Phase One of Mental Japa

Phase One of Mental Japa

After one sits down in the correct posture, with the body relaxed and the diaphragmatic breathing established by doing alternate nostril breathing, one gets into the flow of the breath.

The flow of the breath may be experienced along the path of the breath from the navel to the nostrils, or it may be felt only in the nostrils, just as one does when reciting the word, the universal mantra, “so-ham”, before receiving a mantra in initiation.

Feel the flow of the breath as cautiously as when practicing the word so-ham – no jerks, no breaks but a smooth flow of breath, a silent flow with no pause between the breaths. Elimination of a pause between the breaths is the most difficult part of the process, because that is the door through which external thoughts enter the mind; not through the pauses. So exhale and immediately inhale, smoothly and slowly.

One experiences the mantra along with the feel of the breath. Some one-word mantras or bija mantras (seed words) pose no problem. But there are mantras that are a little longer with five letters, 12 letters or syllables or more.

Those who are not initially familiar with them have difficult with these long mantras. So, they are advised to remain aware of the flow of the breath: let the mantra come in whatever way it comes with the breath. It may be divided over several breaths. Do not try to synchronize. In case your mantra is, “Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya”, you may want to do namo while exhaling or bhagavate while inhaling, vasudevaya while exhaling, and so on. Thus you let is flow, on word merging into the next because of the breath and the touch of breath in the nostrils, or on the pathway of the breath from the navel to the nostrils, unless given some other method by the preceptor.

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