Japa Yoga: How to chant a mantra japa - Part 1
How to Chant Mantras
Chanting mantras, repeating the name of God, and meditating are practiced around the world in many religions. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and other religions and spiritual practices all utilize sound to achieve a connection with divinity. Chanting mantras is a mystical experience because the body, through sound, singing, and meditation, becomes a temple and divine instrument. In order to chant mantras properly, you need to develop the right mindset, select your mantra, and practice chanting.
Developing the Mindset
Understand the power of sound.We all use words to express ourselves and meet our needs, speaking about 15,000 words out loud a day. A mantra is a sound, syllable, word or phrase that you may use for multiples reasons. Some use mantras to maintain focus during mediation, allow meanings to reach their subconscious, have a spiritual experience, achieve a goal or help change themselves for the better.
Find a quiet spot.You will want to start out in a place with few distractions. A bedroom where you can shut the door and windows works fine. Minimize distractions, such as phone calls, notifications and television by shutting electronic devices off so you can focus on your mantra.
- You can add incense or candles to your meditation spot to help you get into the mood and focus.
- Set aside time every day to practice your mantra. You will want at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted time for this.
Figure out your mantra’s intention.Intentions are the thoughts and emotional drives that initiate every action we take. Whether we decide to go to the store, wave to a friend, say a word or go to work, it all starts with an intention. Think about the reason you want to perform a mantra—for peace, health, success or a spiritual connection? Determine the purpose for your mantra session and focus on that.
Find a comfortable position.Most people choose a sitting position but you can adopt whatever position you find comfortable. If you are flexible and used to the position, you may want to use the lotus position. Since your comfort level will determine your ability to relax and focus on your mantra, don’t force yourself to take on a pose that will be distracting or uncomfortable.
- It is important to keep your back naturally straight but not rigid. Do not slouch.
- Many people choose a cross-legged meditation position. If this is a difficult position to maintain, you can make it easier with your back against a wall or use a rolled blanket or towel under your ankles.
- Sitting upright in a chair is another option. To do this, keep your feet directly under your knees, press your thighs against the chair and make sure your feet have good contact with the ground. Keep your spine straight and your chest raised.
Relax.Clear your mind, and don’t worry about the past or the future. Focus on what is happening at the moment. Concentrate on your feet, legs, back, arms, hands, neck, face and scalp, and notice any tension. Loosen your muscles as if you are floating under water. You could also imagine that you are in a place that makes you happy, like a beach, an old memory or an imaginary place.
Breathe properly.Proper breathing is important when chanting because it gives you more control over the quality of the sound and helps you maintain a rhythm. The goal is to sit quietly, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. During deep breathing, your abdomen should rise as you inhale and slowly drop as you exhale.
- Inhale slowly through your nose. Count to 10 in your head, and hold your breath for 10 more seconds. Then exhale for 10 seconds. Continue doing this for 3 minutes, at the least. This will prepare you for your mantra chant.
Consider taking a class or joining a group.A session filled with multiple people speaking a mantra aloud can be very powerful and moving. An instructor can guide you with proper breathing, pronunciation and help you attain the right state of mind. Singing, dancing, using instruments, drumming, hand-clapping or rattles can all be used to help your mantra practice.
Choosing your Mantra
Learn about different mantra types.Think about your intention, and what you want to get out of practicing your mantra. Consider questions, such as, how do you conceive of God or the divine? You may want to deepen your spiritual connection or achieve a goal. The type of mantra you choose should reflect your purpose and how you relate to God.
Consider a chant using the name of God.Many religions have a name for God that you can use to create a mantra with. Hebrew mystics, for example, chant the secret names Yahweh, Adonai and Elohim. Hindu yogis may use the names of Siva, Vishnu, Brahma or others. Some Christians sects chant or sing Jesus’s or Maria’s name.
- Singing devotional songs or mantras could be truly a mystical and a mysterious experience. We sing devotional songs with deep feelings, and full faith, letting the transcendental beauty, and qualities represented within the words enter our souls.
- Singing words of mantras, prayers or devotional songs we become the transcendental vibration of the sound that we repeat, and we become pure love and joy.
Work on pronunciation.If you are not a native speaker of the language you will use for your mantra, then practice pronouncing the words prior to your mantra chanting session. That way you won’t let pronunciation issues distract you during your mantra practice. However, know that your pronunciation does not have to be perfect because what is in your heart matters most.
Use a rosary or a japa mala.A holy item, such as japa mala (a string of 108 wooden beads) or rosary beads (necklace in the Catholic Christian faith), can help focus your thoughts and add closure for each completed mantra. Each time a mantra is spoken, the speaker rubs a thumb across a japa mala bead, while Catholics repeat prayers holding a rosary.
- Do not let other people handle your holy item. It is for you alone.
Try a Sanskrit mantra.There are many Hindu or Sanskrit mantras that are often used for this purpose. The most well-known mantra is the use of the sound, OM. This sound represents the original vibration of the universe, and is often used at the start a mantra practice.
- Om Namah Shivaya is a mantra about bowing to the the supreme deity of transformation, Lord Shiva, and the highest self. This mantra can help you obtain a higher spiritual connection and build self-confidence.
- The mantra, Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu, is one dedicated to the happiness and freedom for all beings. Saying this can help your thoughts, words and actions contribute, promote non-harm and assist you in being of service to the greater good.
- This chant: Shanti Mantra , Om Saha Naavavatu, Saha Nau Bhunaktu, Saha Veeryam Karava Vahai, Tejasvi Aavadheetamastu Maa Vidvishaavahai Om, is a mantra that translates to: May the Lord protect and bless us, may he nourish us, giving us strength to work together for the good of humanity, may our learning be brilliant and purposeful, may we never turn against one another.
- Om Gan Ganapatayei Namah is a mantra to Lord Ganesh, god of wisdom and success and destroyer of obstacles, for blessings and protection.
- The Hare Krishna mantra is meant to enhance consciousness, free one from the birth and death cycle and bring total self-fulfillment. It goes: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
- The mantra, Baba Nam Kevalam, is used by Anansa Marga, meaning of infinite love, filling you with happiness, peace and love.
- Om Mani Padme Hum is a popular Buddhist mantra that can lead one to enlightenment.
- For those of you more comfortable with a feminine deity, Om Shree Matre Namah, is a mantra to the Divine Mother.
- If you desire world peace, then Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu is a good mantra for wishing peace to all beings.
Use other mantras.You should always use a mantra that you are comfortable with and that will be meaningful to you. If you are not comfortable with Sanskrit or the Hindu language or gods, insert a familiar deity or choose another mantra that fits your spiritual beliefs. If English works better for you, then speak your mantra in English.
- For example: the Lyrics of 'I love you Lord we sing and pray' are very inspiring. Try singing: 'You are my Mother you are my Father. You're the beginning, you are the center, you are beyond the end. You are the colors of the rainbow...'
- Om Christave Namah is a mantra to Jesus Christ and may be one you choose if you are more comfortable with the Judeo-Christian religion.
Envision the divine.Take a moment to picture your idea of God. This can be a specific deity in any religion you feel comfortable with. You may choose to do research on the deity and see examples of images and statues devoted to that god or goddess to help you. You may also imagine your chosen spiritual entity however you please and in a way that makes the most sense to you.
Take a deep breath.Repeat Om 3 times. Focus on the sound and the vibrations in your throat. Breathe out slowly. Be sure that you are relaxed and comfortable.
Hold your holy item.You may wish to pray the rosary. If you are using a japa mala, then hold the beads in your right hand between your thumb and middle finger. If your item has a large bead or a tassel, move your fingers to the left of it. Every time you repeat your mantra, you will move your finger and thumb to the left of the current bead.
- You will come back to the large bead or tassel again after 108 repetitions. You may then turn the beads around and continue moving across the beads in the opposite direction so you don't pass the large bead or tassel.
Repeat your mantra.Speak the sound slowly and clearly in a confident voice. Try to feel your breath and voice coming from your navel instead of just your head. If you are using your japa mala, then you will want to repeat your mantra at least 108 times. If not, repeat your mantra as many times as you want or until you feel like it has had the maximum positive effect for that session.
Respect your body’s signals.If you are nervous, your voice may shake while you chant. Pay attention to see if your voice is very quiet or too loud. You may need to center and calm yourself to gain control of your emotions and your voice through better breathing. If your throat is tight or you are tensed, then you will need to relax further.
for a few minutes.After repeating your mantra, sit quietly and focus on your breath. Let thoughts come and go, gently bringing your mind back to your breathing each time. Know that your thoughts are just distractions and are meaningless in themselves, so don’t allow yourself to react emotionally to them. This is your time to be calm and still after practicing your mantra.
Meditate on Love.Chanting mantras, praise worship songs, Bhakti songs, Hindi devotional songs, are all the ways to praise and worship the Divine. Powerful mantras, Maha mantra, and devotional songs, from all over the world, all have the same goal: increasing Love within our hearts and on Earth. Feel free to sing your mantras throughout each day.
QuestionIf I chant mantra in bed, is it valid?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. Just make sure you know how to meditate properly before you do so.Thanks!
QuestionCan I chant something like "God is great"?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBy saying "God is great," you are simply showing your devotion to him, and of course he will answer you directly. But chanting a mantra actually calms you and makes you feel content and connected to the divine. You can connect with God in any way you want, but the reality is God is omnipresent and will always be with you.Thanks!
QuestionIf I repeat mantras throughout each day as I do various tasks, how can I be attentive to the task at hand?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt's not the best idea to chant a mantra while concentrating on something else. The purpose of a mantra is concentration on that aspect of your life so it's advisable not to do tasks whilst repeating a mantra.Thanks!
QuestionIs chanting mantras similar to meditating?Sun DonkunCommunity AnswerChanting has to do with verbal expression while meditating has to do with your own senses: sight, taste, smell, sound and touch. The similarity is that they both require concentration while executing.Thanks!
QuestionWill chanting mantras help my insomnia?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPractice meditation and focused relaxation. Begin by laying comfortably on your back, in bed, your head and neck in a comfortable position, and your arms and legs straight. The room doesn't have to be completely dark, but it should be quiet. Begin by focusing on your breathing, slowly and deeply until you have a rhythm established. Then focus on your feet and leg muscles relaxing until you feel no tension. Proceed up your back, to your arms, belly, chest, and finally your neck. Maintain your breathing throughout. If you have thoughts running through your mind, let them go by. Visualize a cool color entering your body as you breathe in. This should help you drift off to sleep.Thanks!
QuestionWill this cure my Lyme disease?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. Lyme disease needs medical attention to be managed.Thanks!
QuestionCan I chant a mantra in my mind?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. A mantra is a much easier and quicker way to focus your mind and to let go of all other things that you are thinking about. It can be used to reprogram your brain or simply just to bring your awareness up or just for peace of mind.Thanks!
QuestionWill this cure my psoriasis?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAbsolutely not. This is chanting, not medicine, and will not cure your psoriasis.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I already have a mantra (TM)?Community AnswerIf you already have a mantra then you should stick to it. The only reason why you would change it is because it has been several years later. TM works in stages of your body's age. So check with the person that you deal with and ask them if it has been changed because of your age now. If not then I would say stick to the one you have. There are websites that you can also check yourself. Just Google them to make sure that the one you were given fits. Generally they will always give you one according to your age, etc.Thanks!
QuestionIf my third eye opened without any effort on my part, what does that mean?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt could be that you had extensive experience with meditation in a previous life, so in this life, the practice comes very easily to you.Thanks!
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