Thoughts on Mantra: Combating Tiredness During Japa
It is inevitable that the early stage sadhak (spiritual aspirant) feels the effects of mental and physical tiredness during mantra Japa (chanting).
The most auspicious time to chant any Vedic mantra is during the Brahmamuhurtha (the time of Brahma) – 2 hrs before sunrise. In India, this is between 3-4am. In the Western World, and more northern territories in general, the change of climate means that sunrise timings are variable between Summer and Winter and daylight hours change significantly, so some adjustment must be taken into account.
Western Culture is not oriented around early rising; in fact it is almost the opposite – most social activity for adults occurs in the evening. In this regard, it is incredibly difficult for those accustomed to such regimes to change.
The mind is a powerful device but the beginner will find it difficult to access its full potential. Sadhus (holymen) have long shown us that it is possible to go into deep trances of meditation for hours to days on end and go without sleep! But this is a stretch for a beginner and the initial problem is more that enthusiasm will begin to wane and thoughts wander, resulting in mental tiredness. Note that this is effectively the same for any mantra japa – whether bija or longer verse.
Here are some tips to stave off tiredness
- Eat lightly! A heavily meal will often send the sadhak to sleep while digestion kicks in!
- Stretch your muscles before sitting. This gets the blood flowing and avoids unnecessary fidgeting or physical discomfort.
- Get a good nights sleep. Needless to say, one must balance japa with the requirements of the day. Proper rest is essential to maintain both.
- Vary the speed of Japa. This helps to cut through the monotony. Slow down when you feel your concentration deepening. If you feel enthusiastic and more motivated toward your goal, then by all means speed up! The goal is to increase the intensity of japa to your own limits of concentration and focus; if you are inclined for a fast rousing speed then use it – eventually the mind will find a stillness on its own and you will automatically enter silent mental japa.
- Stand up! Do not feel that you must maintain one specific posture (asana) through out. If you’re tired and find yourself actually falling asleep, stand up! Move your body, rengage your enthusiasm with some japa out loud then resume as your previous asana once vigour returns.