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About Mantra Recitation
Swami Gyaaneshvar Bharati has told the following tips to do Mantra Jaap.
(1) One can recite a Mantra solely as a mental process, or somewhat like training a parrot in rote repetition. While this may help train the mind to be one-pointed, the rote repetition is not nearly as beneficial as reciting the mantra with feeling. Recitation along with feeling is a deeper process that brings greater benefits. In either case, it is important to note that the use of Mantra merely to repress emotions is not your intent. It should be used to bring a stabilizing effect on the mind.
(2) Chanting Mantra aloud alone or in a group is surely a very enjoyable and useful process, but after some time that process should turn inward, and the chanting should be done in the inner silence.
(3) One might initially use his willpower to remember the Mantra. This trains the mind to have a centering or balancing effect. Another approach is to sit silently, with attention inward, and allow the Mantra to arise and repeat itself. It might take some patience, but this is a subtler practice. The process of attention is more internal than the process of expression. Also, attention leads to concentration; then concentration leads to meditation; and then meditation leads to Samaadhi.
(4) Some practitioners and teachers of Mantra recite Mantra very fast, this can definitely create a groove on your mind for remembering the Mantra. But the more advanced or internal practice is to allow the Mantra to come at it's own speed. Over time, the Mantra will naturally shift in speed, sometimes moving very fast, faster than the mind might normally be able to recite. At other times, it will naturally move very slowly.
(5) Counting practices can help to focus the mind and create deep impressions that have a stabilizing effect. A practice where a specific number of Mantra is done over an extended period of time (called a Purashcharan) can be a very beneficial practice in clearing or purifying the mind. For example, one might do 125,000 repetitions over a few months. A larger and longer practice is called a Mahaa Purashcharan. When the counting is set aside, the Mantra can more purely shift to a deeper form of meditation, where attention is naturally drawn to the Mantra as a single object of focus. Both practices are useful and have their place in Saadhanaa (spiritual practices). In the beginning, by getting the physical body involved through the motion of the fingers, it can be much easier for the mind to stay focused. But by setting aside the Maalaa, disengaging the use of the motion of the body allows the attention purely goes inward, past body and sensory awareness.
(6) Some practitioners use a name of God from within their religion, or as given by their teacher, as their Mantra. At first, the Mantra or name might be used externally through repetition, chanting, or in song, or recited or remembered internally. Later the Mantra itself might drift away, as the grosser sound is replaced by a deeper longing or communion for what is behind the name or Mantra.
(7) Sometimes the Mantra naturally leads attention into silence, and the practitioner thinks that Mantra is being forgotten. There may be extra effort to then continue to recite, or internally speak the Mantra. Deeper than this is to allow the Mantra to naturally lead attention to its deeper, subtler aspect that rests in the silence. This process can be tricky in practice, as one might just be falling asleep. It requires a bit of practice and attention to notice the difference between drifting off into sleep and going into a deeper, quieter, more clear state of Mantra meditation. This leading quality is one of the most important aspects of Mantra practice.
(8) At meditation time, one can easily get into an inner fight between the Mantra and the stream of thoughts. This is not the best thing to do. Just give some time and the struggle will go away automatically.
(9) Some translate the word Jap as reciting or repeating, while others translate Jap as listening or remembering. One is an active process of expressing, while the other is a passive process of paying attention. The process of actively reciting or repeating is more externally focused, while the process of listening or paying attention is more internally focused. The active process is easier to practice in the beginning, while the attention process is more internal and advanced.
Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 12/13/12