Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation
For the next stage of our investigation on meditation, we are going to study - and practice! - japa as a means to tame the mind and we shall investigate the Gayatri Mantra.
Regularity and sincerity are the secrets to success, whether that be in spiritual pursuits or occupational. In our careers, we get nowhere by simply 'treading water' or looking for others to do the work for us.
Watch that monkey mind does not steal off with your focus; strengthen the mind against all pointless distraction, excessive desires, selfishness and passions. Become aware of how easily the mind would bind itself to these things; also to happenings of others and circumstances in which it need not involve itself. No matter how many times we are told of this, the mind is a thief and a spy and readily attaches to the world. Thus, during japa, we have to be ever alert to the unintelligent wanderings this little monkey!
Gather the best of yourself and offer it to the japa, as if in worship of this act of worship itself. This will invoke all the best out of the japa and bring its blessings upon the japist. When graced in this way, meditation comes also, as if by second nature.
It is the case, then, that effectiveness of japa saadhana is as much dependent upon the intention and surrender within the seeker as upon the physical act of rolling the beads and reciting a mantra. Indeed, it could be said of much in life, that intention is everything. When surrender is mentioned, don't think either that this has to be some kind of over-emotive, sentimental bowing and scraping or such. Spiritual surrender is not dramatic in the least, but a simple slipping from the sense of 'me' to a sense of 'we' as it becomes clear that we must join with the Higher Essence in order to heal. Prostration, though, is difficult for some, even a foreign concept to many - partly because it has been misused over history in terms of servitude and slavery. Lose all notion of this in regard to spiritual pursuit, however. Know that surrender here, is no sacrifice at all, but is in fact one of the most freeing things you can ever do.
Take, for example, a typical Iishta-mantra; Om Sri Rama NamaH, or Om Namo Naaraayana, let's say. The namo or namah here means 'my prostrations'. Hence, To the Glory of Rama I prostrate, or In Glory, my prostrations to Naaraayana. In Sanskrit culture and modern Indian society also, it is standard to bow to one's elders and to priests and before the images of the Higher in the multifarious forms - hence the usage in the mantras. However, it is not simply about keeping the head lower than those considered socially higher, it is also about making the heart humble and the intellect supple. Prostration at the mental level is about discovering the deeper, greater part of ourselves, identifying with our better nature. Through this form of surrender we tune ourselves with nobler intention and higher values.
The very nature of prostration says that there has to be a sense of lower and higher. We all of us identify with our ego personality and it is this which baulks at the concept of surrender, for the ego never permits us to think of ourselves as being 'lower'. What must be understood, however, is that within us there is also the Higher Essence, obscured by the presence of the ego. The only way to see H.E. is to drop the 'me'!
This is the purpose of the japist; to overcome the lower, ego-self, in order to unveil the Higher Essence, the supreme Divine Self. The mantra is but a formula which not only tells of the devotion to the Higher, but tells how to reach to that Essence - through surrender.
Continue to practice aasana, breathwork and beadwork. Do not let up on daily practice. Make japa a part of life such that it is sorely missed when not there.