Japa is a mental gym. It is a thought training which effectively strengthens the mind to collect,command and concentrate it’s wild and unruly thoughts into a desired single focused pattern. It helps the mind to constantly hold onto a single thought at will to the exclusion of all other “dissimilar thought currents.” This exercise of trying to fix the mind at a single point for some length of time, and hooking it there, builds a mental capacity which gives wings to the mind in meditation.
Don’t waste your time and postpone Japa for later years. Swami Chinmayanandaji said, “Start Japa even in a hospital. Don’t wait till you come out, you may be carried out!” Every moment is sacred, precious and auspicious to begin spiritual practice. “Japa is an easy method for men like us, kicked about and bullied by the worlds, without and within .”
This is not a physical act of telling the beads and muttering some mumbo-jumbo, it is a mental act of taxiing your mind faster and faster into the deepest recesses of your being. It has to be an all out effort of intense longing and surrender at the feet of your Lord, not a mechanical and habitual rendering of some sounds while the mind is enchanted away into wayward thought currents which could make a practitioner psychologically ugly.
Forced Japa causes suppression of tendencies and fatigue, which in turn erupts in bouts of anger, often witnessed soon after Japa. Begin slowly, one mala a day, and then gradually move forward. The attempt is not more malas speedily done, but even one mala, but done with an earnest attempt to maintain a fixed line of divine thinking. Done regularly, intelligently and sincerely, it empowers the mind to achieve rare meditative flights.
Prarthna Saran, President Chinmaya Mission New Delhi.