Japa (the repetition of mantras)
Japa is the repetition of a word or phrase, this may be in the form of a mantra. Japa mantra is usually recited in Sanskrit.
It is common for japa mantras to be repeated 108 times, an auspicious number in yogic traditions. Mala beads made from 108 beads, plus one larger bead, are often used to practice japa in this way.
Japa Deep Dive
Japa mantra is a spiritual practice in which a mantra is repeated silently or aloud. The repetition of a mantra is believed to help focus the mind and lead to a deeper state of meditation.
An example of this is the use of ‘Oṃ‘ or Bija mantras:
‘Oṃ’ is the mantra famously associated with yoga. “This whole world is that syllable!” states the Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad (475.77), referring to it as the sound from which our universe emerged. Reciting it can be described as connecting the practitioner to all that is.
Oṃ’s vibration is said to have a silent echo, “the sound of the space within the heart,” Maitrī Upaniṣad (6.22).
Bija translates to ‘seed’, its meaning is metaphorical, representing the origin of all things. Bija mantras are the seed sounds/ syllables of the Sanskrit language. Each sound does not translate to a word, but are thought to represent levels of emotional and spiritual transformation.
Bija mantras are believed to have a powerful and transformative effect on the mind and body when chanted or repeated in meditation.
Each bija mantra can be repeated on its own, or in combination with others. It is common for 3 or 7 of the bija mantras to be used together:
Om is the most well-known bija mantra and is considered the root of all mantras.
It is believed to represent the sound of the universe and is associated with the crown chakra. Chanting “Oṃ” is said to help connect one with the divine consciousness and promote spiritual growth.
Hrim bija mantra is associated with the goddess Shakti, the divine feminine energy. It is believed to represent the power of creation and is associated with the heart chakra. Chanting “Hrim” is said to promote love, compassion, and inner harmony.
Shrim bija mantra is associated with the goddess Lakshmi, the deity of wealth and prosperity. It is believed to represent abundance and is associated with the sacral chakra. Chanting “Shrim” is said to promote material and spiritual prosperity.
Krim bija mantra is associated with the god Kali, the fierce and powerful goddess of transformation. It is believed to represent the power of destruction and is associated with the root chakra. Chanting “Krim” is said to help overcome fear, negativity, and obstacles.
Ram bija mantra is associated with the god Rama, the embodiment of virtue and righteousness. It is believed to represent courage and is associated with the solar plexus chakra. Chanting “Ram” is said to promote self-confidence, inner strength, and positive energy.
Yam bija mantra is associated with the god Vishnu, the preserver of the universe. It is believed to represent balance and harmony and is associated with the throat chakra. Chanting “Yam” is said to promote communication, self-expression, and emotional balance.
Om Namah Shivaya
This bija mantra is associated with the god Shiva, the deity of transformation and destruction. It is believed to represent the union of the individual soul with the universal consciousness and is associated with all chakras.
Chanting “Om Namah Shivaya” is said to promote spiritual awakening, inner peace, and liberation.
The Gayatri mantra is often used as a japa mantra, and it is considered one of the most important mantras in yogic traditions.
Repeating the Gayatri mantra with devotion and concentration is believed to have many benefits, including increasing spiritual growth and removing negative karma.
The Gayatri mantra is also believed to have the power to purify the mind and soul, and to awaken the inner wisdom and intuition.
The Gayatri mantra is a sacred Vedic chant that is considered one of the most powerful mantras in Hinduism. It is a verse from the Rig Veda, one of the oldest Hindu scriptures, and is addressed to Savitr, the Sun deity. The mantra is as follows:
Om Bhur Bhuvaḥ Swaḥ
Bhargo Devasya Dhīmahi
Dhiyo Yonaḥ Prachodayāt
The mantra is often translated as:
“We meditate on the glory of the Creator; Who has created the Universe; Who is worthy of Worship; Who is the embodiment of Knowledge and Light; Who is the remover of all Sin and Ignorance; May He enlighten our Intellect.”Rig Veda 3.62.10
Japa In Your Life
Japa mantra can be practiced in a variety of ways, including silently repeating the mantra in the mind, chanting it aloud, or using a mala, or prayer beads, to keep track of the number of repetitions.
Some practitioners also choose to use a specific object, such as a picture or statue, as a focal point while chanting the mantra.
The practice of japa mantra is believed to have a number of benefits for the mind, body, and spirit. It is said to help reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and concentration, and bring about a sense of peace and tranquility.
Japa mantra is also believed to help purify the mind and bring about spiritual growth.
The repetition of the mantra is said to help clear the mind of negative thoughts and emotions, and to help practitioners connect with their inner selves and the divine. This in turn can lead to the attainment of a higher level of consciousness and spiritual enlightenment.
There are also specific guidelines to follow when practicing japa mantra. One should chant the mantra with devotion and concentration, without any distractions or interruptions. It is important to chant the mantra correctly, with the proper pronunciation and intonation.
How do you use japa in your yoga practice?
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More on Meditation:
What Is A Chakra Meditation?
What Is A Bodhisattva?
What Is Japa?
What Is Vipassana?
What Is The Maha Mantra?
What Is Japa Mala?
What Is Sadhana?
What Is A Loving-Kindness Meditation?
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