Classic Trantric Kundalini
This meditation exercise combines mantra, visualisation and bandha (locks) to raise and transform energy through the entire system of chakras. It is a classic application of the specific ideas of Kundalini Yoga devised during the Tantric period ca 500-1200 CE. Breath, attention, visualisation and sound are transported through all levels of energy in the being, from gross (first chakra) to subtle (seventh chakra) in a repetitive cycle. It performs a transformation, sublimation and elevation of personal and universal energy.
How to do it
We chant the ashtanga (eight part) mantra “Ek Ong Kaar Sat Naam Siri Wahe Guru” in a drawn out way, placing the syllables in visualisation in specific chakras accompanied by contractions of corresponding inner muscles, so called bandhas (locks). One cycle is done in two-and-a-half breaths and takes about 45-60 seconds:
We inhale deeply, then
1. chant “Ek” contracting the pelvic floor, concentrating on the first (root) chakra in the perineum, immediately followed by
2. chanting “Ong” drawn out with a nasal sound for ca 10 seconds, contracting the muscles around the sexual organs (while also holding the tension in the pelvic floor from the previous step), focussing on the concentration point for the second (sexual) chakra at the pubic bone, then
3. chant “Kaar” with a drawn our “aaa” sound for ca 10 seconds, pulling in the navel/abdominal muscles (while also holding the tensions of the previous steps), focussing on the concentration point of the third (navel) chakra at the navel, then
inhale deeply for the second time, then
4. chant a short “Sat” lifting the diaphragm (while still holding the tensions of the previous steps), focussing on the concentration point of the fourth (heart) chakra at the centre of the sternum, immediately followed by
5. chanting “Naam” with a drawn our “aaa” sound for ca 10 seconds, stretching and somewhat stiffening the back of the neck (while still holding the tensions of all previous steps), focussing on the concentration point of the fifth (throat) chakra at the front of the neck, then
6. chant “Siri” accompanied by no further muscle activity but still holding the tensions of all previous steps, focussing on the concentration point of the sixth chakra (third eye) on the mid-eyebrow centre, then
inhale half way, then
7. chant “Wah He” accompanied by no further muscle activity but still holding the tensions of all previous steps, focussing on the concentration point of the seventh (crown) chakra at the top of the head, with “He” visualising the energy rising out of the top of the head, then
8. chant “Guru” relaxing all tensions built up during the cycle and visualising the energy spreading, distributing and sinking down into the aura, the space around the body.
You can also do the exercise only with the chanting and concentration, completely without using the bandhas. As you continue practising you will find your way to make it work best for you. This meditation can be practised up to 2.5 hours in one sitting. The best time to practice this meditation is in the early hours of morning, before sunrise.
Download the full diagram: LongEkOngKaar.pdf
This meditation is an excellent exercise for a profound personal sadhana (daily practice). It will provide you with deep inner connection, serene vitality, heightened awareness and sensitivity of your breath, body and energy apart from many health benefits (see below under Bandhas).
You could start practising the exercise every morning for 11 minutes for a week or two, then increase the time to 31 minutes and continue for as long as you feel. Natural motivation and challenging resistance will come and go in their own rhythm as time passes.
If you would like to take it one step further and give something of yourself into the spirit of what the exercise connects you to, you can become more serious about the discipline and commit to a programme like, for example, 11, 31 or 62 minutes daily for a period of 40, 90 or 120 days in a row (any combination is possible).
The threshold of “mastery” is offering 2.5 hours in one sitting for a period of 40 days in a row, or any fixed number of minutes for a 1000 days in a row. However, this should be considered only if you have several years of experience in meditating and if you have previously practiced this or several other shorter personal sadhanas.
Few years back, I practised Long Ek Ong Kaar Meditation for 2.5 hours for 40 days in a row. Although I had already practised various sadhanas for more than a decade, it still was a challenge, profound experience and touchstone for me. I highly recommend it to anybody who wants to strengthen their connection to spirit and soul on the path of yoga, transform and grow further into existence.
Tonglen & Neelkanth
Two famous practices from other traditions come to mind that are kindred in spirit to the Long Ek Ong Kaar Meditation, the Buddhist breathing technique of Tonglen and the story of Lord Shiva as Neelkanth (blue throat). Knowing about either of them can inform you in finding a way into your practice or giving the practice a particular purpose and spin.
Tonglen is a Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice that is known as “giving and taking.” On the inhale, you take in the pain and suffering of yourself and others and on the exhale you give space, compassion and healing to yourself and others.
According to Hindu mythology, Shiva gained the epithet Neelkanth (blue throat) when he consumed the poison that emerged from Samudra Manthana (churning of the ocean), which rendered his throat blue: At one point in the mythology, the good spirits formed an alliance with the bad spirits to jointly churn the primordial ocean to distract the nectar of immortality, and to share it among each other. After many problems, conflicts and tragedies on the way, Shiva sucked in the poison that emerged in the process of churning and held it in his throat so that the others could have access to the nectar. This gave him a blue throat (neel kanth).
The overall idea is transformation from something gross, dark, poisonous and painful to something subtle, light, liberating and healing. Find context and application according to your own situation and needs.
Bandhas are contractions of inner muscles to hold the energy is specific places or to support the flow of energy in a desired way guided by visualisation. They also help to release psychic and energetic blockages and awaken the flow of Kundalini through the channels and chakras.
Bandhas also have many physical health benefits:
- strengthening of inner muscles
- massaging of inner organs
- increasing of flexibility and strength of inner tissues
- stimulating the blood flow
- stimulating the glands by pressure and massage
Generally, meditation has proven to have many beneficial effects:
- relieves stress and anxiety
- lowers cortisol levels
- lowers blood pressure
- reduces swelling and inflammation
- relieves chronic pain
- strengthens the immune system
The best translation of the mantra is the one that you find through your own effort of singing it in meditations and studying the meaning of the original words and others’ translations.
Here is one of my own translations: “One Divine process of creation, true name, identity and essence, great ecstasy of Divine experience from darkness to light”
Here is the 3HO translation: “The Creator and all creation are one. This is our True Identity. The ecstasy of this wisdom is Great beyond words.”
Apart from understanding a mantra intellectually through a literal translation of words in grammar, there is a potent and important way of forming direct relationships to the sounds as consonants, vowels and syllables, aiming more for an inner, essential or emotional “understanding.” The same can be done for the pitches of tones within a scale or in relation to a drone base tone in vocal and instrumental music. I think both approaches can be equally valid in bringing us closer to the mantra, its meaning and power.
In 3HO the mantra is sometimes called Adi Shakti Mantra. However, the mantra predates the foundation of 3HO* and is unlikely to be referred to elsewhere under this name. 3HO writes about the meditation (in the simplified version without bandhas): “The mantra creates a relationship between the individual soul and the Universal Soul. It is said that this meditation can balance all of the chakras, open the solar plexus, liberate you from the cycle of time and karma, and unite you with the Divine.”
* see Everyday Miracles in the House of God, by Mary Pat Fisher, Gobind Sadan, 1992, page 171
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