Sit comfortably, with back upright, head level, eyes closed and mouth closed and hands clasped gently, right over left, resting next to your abdomen. It is better to practice first thing in the morning, although any time is good. Regular practice is ideal. Take from 5-20 minutes for the whole practice.
Four Steps of the Meditation
Begin by breathing in gently through your nose, taking in a minimal volume of air. Mentally count your breathing, “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10″ on inhaling, then at the same pace count, “1-2-3-4-5″ on exhaling (also through your nose).
There should be no pause or holding of breath in-between inhaling and exhaling. The breathing should be smooth and continuous. You can take a pause after fully exhaling before the next inhalation.
Try to empty your lungs when exhaling. You can take a pause after exhaling. What is important is the count of 10/5 which relates to the numerical value of the letters of the name of God which is the foundation of this meditation. (You may spend several weeks just on this practice alone. When you are familiar with it, do this alone for 5-7 breaths, then include step 2.)
As you breathe in, be aware of drawing in your “breath” or vital energy from the space around your head, into the head area, filling it completely.
As you breathe out, immediately be aware of this energy flowing from the head into the heart area, filling the heart and then “breathing” it back out into the world through your heart. (You may spend a number of weeks on this and the previous part. When you are familiar with it, stay with them for 5-7 breaths before including step 3.)
As you begin to do this and the last part, you need to drop the mental counting that has accompanied the breathing so far, and continue doing the breathing on the “feel” of 10/5. This is so that your attention is free to do the following: As you breathe in, mentally be aware of the presence of the letter yud with the kamatz located in the head area. As you breathe out, be aware of the presence of the letter heh with the point in its center, located in the heart area.
Do not attempt to actively visualize these letters.
Just keep a background awareness that they actually are in their respective locations. If they arise in your awareness by themselves, this is good. If they do not arise, this is also fine. (You may spend a number of weeks on this and the previous parts. When you are familiar with it, stay with this for 5-7 breaths then include step 4.)
As you inhale, mentally vocalize the sound “yaaaaaaaaaa”. As you exhale, mentally vocalize the sound “hhhhh”, unifying the two sounds to form one continuous mental calling. When you have reached this part of the practice, it is complete. Continue with it for 5-10 minutes.
__________________________________________________________________ Note: In another line from the Psalms (118) which is part of Hallel, it says: (min hametzar karati Ya-H, anani bemerchav Ya-H ) “from my narrowness, distress, I called out to God (Ya-H), God (Ya-H), answered me with expansiveness.”
The meditation with the name Ya-H helps to expand one’s mental space. Through this expansion, whatever thoughts do surface, continuing to clear themselves, occupy a smaller and smaller part of the mental space. There is a pronounced heaviness and solidity that can be felt as the mind/body becomes one. This is perhaps what is meant by the experience of the Early Chassidim who sat for hours a day as part of their prayers to acquire a coved rosh, literally a “heavy head”.
Judaism teaches that God is continually, moment to moment renewing the work of creation. It is taught that the name Ya-H is the name which brings about this creation and constant renewal. This name and its associated awareness in the body during the meditation, activates an intrinsic joy which can be felt in the heart. It brings a new light into the mental space. In the presence of this new light, it is much easier to let go of the old, allowing ones mind to be cleared and renewed with each breath. This “mental” light circulates throughout the whole body, bringing physical renewal and relaxation. The attitude of patience and trust cultivated while meditating in ones inner space eventually transfers to ones interactions with the external world. One will be more patient, less prone to passion and shortness of temper, more observant and giving space to the other, because one has found more space, balance, and relaxation inwardly. Not only does ones mental space expand and stabilize, but one achieves a positive “isolation” from external noises and thoughts. For a period of time, one can enjoy a tremendous mental rest and serenity which allows one to return to the work of the world with renewed enthusiasm.
The meditation taught here is a traditional but timeless method for making ourselves new, and in the process arriving at a stabilized mind, a basically healthy mind which is the foundation for a good life and the service of man and God.