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Japa Meditation

Everyone has heard of chanting but most people don’t know what it’s all really about. Japa meditation is a form of relaxation where the deliberation is to focus completely on one word being repeated for a period of time. Everyone has heard of chanting but most people don’t know what it’s all really about.  There are different schools of thought as to what the best words should be to use in your Japa meditation, but as long as it has a positive impact on you individually, that is the most important consideration.

Japa meditation is widely practiced by Buddhists and Hindu’s, but many other Dharmic religions also use it as a form of relaxation and to reach a trance-like state. A well known Japa meditation word is “Aum”, and is pronounced “Ah-oo-mm”. When you repeat this word slowly again and again it actually causes a vibration through your entire head and is believed to be stimulating and relaxing for the brain. The word Aum is used to describe the universal energy of God and creator of life, and many people choose to use their own word for God or figure of worship in their own Japa meditations. The word you repeat is also referred to as a mantra.

Japa meditation is fantastic for groups to do, and whether you choose to whisper the word or say it more loudly, it all just blends in with every one else. Some believe that group Japa meditations allow for deeper relaxation and spiritual refection as the energy of the group amplifies the energy and deepens rumination. It can be more difficult to find the time and space for your personal Japa meditation sessions, and you probably don’t want the neighbors to hear the whole thing! A good idea could be to buy a CD or tape you can do your mantra too so it isn’t so obvious and you won’t feel as conspicuous.

If you are interested in learning to meditate you should definitely give consideration to Japa meditation techniques. You can achieve deep, blissful relaxation and will be surprised by how thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying an experience it will be. Some people like to do light Japa meditation while driving; simply repeating their chosen mantra to maintain relaxation and detachment from every day driving annoyances, or you can even do it in your lunch breaks.

You have probably seen people from Dharmic religions wearing wooden beads around there neck or wrist. These are mala beads, and are used for their Japa meditation.  Traditionally, the string consists of 108 small beads and one larger meru bead to mark the beginning or end. When doing a Japa meditation, they use the beads like a counter and twist them between their thumb and third finger, one time for each mantra repetition.  The beads assist in maintaining focus, and when they feel the large bead they begin back along the string in reverse without touching the meru. Interestingly enough this is not unlike the Hail Mary’s performed by those of the catholic religion.

Some Buddhist monks prefer to use words that have no meaning but are mantra sounds.  The reasoning behind this is that you can more easily clear your mind and reach a trance-like state if you aren’t aware of or taking into consideration the meaning you attach to the word. They also incorporate Japa meditation techniques into other practices such as walking meditations and active meditations.

If you already have a great appreciation of meditation, you should definitely give Japa meditation a try. It is an experience unique to each individual who practices it, and every chosen mantra should be personal, precious and positive. Japa meditation is a fantastic way to achieve a deep state of relaxation and oneness in a short amount of time, and once you get there you won’t want to return for quite sometime, so enjoyable is the experience.  As with all rumination practices, you will come away feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and reconnected with your life force and passions.

By Karen Basfield

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