Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation.
Japa is preparation for meditation in the same way that laying out and chopping ingredients is preparation for cooking. If the preparation is slap-dash and the mind is not focused on what the hands are doing, very often the dish being cooked will not satisfy; it will be incomplete somehow, in taste, appearance or substance.
Meditation cannot be fully satisfying if we lack single-pointed focus. To obtain this we need to trim the mind, ensure it is cleansed and as free of contamination as we can possibly make it. Japa is one methodology which has proven itself over the centuries for this purpose. In fact, japa can even be done whilst preparing for cooking! How so? Make each chop of the knife, each stir of the spoon a japa moment. In this manner japa focuses our mind on the task in hand. This is one of the key instructions for sadhaks, that each and every action be dedicated to the Higher and what better way can this be done than to make japa over the task, each movement calling upon the name of the Lord.
If you crochet or knit, make each stitch a japa count; if you draw or paint, make each stroke of pen or brush a japa count; if you dig in the garden or walk hills, make every lift of earth, every step, a japa count…
Japa ought to become so much a vaasana, such a habit, that when each task is done and there is little else to think about, instead of daydreaming or fretting over minimal matters, the japa will come forward and occupy the mind in order to keep it tidy. The japa will be ever present, ever ready to fill the vacuum once the important stuff is completed.
Sometimes this can result in others around saying that you look vacant. Those who do not know, may accuse you of daydreaming. Let them think what they will. If you think they will listen, introduce them to japa. It is a tool of mental presence and control and it is free! It must be executed with only the Higher in mind, though. Remember this. Going around chanting "ice cream, ice cream, ice cream" is a whole different invitation to trouble. Not without cause is it said, 'be careful what you wish for'. The power of spiritual energy is known by many but not necessarily understood. We unwittingly use 'japa' method when we continue to fret of something. In this manner worm-casts become speed bumps, mole-hills become mountains. If we work at something long enough, it looms large before us. We so readily 'chant' our worries and make of them more than they warrant. Imagine this same power working for the positive in life. Indeed, by chanting japa mantra, those very same small issues will inevitably melt away, or at least take on a proper perspective.
Be pure and clear about the chanting of japa and you cannot fail to rise, spiritually. At the very least you will find refreshed energy for tasks of the day, an increased level of attention to the detail and a sense of satisfaction that you have minimised the straying of your thoughts.
Beware! Even japa can become mundane if we do not pay attention. Do not rush. When preparing for meditation, leave all thoughts of the day outside the boundaries of your aasana. Take up the mala and practice the breathing exercise. Feel the first bead between your thumb and middle finger - press it hard if you need to, in order to make the mind pay attention. If you find it useful, visualise placing all unwanted thoughts outside the space in which you are sitting. They can be collected later. Consider this like leaving your shoes at the door.
Take a long, slow, inward breath. On the outward breath, allow A-U-M to come out from your depths.
To practice the AUM chant now, you may return to the vid-clip provided on 10th November post (click the relevant label on right side bar - remember this is not a static blog; you can flip back and forth and re-read et cetera). Note how the chant is unhurried, each syllable flowing into the next and a period of no sound as you take another in breath.
The silence between 'm' and the next 'a' is called as तुरीय/turiiya. We shall learn more of this in due course.
Enjoy the chanting. Allow it to reverberate within and around you. Submerge in the Other.