Pranayama & Meditation Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 4

Back of the Head Meditation

5 min - Practice


The inspiration for this meditation comes from an ancient yogic text, Shiva Samhita. Richards guides us in a subtle practice of withdrawing all of our awareness from the limbs and concentrating it into the base of the skull. We then gradually allow our consciousness to spread back into the body. Rest in the spaciousness that is you.
What You'll Need: No props needed


Read Full Transcript

Hi, we're back with Alana and Betsy. And this practice comes from an old text. There are usually, it's usually said there are three texts, Sanskrit texts, that are central to the Hatha practice. The oldest being the Hatha Yoga Pradipika or the Hatha Pradipika. The other two being the Giranda Samhita and the Shiva Samhita. As the name indicates, the authorship of the text is attributed to Shiva.

The Pradipika and the Giranda are basically instructional manuals. There's not a lot of philosophy involved in either one of those. However, the Shiva Samhita is very heavily philosophical and very strongly influenced by Vedanta. So there's a lot of information in that text about the chakras and the subtle body. And this is a meditation from that text.

It's not really well known nowadays that there are quite a bit of meditation practices in Hatha Yoga. Usually Hatha Yoga nowadays is associated with Asana. But the traditional practice had quite a number of meditations or maybe more accurately described as visualizations. However, this one is very simple and my students enjoyed quite a bit. And what you do, very simple, is begin to withdraw your awareness or your attention out of your feet, your legs, your hands and arms, your torso, your neck, your face.

And you concentrate all of that awareness at the base of your skull and the back of the head. Now at first it's going to be a little bit difficult to do that. Your awareness will be reluctant to be corralled in that way, especially when it comes to drawing it away from the face. So you'll have to be a little bit persistent right at first to create that feeling. But what you want to visualise doing is creating like what I always compare it to as a black hole.

I'm not sure if you're aware of what that is, but it's a star that's collapsed in on itself. And that's so compact that light can't escape. So what I compare it to is that consciousness is now compacted into a small ball at the base of the skull and back of the head. And it's so compact that consciousness can't escape, awareness can't escape. And all of your awareness, all of your attention is concentrated at the back of the head.

And you will sit for a few minutes, or longer if you prefer, with all of that attention concentrated there at the back of the head. And I'm not quite sure why it's such an interesting practice, but it's fairly universally agreed upon that it's quite effective and quite useful. And I've added something to it that's changed a little bit. I feel like it's acceptable to do that. And what that is, is once you've sat and held the attention at the base of the skull for a time, then you'll begin to let the attention or the awareness or the consciousness begin to spread back out into the body once again. So from the base of the skull you release that into the face, down through the neck, into the shoulders, arms and hands, back down through the torso, legs and into the feet.

So that you take the awareness from that little concentrated spot at the base of the skull and then you spread it out back into the body once again. So that you go from a very, very, very limited sense to a feeling, a very universal sense to where you begin to feel all the nooks and crannies of the body. And then again you can sit and stay there for as long as you like, a minute or two or longer. And we'll let the helpers come out now so you can take a couple of breaths. And when you're ready you can open your eyes and gaze back on to the beautiful world in front of you.

Thank you. Again, this has no name that I know of. It may be out there somewhere. I'm not aware of it. And I simply call it the meditation on the back of the head. And it's from the Shiva Sabita, which is a late 1600s, 17th century book, I believe. Thank you.


Katie M
1 person likes this.
Very nice. I will be practicing this!
Katherine F
....can this be practised for an extended time? Like 20 minutes. Is it explained in Shiva Samhita the benefits of this practise? I know people like Yogananda were very interested on the attention to the medulla oblongata.....which I believe is same or very close to where we place attention in this practise?

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.

Footer Yoga Anytime Logo

Just Show Up

Over 2,900 yoga and meditation practices to bring you Home.

15-Day Free Trial