You have all the good intentions in the world to sit down to meditate. You find a comfortable spot, turn your phone to silent, let the dog play outside, give your kids a snack, and set your timer for 15 minutes. All you want is silence for that short amount of time.
Is it really that hard to get? you ask yourself. Then, once you finally sit down to meditate, the thoughts start popping in, and they seem to get louder and louder the quieter you try to become. What is wrong with me? you think. How does anyone do this?
Every single meditator has been there at one time or another. It’s difficult to meditate mindfully without a method or a mantra. Early in my yoga practice, before I learned formally how to meditate, one of my teachers taught me the Satnam meditation. This meditation engages the mind with sound and engages the body with movement. It’s relatively simple to do and can be done in a silent seated meditation or even in a walking meditation. You can even teach this meditation to children who like the physical movement of the Satnam meditation.
The Meaning of Satnam
Used most frequently in Kundalini yoga, the word satnam comes from two Sanskrit words: sat and nam, also written as naam. Sat in Sankrit means “truth, honest, right” and also can mean “existence.” Nam means “name” and has also been translated to mean “to bow.” It can be translated in English to mean “God is truth.” Or “God’s name is truth.” I have also heard it to mean “I bow to my higher self.” One thing is for certain; the word satnam has an effect of transcendence.
Engaging the Mind and the Body
You have, without a doubt, already experienced the monkey mind in your meditation practice. The mind wants something to do and it will try to get your attention while you meditate. The mantra will engage the mind as if to give that busy monkey a banana to eat for a while so it will sit still. In addition to engaging the mind with the mantra, you will also engage the body by using acupressure points on the fingers in rhythm to the mantra. This has the added benefit of focus and is especially good for beginning meditators or for the times when you are having a hard time letting go.
How to Practice Satnam Meditation
Until you get the hang of it, sit in a comfortable seated position with your back straight and your eyes closed. Place your hands, palms facing up on your lap. The sounds you will either say out loud or repeat silently inside of your head are SA-TA-NA-MA. You can start by repeating the sounds out loud for a minute, then whisper the sounds until eventually you say them silently to yourself without moving your tongue or your lips.
- When you say “SA,” touch the index fingers to your thumbs.
- With the sound “TA,” touch your middle fingers to your thumbs.
- As you say “NA,” touch your ring fingers to your thumbs
- When you say “MA,” touch your pinky fingers to your thumbs.
- Then, repeat with the sound “SA” and move through the fingers again.
Continue to repeat this pattern throughout the meditation. Even if you are silently repeating the mantra, continue to move the fingers according to the rhythm of the sounds.
Once you feel comfortable with the meditation, you can use this method in a walking meditation and since it has a four count, it’s easy to walk to.
Keep this meditation easy, allow it to fall into a natural rhythm without forcing it and do it anywhere between five and 20 minutes.
You can also check out my two-minute video walkthrough on the Satnam Meditation to help refocus the mind.
Learn how to meditate at our introductory Meditation Weekend retreat. Leave the choas and clutter of daily life behind as you slip into the tranquil, restorative space of a weekend filled with meditation. Click here to learn more.