Meditation Session – SO HUM technique

The SO HUM meditation is loosely based on the sound of your breath.  When you take an inhale it sounds like “SO” and when you exhale it sounds like “HUM”.  It is a very simple and effective meditation that uses rhythm and repetition.  Children (and adults) find it very easy to use the SO HUM technique as it gives them a tangible tool for their meditation practice.  It is very difficult to quiet your mind at will and to stop thinking any thoughts.  Even just following the flow of breath can be difficult for children, they get distracted with thoughts such as, “Am I doing it right?”, “ I can’t feel my breath“ or “ How long do I hold it?”   And if do they hold their breath too long, they can cause themselves to become lightheaded or tense.  Yet the gentle repetition of a simple breath sound is very easy to grasp.   It allows the mind something to hold onto other than thoughts and eventually, as can happen with any repetitive movement, one may drift into a mindful state.

It is important to note that SO HUM has no meaning, and while it can be soothing to repeat, it  has no associations and is not a religious chant.

Here are the basic steps for a SO HUM meditation practice:

  1. 1.Sit comfortably where you will not be disturbed and close your eyes.  Try to keep your spine erect.  (Not as rigid as a military trainee, but no slouching either.)
    Note: Some children are afraid to close their eyes, in which case ask them to soften their gaze and direct it downwards.
  2. For a few a minutes or so, simply observe your breath or relax your breathing.  With children it may help to lead them through a simple guided imagery where they can gently notice their breathing.  For example, ask them to visualize a lake, and watch the waves go up on the inhale and down on the exhale.
  3. Now begin to repeat quietly out loud the sounds SO HUM.  This part can be done as a group.
  4. Now continue repeating SO HUM but a little softer.
  5. Now barely whisper SO HUM
  6. Now repeat the words SO HUM to yourself silently, just think it.
  7. Continue to repeat SO HUM gently. don’t worry if it synchronizes with the breath, or if it is fast or slow.  Some people may even see SO HUM written out.  This is ok.
  8. Whenever your notice your attention drift away to thoughts in your mind, sounds in your environment, or feelings in your body, just gently return to your SO HUM.  It is ok and normal to have thoughts and get distracted.  Just whenever you remember, go back to repeating SO HUM.
  9. Continue the practice for the prescribed amount of time.
    Generally for younger children it is about a minute of meditation for the age of the child; up to 10 to 15 minutes for young teens.  For adults it is 20 to 30 minutes. However any amount of time is beneficial.  It is fine to start small and work up to longer amounts.
  10. When the time is up, stop repeating SO HUM and just sit quietly for a minute or two, before resuming activity again.  You never want to jump up after a meditation session.