Mantra writing is one of my favourite methods of sadhana. It is a powerful technology for aligning one’s mind body and soul with one goal.
It is also extremely flexible – one can take up sadhana to write any mantra (unless of course expressly instructed not to for reasons of secrecy by one’s Guru).
Mantra writing…how many, how quickly?
I am frequently asked how many times one should write a mantra to attain a goal. The answer is identical to how many times they would chant it. Ideally, one should strive to complete a puruscharan over time. Of course it takes longer to write than chant, so aspirants often cut the number down to an anusthan.
The scriptures say that anyone writing a mantra 10 million times (1 crore) will attain anything they are looking for.
Start slow and build up
My personal advice is to begin slowly – write a page or 108x of a short mantra – preferably a bija. Rama is the absolute ideal as it has immense power to overcome all negativity, obstacles, karma and problems in your life.
Then once a routine is set, increase this by a page a day. If enthusiasm takes you, there is no harm in writing more! But try to keep a steady minimum for daily writing.
Motivation is key
Rama is preferred as the mantra is a perfect compromise between the abstract (like Om or Soham, Aham Brahmasmi etc) and the conceivable (picture Lord Rama and all his perfect qualities).
However, if this still plots a path which is beyond your near term requirements, then by all means focus your needs on mantras like Kleem or Shreem for material benefits.
In any case, divinising one’s goals or placing the fruit of your labour at the feet of the Guru will undoubtedly pull you quickly to your destination.
The mind and body are related
Scientists have begun to explore the concept of the mind-body connection. This means that one’s actions and the positioning of one’s physical body has a direct influence on your mental state. Very simply, if you act depressed, you will feel depressed. If you act enthusiastic and full of energy, you will feel that way.
The idea is known as physiology.
How can we leverage this with mantras?
I have already written on pranayama – click here to read the prior article. This is to control the breath in order to rein-in the mind.
Let us take this idea one step further: given the linkage between mind and body, any mental sadhana can also be accompanied by a physical one.
This is powerful idea. Increasing levels of mental discipline will also self-perpetuate physical discipline and vice versa. Think about it!
A new 40 day challenge
I am hopeful that many of you at least attempted to maintain some idea of longer-term sadhana post Navaratri. It is an important discipline to maintain.
Those of you who benefited will undoubtedly want more! Now I propose that those readers interested in gaining a big boost to their physical vitality combine a mantra sadhana with a physical one: hit the gym or run, or do some exercise in direct proportion to the time you spend meditating.
As your physical strength and endurance grows, so will your concentration and determination to do more toward your spiritual path. The reverse is also true.
Even the ancient Rishis knew this! Many of them are well known for their epic travels across India and abroad – they knew the value of movement and physical exercise. Those that did not undoubtedly practised physical forms of yoga. A healthy body is directly conducive to a healthy mind!
Is there really a downside to this??
The downside is of course that you sacrifice your time in order to do so. It will require you to sacrifice sleep to wake up that 15-30mins earlier in order to work out or exercise before bathing and beginning your sadhana. But is this really a sacrifice given the benefits?
In the modern era, everyone knows that consistent exercise can stave off a great many illnesses and ailments. Over time, it is undoubted that your lifespan will increase due to the dedicated effort to exercise in earlier periods.
Do not miss this opportunity; start now and try it for 40 days!
Is the spirit willing but the flesh weak? Mantras can help!
For those interested but lacking motivation, I would recommend reading my prior post on using the four Agni devatas to generate the passion and enthusiasm you are looking for! Click here.
Focusing between the eyes is difficult
A common practice in mantra japa is to focus one’s inner vision on the space between the eyes on the forehead.
If accompanied by a physical focus, this may result in eyestrain for many aspirants.
There is an alternative
An alternative method of focusing one’s mind is to control your breathing. This process is known as the concept of pranayama.
There are 5 pranas in the body (vital forces). It is not necessary to go into too much detail on their function but in essence they are the energy flows throughout the body which regulate bodily functions. When controlled, they allow one to tap into your inner power and open the gates of the mind during meditation.
In fact, it is this heightened level of concentration which leads to powerful siddhis manifesting in the aspirant.
Many methods, one goal
A simple method of controlling one’s breathing is simply to watch and regulate it consciously.
1. Relax and take deep breaths to calm the mind initially.
2. Start Japa and establish a rhythm.
3. Then attempt to say one or two mantras mentally while inhaling and 1-2x more mantras exhaling. Your exhale is longer than the inhale and so you will naturally end up reciting more mantras.
4. Repeat until the mind stills and then delve deeper into more focused meditation.
This is just one way. You can vary this as you wish according to your own needs but the point is the same – control your breath to control the mind.
I would strongly suggest you learn more advanced techniques through a qualified yoga instructor or with the supervision of a practising Guru.
The Next Stage of Japa Yoga
For those that are no longer dabbling in Mantra Yoga and wish to move into more advanced territory, one should attempt to adhere to the five stages of Japa:
- Vaikhart. Chant the mantra out loud.
- Upamsu. Then repeat the mantra in a hushed whisper such that the person next to you could not distinguish the words.
- Madhyama. Now progress to mental Japa. Envision the mantra vibrating with the Heart Chakra, with its 108 flows of prana emanating from it.
- Pasyamti. Envision the mantra vibrating the Naval Chakra. It is not uncommon to see the mantra in words at this stage, once sufficiently advanced.
- Para. Now descend into perfect silence. The mind should now be calm, clear and completely empty. Merge into the silence of peace.
Will yourself to focus!
Chant slowly, clearly and feel each word of the mantra. Contemplate its meaning and will yourself to concentrate at first to cut through the whimsical movements of thought.
These steps allow the aspirant to move from beginner to intermediary very quickly.