In this season of love, don’t forget to love (and take care of) yourself first. Yogis might find the deep winter of February naturally more introspective and quiet, I think as I tap the keyboard here at my desk. Or not. Maybe it’s more like looking for calm amidst the storm; a storm called the children. For example, say school is cancelled (like it was again today) and you’ve been up since 4:30 am and that assignment is a week overdue? As sure as we love our babies, we’ve all had those moments when your last nerve is being tested by the loud battle cry of children, I don’t know, wrestling or someone is riding the dog who has a cone around his neck. Might you have a few of your own to add?
These are moments where busy moms especially could use the chance to take a step back, tune into and take care of their needs. As the saying goes, one is better able to take care of others once their own air masks are secure, which is like being connected. It’s the same connection with source, that describes how So Ham meditation feels to me. I don’t know about you but if I take up something I only have time for the practical. I want something that works. I am talking about a meditation that does. For all the mamas out there who never tried, have wanted to start or those who started but dropped it, this one is good for stilling the mind. Oh, and my friend Nancy wanted you to know how it saved her life.
It had been several years since I had seen Nancy. I was at the school where she worked. In the crowd, she approached me with tears in her eyes to say thank you for sharing the So Ham meditation. Nancy was an athletic mountain-climber who came to the intermediate yoga classes I had taught years before. I remembered her as kind when she told me the story of how she fell from a cliff while climbing with her husband. Having felt her lumbar vertebrate crush upon impact, she had 30 minutes to lay there waiting for her husband to return with help!
Panicked, she remembered how to practice So Ham meditation. Interestingly, while she could do most of the physical yoga poses in class, she’d never been able to meditate before. It came to her and she practiced inhaling “So” and exhaling “Ham.” Then a calmness in the practice comforted her. “I was able to lie there without freaking out which is critical to recovery, of course!” Imagine profound stillness in your body and mind at the critical moment, pretty cool eh? Nancy’s doctors said it contributed to her ability to walk again which took place years later.
What is the “So Ham” Mantra?
Mantra is said to be the boat on which we navigate the choppy waters of the mind. Mantra gives the mind something to lean on in the form of seed thoughts which we plant by means of intention. Some call it being at one with the universe or in tune with ultimate reality. According to Vedic philosophy, So Ham means identifying oneself with the universe or ultimate reality. So meaning “that” and ham referring to “I am.” “That” has also been interpreted as the witness, the part that recalls dreams, the atman or the universe.
How to practice So Ham Meditation
- Sit comfortable and cross-legged with your spine straight, shoulders soft and with your ears, shoulders and hips aligned. (This can be performed in various settings and positions, even in the grocery store or a meeting. No one has to know! Breathe in deep as you inflate your low belly, middle belly and chest, in that order.
- Exhale, relax your chest, mid then low belly, in that order.
- Continue the breath and add the mantra.
- Inhale say to yourself “So”
- Exhale say to yourself “Ham”
Practice for a few minutes everyday or throughout the day. At first maybe it’s 5 minutes a day, then 10. Practice baby steps along the way and see what happens when you take time for yourself.
So thanks to Nancy for her inspiration and determination in sharing her story, so that you may have it when you need it most. And for the rest of you perhaps in the same boat as me, may there be love and harmony in your home for Valentine’s day this month (and God-willing, amongst the kids on snow days).