Sometimes it feels as if darkness and despair are all around us. Illness, stresses at work and in relationships, and the continued search for happiness can weigh us down and make us feel like there’s no hope.
Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to learn from my spiritual teacher. Through him, I have slowly come to understand that I am not my body… and, therefore, that endeavors for sense gratification will only bring temporary happiness. My true essence is spirit soul. As a spirit soul — part and parcel of God — I know that true and lasting happiness comes from having a connection with God. The simplest way to do this is by hearing and saying the Holy Names of God through techniques like Gauranga breathing and japa meditation.
What is Japa Meditation?
Mantra meditation is the personal chanting of transcendental mantras. These mantras, which are Holy Names of God, have the ability to relieve your mind from the stresses of this world and help you to focus on God. One mantra that I learned and say each day is “Gopala Govinda Rama Madana Mohana.” By saying this mantra out loud, you engage your senses of speech and hearing, which then cause your mind to focus on the mantra.
Japa meditation takes mantra meditation one step further by introducing beads. The use of beads incorporates the sense of touch to our meditation. According to the vedic teachings, the more senses you involve in meditation, the more potent the effects of the mantras become. In addition, chanting on beads makes use of our inherent desire to touch or fiddle with something, and turns that tendency into something spiritual. As we touch each bead, we say the mantra out loud. “Gopala Govinda Rama Madana Mohana.” Then you continue to the next bead and repeat the mantra.
As you continue to do japa meditation, you’ll notice that your mind begins to focus on the mantras. Other worries or concerns fade away. This is the purifying power of these mantras; they help you become connected to God and forget the troubles and problems of this world. When first beginning japa meditation, don’t worry about the number of mantras that you are chanting. Rather, it is the quality and focus of each mantra that is the most beneficial.
When to Practice Japa Meditation
It is recommended that one should perform japa meditation when you first arise from sleep in the morning and also before one goes to sleep at night.
When you first wake up, your mind is the least cluttered it will be all day. Doing japa first thing in the morning allows one to focus more on the meditation without the thoughts of what they need to accomplish that day interrupting so much. Morning japa also ensures that no matter how busy or crazy your day becomes, you know that you were able to spend some time focusing on God. Morning meditation is a good way to transcendentally kick start your day, making you feel more positive and happy.
It’s kind of the opposite story at night. You’ve likely completed a day where you weren’t able to focus all your time on mantras or God. In fact you may have been bombarded by things you need to accomplish, or worries and stresses throughout the day. This is why japa meditation at night or before bed is important. It allows you to connect back up with God and leave your worries behind. You’ll clear your mind of all that clutter and allow it to focus on God while you sleep, which will allow you to rest peacefully and wake up energized, looking forward to your morning japa meditation.
Morning and night, however, are not the only times when one can do japa meditation. Any time things start to pile up, taking a 5 – 10 minute break to either sit quietly or walk and do japa are good ways to reconnect yourself with God and put yourself in the right state of mind to tackle your daily tasks.
Try it Yourself!
I hope you will give mantra and japa meditation a try. The Holy Names of God are powerful and have a purifying effect on one’s consciousness. According to the ancient scriptures, God’s Holy names are the light that can dissipate the darkness of this world. To learn more about meditation, please visit: https://sif.yoga/meditation