips to the middle finger tips. Chant “Na” and touch the thumb tips to the ring finger tips, then chant “Ma” and touch the thumb tips to the little finger tips. Chant “Ra” and touch the thumb tips and index finger tips. Chant “Ma” and touch the thumb tips to the middle finger tips. Chant “Da” and touch the thumb tips to the ring finger tips. Chant “Sa” and touch the thumb tips to the little finger tips. Chant “Say” (sounds like the word say with a long a) and touch the thumb tips to the middle finger tips. Chant “So” and touch the thumb tips to the ring finger tips. Chant “Hung” and touch the thumb tips to the little finger tips.
  • Chant at a rate of one sound per second. The thumb tip and finger tips touch with a very light 2 to 3 pounds of pressure with each connection. This helps to consolidate the circuit created by each thumb-finger link. Start with 11 minutes and slowly work up to 31 minutes of practice. To finish, remain in the sitting posture and inhale, holding the breath for 20 to 30 seconds while you shake and move every part of your body with the hands and arms extended over your head. Exhale and repeat this inhale, hold, and shaking two more times to circulate the energy and to break the pattern of tapping, which affects the brain. Then immediately proceed with focusing the eyes on the tip of the nose (the end you cannot see) and breathe slowly and deeply for 1 minute.
  • The sounds used in this meditation are each unique, and they have a powerful effect on the mind, both the conscious and subconscious mind. The sound “Sa” gives the mind the ability to expand to the infinite. “Ta” gives the mind the ability to experience the totality of life. “Na” gives the mind the ability to conquer death. “Ma” gives the mind the ability to resurrect. “Ra” gives the mind the ability to expand in radiance (this sound purifies and energizes). “Da” gives the mind the ability to establish security on the earth plane, providing a ground for action. “Say” gives the totality of experience. “So” is the personal sense of identity, and “Hung” is the infinite as vibrating and real force. Together, “So Hung” means “I am Thou.” The unique qualities of this 12-syllable mantra help cleanse and restructure the subconscious mind and help heal the conscious mind to ultimately experience the superconscious mind. Thus, all the blocks that result from an extreme traumatic event are eliminated over time with the practice of Gan Puttee Kriya.


 This is a perfect meditation for people who are lost in their neurosis and psychosis and with their sense of self and identity-the condition that manifests when a person becomes delusional. This technique helps to establish a healthy state of mental stability and is most appropriate for the schizophrenic with a weakened identity who is questioning the deep self.)

Sit in chair or on floor with straight spine. Both arms are raised out to the sides and the elbows are bent at 90 degree angles so that the forearms are pointing straight up. (See figure p. 70) The hands face forward. The eyes are open and focused at the tip of the nose (the end point that you cannot see). The mantra “Humee Hum Brahm Hum” is chanted. The mantra is most effective when it is chanted to the rhythm in a CD (Humee Hum and Peace and Tranquility, Kaur, Nirinian). In rhythm with the mantra, touch the top of your head with the left hand while chanting “Humee hum” and blessing yourself. Then return to the original position while chanting “Brahn Hum.” The meditation is continued for 11 minutes. To end the technique, inhale through the nose, hold the breath, and tighten the spine, and also stiffen only the left hand. Pull the energy of the spine into the left hand. Then exhale and repeat the breath holding and tightening two more times, and then relax. In part, the intention with this technique is to also learn to become kind, humble, helpful, and compassionate.



  • Sit with a straight spine. Put the hands together at the center of the chest in prayer pose. The eyes are closed and focused at the third eye (imagine a sun rising on the horizon at the point between the eyebrows at the origin of the nose). Chant “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo” at least three times.
  • True Glue ( 1 minute relaxation between each exercise) 
  • Flex Spine with the arms extended straight up over the head with the hands facing forward and with the fingers spread wide for two minutes. Begin by pulling the chest up and slightly forward, inhaling deeply at the same time. Then exhale as you relax the spine down into a slouching position. Keep the head up straight, as if you were looking forward, without allowing it to move much with the flexing action of the spine. This will help prevent a whip action of the cervical vertebrae. All breathing should only be through the nose for both the inhalation and exhalation. The eyes are closed as if you were looking at a central point on the horizon, the third eye. Your mental focus is kept on the sound of the breath while listening to the fluid movement of the inhalation and exhalation. Begin the technique slowly while loosening up the spine. Eventually, a very rapid movement can be achieved with practice, reaching a rate of 1 to 2 times per second for the entire movement. Two minutes here is the maximum time. Food should be avoided for several hours if possible prior to the exercise set. When finished, inhale and hold the breath while stretching the arms straight over the head and stretching up the spine, then slowly exhale. Then repeat the inhale, hold and stretch, and exhale procedure two more times. 
  • The hands are held in the posture called “gyan mudra”, where the tip of the index finger and the tip of the thumb are touching and the other fingers are held straight up from the hand, and the arms are up with the elbows and forearms forming a 90-degree angle and the spine, torso, and arms are twisted to the to the left with the inhalation to the right with the exhalation. This movement is continued for 2 minutes.  
  • Lay flat on the ground and extend the arms out straight behind the head and the legs are out straight. Inhale through the nose and simultaneously raise the arms and legs up to 90 degrees and perpendicular to the floor. Exhale and then lower both the arms and legs to their original position. Continue for 1 minute.  
  • Inhale through the nose and rise up on the knees with the arms extended above the head, then exhale through the nose and squat on the heels and the knees with the arms extended straight out in front of the body with palms down. Continue this movement for 2 minutes.  
  • Inhale through the nose and come up into camel pose with the head hanging back, then exhale and lower the body into baby pose. Continue for 2 minutes.  
  • Stand up straight and inhale through the nose while twisting to the left with the left arm extended out and swinging toward the back as far as possible with the right arm then crossing in front of the chest. Then exhale through the nose while reversing the posture and twisting around to the right with the right arm then extended back and out toward the back as far as possible and the left arm then coming across the chest. The head also turns with the torso. Keep the hands in lightly closed fists, and continue the movement for 2 minutes.  
  • Get down on the hands and knees and start by extending the left arm directly out in front of the body. The right leg is then also extended out straight back behind the body. Make a right angle with the extended hand so that you appear to be pushing against the wall, and also maintain a right angle at the ankle with the extended foot. The head is raised up and the eyes are open. Visually focus on a point directly out in front of the body and stare at a point off in the “infinite horizon”. Either do Breath of Fire through the nose or do long slow deep breathing through the nose. Maintain the posture perfectly without bending either limb, or losing balance, and continue holding this posture with the breathing for 2 minutes. Rest briefly (1 minute or less) and then reverse sides and continue everything for two additional minutes. Note that the opposite arms and legs are extended in the first part and then they are reversed for the second part.  
  • ( Breath of Fire Explanation: This is practiced where the air is pulled in and pumped out very quickly and rhythmically at a rate of about 2 to 3 times per second, just like pumping a bellows, at the navel point. Make an effort to avoid holding any tension in the muscles of the chest, rib cage, or shoulders, which remain relaxed throughout the breath. The only tension felt is a mild effort by the abdominal muscles when the breath is quickly forced out. Every effort is made so that the sound of the inhale and exhale become nearly equal and indistinguishable and where very little work is being done. The easiest way to understand how to do Breath of Fire is to imagine that you have dirt in your nose and you make the effort to rapidly exhale through the nose to push the dirt out using the breath. When doing this, you need to briefly tighten the abdominal muscles at the navel and force the breath out through the nose. Then the inhalation happens naturally. So this can be one way to help develop the rhythm correctly.)
  • Sit with a straight spine and inhale only through the nose while extending the arms directly out to the sides parallel to the ground while maintaining a lock at the elbows. The hands are maintained with the fingers spread wide and loose. In this position the eyes are closed. Then quickly bring the hands toward eachother meeting about 6 inches apart directly in front of the body without letting the hands touch, and this movement is made while exhaling through the nose The eyes are opened when the hands come close together (4-6 inches apart). Continue to rapidly repeat the movement for 2 minutes and make sure that the eyes and breathing phases are correctly synchronized with the movement of the arms. The pace of the complete movement can approach one cycle every 1 to 2 seconds. This is a brain exercise that mimics the opening and closing of a camera shutter, which helps to coordinate the brain and increases the mental focus.  
  • Stand up with the arms extended and raised directly above the head as if reaching for the sky, and inhale when coming up. Then slowly bend forward at the waist without bending the knees and with the head coming toward the ground in front of the body. When the head comes down, the arms swing up behind the body as if reaching up toward the sky. The exhalation through the nose is produced in this phase of the exercise. Start slowly and eventually speed up the pace. Continue for 2 minutes.
  • Sat Kriya is the final exercise in this set. It is practiced by sitting on the heels with the knees brought together in front, and the tops of the feet are then flat on the ground under the buttocks. The arms are positioned straight up over the head with the upper arms pressed lightly against the sides of the head. The elbows are locked in an effort to keep the arms straight, and the hands are brought together and the fingers of the right and left hand are interlocked with only the two index fingers pointing straight up. For males, the right thumb crosses over the left thumb in the interlocking of the fingers and the left little finger is the last finger on the outside with this interlock. For females, the interlacing is reversed, with the right little finger on the outside and the left thumb dominating over the right thumb. The eyes are closed and focused at the third eye point where the eyebrows meet at the root of the nose. The bij mantra Sat Nam is chanted out loud with this exercise. While maintaining this position, the navel point is pulled in toward the back of the spine and simultaneously the muscle between the rectum and sex organ is tightened in what is called root lock. When the navel point is pulled in, the effort will also lead to what is called diaphragm lock. During the simultaneous pulling of the navel point and tightening of the lower muscle, the sound “Sat” is chanted quickly, almost like a cracking sound, and then the abdominal muscles and muscle between the sex organ and rectum are briefly relaxed while the sound “Naam” is chanted quickly. Yogi Bhajan helped to clarify the fine details of this practice by explaining: “Often when you try to do Sat Kriya from the Navel Point, you incorrectly try to apply one of the locks instead of starting with the navel. If you do Sat Kriya and just apply the root lock you temporarily raise your blood pressure. If you do Sat Kriya just with the diaphragm lock, you temporarily lower the blood pressure. Actually in Sat Kriya the locks come from an automatic involvement”. So the Corrective guiding statement is “Do Sat Kriya only from the Navel Point and the two locks should become little helpers automatically in balance.” When chanting “Sat” the mantra sounds more like “Sut”. When the sound “Sat (Sut)” is chanted mentally visualize healing energy and light coming in the navel point and traveling up the spine to the center of the head. While chanting “Nam”, visualize the energy and light traveling out from the center of the head and out through the third eye point. This entire exercise is fairly rapid and rhythmic and is repeated eight times in 10 seconds. It should not be chanted faster or slower and there can be a tendency to either chant too fast or too slowly. Be careful not to flex the spine during the exercise, although sometimes the shoulders will rise up slightly during the practice. The practice time here is 2 minutes. Frequently a student will ask about when to inhale and exhale. The best answer here is that the breath regulates itself and it is not necessary to focus on the breath. By pulling and releasing the navel rhythmically, the breath only leads to confusion on how to practice this exercise. Also, it is important to note that the spine stays still and straight. The rhythmic contraction and relaxation produces waves of energy that circulate, energize, and heal the body. This is neither a spinal flex nor a pelvic thrust. The practitioner should remain firmly seated on the heels throughout the motions of this exercise. To end the practice at 2 minutes, inhale and gently squeeze the muscles from the buttocks all the way up along the spine. Hold the muscles tight for 5-10 seconds as you concentrate on the top of the head. Then exhale completely. Inhale, exhale totally, and hold the breath out as you contract the lower pelvis, lift the diaphragm, lock the chin to straighten the cervical vertebrae, and squeeze all the muscles from the buttocks up the neck. Hold the breath out for 5 to 20 seconds according to your comfort and capacity. Then inhale and relax, and immediately proceed to the rest, exercise 11.
  • If this technique is practiced by itself, then one should also rest and relax on the back for two times the practice time. Sat Kriya can also be practed for longer times – 11, 31, or 62 minutes, or the maximum time of 2 hours and 31 minutes. When there is an effort to practice for longer times, focus your attention on perfecting the form, rhythm, and the visual and mental concentration efforts. When building up the time, start with rotation cycles of 3 minutes of Sat Kriya with 2 minutes of relaxation. This 3 minute-2 minute cycle can be repeated 3 to 5 times and then the cycle can be increased to 5 minutes of rest. Then times of 3 to 5 minutes can more easily be added to the kriya, depending on the practitioner’s ability. Sat Kriya is the master exercise in Kundalini yoga. It works to heal the nervous and glandular systems, and it helps to correct, open, and balance all eight chakras. The ultimate result of this technique is that it can lead to “a nervous system that is as strong as steel and steady as stone” when practiced consistently for the 31 minute and greater times. This is an excellent technique for people who are trying to recover from the ravaging affects of substance abuse and addiction, which have a destructive effect on the nervous system and chakras.
  • When finished with Sat Kriya, relax on the back while maintaining the arms relaxed by the sides with the palms facing up and both legs straight out in front of the body with the heels kept together. This posture is called corpse pose or shavasana. Deeply relax in this posture for 10 minutes.
  • When finished with Sat Kriya, relax on the back while maintaining the arms relaxed by the sides with the palms facing up and both legs straight out in front of the body with the heels kept together. This posture is called corpse pose or shavasana. Deeply relax in this posture for 10 minutes.

These meditations can be found in these books written by David Shannahoff-Khalsa:

Sacred Therapies: The Kundalini Yoga and Meditation Hand Book for Mental Health (2012)

Kundalini Yoga Meditation: Techniques Specific for Psychiatric Disorders, Couples Therapy and Personal Growth (2006)

Kundalini Yoga Meditations for Complex Psychiatric Disorders: Techniques Specific for Treating Psychosis, Personality, and Pervasive Developmental Disorders ( 2010)