The practice of japa can bring wonderful benefits if you reflect on the meaning of the mantra. This can be done during the actual practice or throughout the day. This need to know must come from the very depths of your heart. It will not bring results if you do it halfheartedly. Each mantra has vast power which you have to unfold. You have to merge yourself with the mantra and experience everything that the mantra evokes. Each mantra represents something that cannot be spoken about. It has to be experienced. This is why we are not very interested in explaining the meaning of mantras. This is bound to be superficial. You must find out the meaning of a mantra for yourself. No person can ever explain the real meaning of a mantra to another person. Communication cannot bridge the chasm between verbal meaning and direct experience.
This process of reflection on the meaning of a mantra intensifies the whole process ofjapa sadhana. However it is really for people who have penetrating powers of enquiry and who have a one-pointed calm mind. You are not obliged to reflect on the meaning of a mantra during japa. Japa will give wonderful results without this reflection, but it can lead to the highest fruit of japa sadhana.
Devotion is another powerful method of intensifying the practice of japa. It is to be practised by those people who are naturally inclined towards worship. It is for those people who are notably emotional in character. Each mantra is shakti, each mantra is a direct link to the divine. Therefore, when you chant your mantra, try to feel that you are communing with the divine essence. Feel love in your heart. Be aware of all the associations of the mantra. Let this welling-up of feeling (bhava) fill your whole being. Eventually the heart will recite the mantra spontaneously. This will intensify the whole process ofjapa.