Empty Bowl Meditation
Textbook of Ayurveda: General Principles of Management and Treatment
“In the stop, the mind stops… time stops… thought stops… and it opens to the vast emptiness. At the moment you become empty, God will come to fill you. You are close to God.” — Vasant Lad
There are many meditation techniques, but Empty Bowl meditation is one that calms the mind, awakens kundalini shakti, and unfolds a blissful state of awareness. Sit comfortably and quietly in a cross-legged posture facing east or north, with the palms up and placed open on your knees, like empty bowls. Relax your fingers as if you are holding a bowl in each hand. Open the mouth slightly and touch the tongue to the roof of the mouth, behind the front teeth.
Simply watch the movement of the breath, which is the object of awareness. Do not interfere with your breath; just let the lungs do their work with no effort on your part. As you pay attention to your breath, be aware of the tip of your nose and the touch of the air entering the nostrils. Sit quietly and feel you are inside the nose, remaining aware of the movement of air touching the nostrils. Incoming air has a cool touch, while the outgoing air is warm.
After about five minutes, follow the breath with your attention. Go with the air into your nose, throat, lungs, diaphragm, and down behind the belly button, where you will experience a natural “stop.” Stay in this “stop” for a fraction of a second, then follow the exhalation, as it goes upward from the belly to the diaphragm, lungs, throat, and out through the nose to about nine inches in front of the nostrils, which is a second “stop” that is outside the body.
The movement of breath is time. At these stopping points, the breath stops and time stops, and there is only pure existence. God is present and you are surrounded by peace and love. The moment you allow the lungs to breathe and become like an empty bowl, divine lips can touch you and your heart will fill with divine love. God will pour His love into you. Most bowls are full of ambition, competition, thoughts, feelings, desires, anger, frustration, or fear. Since time immemorial, God has been seeking an empty bowl into which to pour His love.
Āgama means inhalation and nigama means exhalation. In these two processes, God is breathing and whispering the love divine into the heart of every being. Hence, another name for Empty Bowl meditation is Āgama Nigama Veda.
Practice this meditation for fifteen minutes each morning and evening. You may also practice this meditation in a prone position. Spontaneously stay in the “stops” between breathing in and out; in whichever stop you feel more comfortable, remain there without effort. In the beginning, it will only be for a fraction of a second, so don’t worry if nothing happens. Just do this sincerely every day for a year or so, without expecting anything. Over the days and months, you will find your time in each stop naturally prolongs until eventually the inner and outer stops merge at the third eye and everything happens within you. A person should think, “nothing should happen,” then everything will happen on its own accord. This is the skill in action of meditation. When your stop, naturally and without effort, increases to ninety seconds, you will be become enlightened. Then you see the inner light behind the third eye, the blue pearl that is a beautiful dawn on the horizon of bliss. This is a powerful technique that leads to kevala kumbhaka, the suspension of breath and thought.