How Should Sikhs Meditate?

by Timothy Peckinpaugh
Yoga poses help Sikhs clear the mind before meditation.

Yoga poses help Sikhs clear the mind before meditation.

Sikhism, with its 20 million practitioners, originates in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan, and dates to the 16th century, when Guru Nanak founded the religion. Like other Eastern religious traditions such as Buddhism, it advocates turning to inward in search of spirituality. Meditation allows Sikhs to search inside of themselves for a connection with God.

Preparation

Place your thumb on your left nostril and index finger on your right. Cover your right nostril, and inhale and exhale one breath through your left. Release your right nostril, cover your left and complete one breath through your right. Repeat the process until you feel a sense of relaxation. This breathing exercise is called pranayama, and it prepares you for meditation.

Lie on the floor and place your hands at your sides. Raise your hands about half a foot off the ground with your palms facing down. Raise your feet approximately the same height off the ground. Hold the pose for a minute.

Lie on your back and bring your knees into your chest. Wrap your arms around them. Raise your head toward your knees and hold the pose for a minute. Yoga helps Sikhs prepare for meditation by relaxing the body so practitioners can focus on the mind.

Meditation

Sit on the floor with your back straight, and shoulders down. Close your eyes most of the way; you should be able to see a hazy view through your lids.

Focus on the mantra. For Sikhs, the mantra is a primal sound, similar to the sound that infants make. You are not forming words but basic monosyllabic sounds to focus your attention.

Focus on your breath, while chanting the mantra. Sikhs believe you cannot stop your mind from thinking, since that is its natural function. However, the combination of chanting the mantra and focusing on your breath helps regulate and filter the mind.

Listen deeply to your mantra and breath. This is called suniai, and it means deeply and thoroughly listening to the sounds that you make. Your thoughts will naturally occur, but consider yourself more of an observer than as a conductor of the thoughts. Hear how the mantra begins to sound different to you than when you began. Allow the mantra to transport you to a new state of awareness. If you completely absorb yourself in the sound of your mantra and the pace of your breath, you should reach samadhi, or complete loss of time.

Tips

  • Sikhs can meditate at any time of the day, though many recommend practicing during the quiet morning hours.
  • Meditation benefits typically come after you stick with the practice for a substantial amount of time; it may take a few weeks of practice before you notice them.
  • Any type of yoga poses can help prepare for meditation. If you prefer other poses, feel free to start with those.

About the Author

A resident of Riverside, California, Timothy Peckinpaugh began writing in 2006 for U.S. History Publishers, based in Temecula, California. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Riverside, with a bachelor's degree in English.

Photo Credits

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