Known in Sanskrit as Agama(“inhalation”) Nigama (“exhalation”) Veda, the Empty Bowl Meditation induces a calm, blissful state of mind by using the breath to access the kundalinishakti—the divine spiritual power that inhabits every human being.
As described in renowned Ayurvedic physician Dr. Vasant Lad’s classic Textbook ofAyurveda, this technique serves as a simple, straightforward approach to mindfulness that can be practiced every day.
How to Practice Empty Bowl Meditation
Begin by sitting comfortably and quietly in a cross-legged position, facing east or north, with the palms up and placed opened on and curved like empty bowls on your knees. Open your mouth slightly and gently press your tongue against the roof of your mouth, behind the front teeth.
As you sit quietly, observe your breath, letting your lungs work naturally without conscious effort. Focus on your breath, maintaining awareness of the tip of your nose and the feeling of the cool air entering the nostrils. Notice the warmth of the outgoing air.
After about five minutes, visualize the movement of your breath. Picture the air going into your nose, throat, lungs, diaphragm, and down behind the belly button. At this point, your breath will naturally come to a “stop.” Stay there for a fraction of a second; then exhale, following the breath upward from the belly to the diaphragm and lungs, and out through the nostrils until it naturally ends at a point about nine inches in front of your nose. You may also practice this meditation while lying down.
The profound benefits of this meditation are evident in Dr. Lad’s comparison of the movement of our breath to the flow of 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 love into you. Most bowls are full of ambition, competition, thoughts, feelings, desires, anger, frustrations, or fear. Since time immemorial, God has been seeking an empty bowl into which to pour his love.”
Practice this meditation without expecting anything special to happen for 15 minutes each morning and evening. With continued practice, the pause between inhaling and exhaling will gradually grow longer without any effort on your part until eventually your breath stops for approximately 90 seconds. It should take a year or so of practicing this meditation daily to naturally achieve this effortless suspension of breath and thought. At this point, according to Dr. Lad, “you will see the inner light behind the third eye, the blue pearl that is a beautiful dawn on the horizon of bliss.”
Source: Vasant Lad, “Empty Bowl Meditation,” The Ayurvedic Institute website: https://www.ayurveda.com/resources/articles/empty-bowl-meditation.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.