Breathe. I listen to the mantra, adjust my sitting position, and let the sound wash over my consciousness. I’m hungry. I bring my mind back to the mantra and the soft, beautiful music accompanying it. I feel sleepy. I begin to softly repeat the mantra, just loud enough for me to hear: “Gopala-Govinda-Rama-MadanaMohana,” The mantra rolls off my tongue; my shoulders begin to relax. Again, I say the mantra: “Gopala-Govinda-Rama-MadanaMohana. ” I wonder if it will rain today? Do I need to water the garden?
And so, my mornings go. Watching my mind’s perambulations, then gently reining it back in to focus on the transcendental sound upon which I am meditating.
The evenings are a bit easier. My mind reviews the day’s events, then slowly turns inward as I become absorbed in the feel of my fingers on my beads, touching and rolling them, one at a time, with each repetition of the mantra.
In those treasured moments when I long to live in harmony, in union with the Supreme, the source of all that is, I feel fortunate, I feel alive, my heart pulsates with love, I am absorbed in peace, and transcendent.
Each morning, when I first arise, and each evening, as I lay my body down to rest, I practice japa yoga, the soft chanting on beads of a mantra, a bonafide mantra that is a Name of God. I learned this process from my spiritual teacher, Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa, who so freely and graciously shared his yoga wisdom and teachings with me and with anyone else interested at it.
From the sacred Vedic text Bhagavad-Gita (Song of God) I read:
For one whose mind is unbridled, self-realization is difficult work. But he whose mind is controlled and who strives by right means is assured of success. That is My opinion. (6:36)
To realize myself as a spark of the Diving Energy, to live every moment in a loving relationship with Him, this is what I seek, to become self-realized. Yet so often I experience how my restless and uncontrolled mind gets in the way of my practice.
So,I engage in the asanas of hatha yoga, to calm and balance both my body and mind. Then I can immerse myself more deeply in my japa yoga meditation, my mantra meditation. Most days I can tap into that inner wellspring of joy that we all hold deep within our hearts. And I never want to stop touching my beads, repeating the sweet mantra. I am in the zone, where I belong.
On the spiritual path, the mind can either be a stumbling block or—if used to reinforce our desire to engage in yoga and return from where we came—our greatest asset.
For years, I practiced silent meditation. And while I experienced some peace after each session, all too soon the anxious cravings of my mind would return. Would I go out to eat? Would I go to a dance party that night? Would I consume intoxicants to achieve a reprieve from my mind’s demands?
The nature of the mind is that it is always active. Meditation means to focus the mind on one point. And the holy mantras received from the living spiritual masters are the topmost thing to place the mind upon.
There is no loss or downside to mantra meditation, no negative side effects. Just the positive effects of a growing awareness, an increasing love, and a thirst for real knowledge.
I encourage you to take up the practice of japa yoga to pacify your mind. You can add it to any of your current spiritual practices. It complements hatha yoga beautifully. And it is a great source of shelter for the hard times that come to each one of us sooner or later.
Please watch this video to hear my spiritual teacher explain how mantra meditation draws the mind away from the temporary material dimension with all its concerns and hassles, and places it into the eternal. Mantra meditation is a practical tool for daily life.
My life is far from perfect, but I experience great shelter from the practice of japa yoga. It provides me with a welcome break, and helps me to realize that my life and all its goings on are not the center. At the same time, though, I feel connected to that center. Afterwards, when I go back to my life’s duties, I feel refreshed and have a different perspective. One that works much better in this world.
So, won’t you give japa yoga a try? You won’t be sorry.
Article by Shelly Wilkinson