Awareness should be on the mantra, mala and the activities of the mind. Also be aware of the pulse if you practise method 2.
When and where to practice
You can practise japa at any time and in any place. However, in order to discipline the mind, it is best to practise at a regular time every day. The best times are early morning and evening before sleep.
Japa can also be done as a preparatory practice before doing other meditational techniques. This will calm the mind so that one gains the most out of the concluding practice.
Japa gives the same benefits as all other meditative practices. It calms the turbulent mind and helps to expel complexes, neuroses, etc. It does this slowly without disrupting one’s life. Japa charges the mind with positive sound vibrations and this is wonderful therapy for even the most disturbed mind. It brings about one-pointedness of mind, without resorting to forced concentration. It helps to release the incredible dormant faculties and power that is the inheritance of us all. Finally it leads to meditation.
General rules and suggestions
For clarity, we will summarize the basic points on japa that we have already discussed:
- Use a mantra that has been given by your guru. If you have no personal mantra, use the universal mantra Aum.
- Rotate your mala with your middle finger, using the thumb and ring finger for support. Use your right hand.
- Don’t cross the sumeru bead while rotating the beads; turn the mala so that it is rotated in the opposite direction.
- Relax your mind and body but don’t sleep.
- Don’t concentrate. Be aware. In concentration one withdraws the attention from all sides to one point. In awareness, one pays attention not only to that one point, but to all the thoughts that arise. One does not wrestle with the mind, but slowly tames it by being a witness to all activity.
If necessary, alternate your practice between baikhari, upanshu and manasik japa. If the mind is disturbed stick to baikhari; if the mind is calm do manasik. If the mind wanders too much while doing manasik, then change to baikhari.
Pronounce your mantra clearly and rhythmically. If your mind starts to wander then the speed can be increased.
Don’t disclose your mantra to anyone.
Try to practise japa regularly in accordance with an anushthana.
Reflect on the meaning of the mantra whenever you have time to spare.