By Ananda Vrindavaneswari Devi Dasi
Chanting Krishna’s name in mantra meditation is a concentrated effort. Although we remember Krishna here and there throughout the day, japa is a focused and full immersive experience in hearing the holy name.
The invitation to japa is to listen. To listen to the sound of the mantra through our own voice chanting it. Just hear, Prabhupada once said, Just hear yourself chant sincerely.
Our mind and body tend to get restless with extended listening to the mantra. The body may ache as we sit, or get distracted if we are japa walking. We gently tolerate and ignore the body discomfort and return to hearing. If walking, we pull back from distraction by keeping our eyes focused and not roaming. We draw on patience as we hold ourselves to the commitment of a number of rounds or an amount of time.
Our mind can be even more restless than our body. It has multiple rabbit holes of needs, interests, and desires that it scampers down while we are trying to hear. We pull it back again and again. Gently. Let the sound of the name, the touch of the beads, recenter the mind. Take one mantra at a time and be present to it.
Our time with japa is super important. A serious student of bhakti, the practice of self-realization in relationship with Krishna, will take a vow to chant a set number of rounds every day. Making a vow is one thing, and practicing with focused attention is another.
With affection and kindness keep bringing the mind and body back to japa. Expect them to want to be somewhere else. But know that the satisfaction and sweetness of the holy name, which is invested with all spiritual potency, is where they really want to be.