Individual Mantra Meditation

Japa literally means to murmur or utter in a low voice and refers to the repetition of mantras or divine names as a spiritual practice. It’s an individual form of mantra meditation as part of a regulated sadhana. 

If you wish to integrate bhakti into your spiritual practice, japa meditation will probably be an important part of it.

In bhakti japa meditation is suitable for both beginners and advanced practitioners. On the one hand it’s technically easy to do and gives satisfactory results almost immediately. On the other hand it’s very profound and requires dedication in order to reach higher levels. 

Mantra meditation is so powerful that its dedicated practice alone is sufficient for self realization in bhakti. However, when japa is accompanied by other bhakti practices, advancement is often swifter and easier.

How to practice japa

Considerations for time and place are very similar to other meditation routines. Early morning practice is most beneficial, especially before sunrise, but basically japa can be practiced at any time of the day. 

Your meditation place should be clean and free from distractions. Yet more important is your regulated and dedicated practice. You should practice every day, if you can and adjust time and place to the circumstances available to you. After all, modern life requires a lot of flexibility, and japa meditation gives you that flexibility.

Japa can be performed as a silent meditation, repeating the mantra in your mind, or uttering the words in a low voice, just enough that you can hear it yourself. Audible repetition usually makes it easier for the mind to stay awake and to focus.

Sit down in a comfortable meditation pose and keep your back straight. Close your eyes and feel the flow of your natural breath for a few moments. Inhale deeply and start repeating your mantra, first slowly with rapt attention to each syllable, then gradually increasing in speed until you find your perfect rhythm. 

You can keep you eyes closed or open them slightly without focussing on anything. However, especially beginners find it helpful to keep an image that is related to the mantra, or the mantra itself in front of them to keep their minds fixed.

Overcoming obstacles

Mantra meditation is one of the easiest kinds of meditations to start with. But due to the nature of the mind, sooner or later obstacles will appear. The mind may lose interest and become bored. Consequently, you become restless, start thinking about your future plans, daydreaming or even falling asleep. 

Distractions appear that make it almost impossible to concentrate. Suddenly all kinds of things seem to be more important than your meditation.

You should know that these obstacles are experienced by everyone without exception. They are part of the purification process. They are challenging you in order to stimulate your dedication and intensity. 

Just try to gently bring your mind back to the mantra. If gentleness does not work, do it more forcefully. If that also fails start praying to the mantra or the personality or power behind the mantra to be able to focus. You might also get up and continue your practice standing or even walking around. Work yourself through the difficult phases until your mind returns to a more cooperative state or until you have finished your daily practice. 

Never give up. Your determination will be rewarded, it will make you spiritually strong. 

Our typical reaction to obstacles on our path is that we start looking for something else. We conclude that “this path is not for me”. And so we give up on self realization or change to another path. 

However, you should know that obstacles must appear on each and every kind of spiritual journey. They are there to help you increase your determination.

The power to overcome all obstacles lies in the mantra itself. Discover that power!!

How to choose your mantra

There seems to be an unlimited number of mantras. Mantras for different purposes. So how to find a mantra, which is suitable for awakening bhakti in your heart?

In India an individual mantra is often given by a guru. But there are also some general mantras in the bhakti tradition, which are suitable for everyone.

It’s important to select a mantra that is naturally attractive to you. You are going to spend a lot of time with your mantra, it might even be your partner for life. You should like it. You should feel a strong connection with it. 

To make a selection you might want to hear the mantra sung or said by others. And try to use the mantra yourself and see how you feel with it. You could also get some more information or read stories related to the mantra.

Suggestions for mantras

  • OM Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
  • OM Namo Narayana
  • Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
  • Sita Ram