A mantra is a word or phrase which are often repeated in Sanskrit while counting beads on a japa mala necklace. Reciting a mantra during meditation can help develop concentration, patience, and awareness. These words often have deep spiritual meaning to the individual and are meant to be cleansing in nature. By using these mantras, it is thought that our minds will become more similar to nature of the mantra one is reciting. The phonetic sounds of the Sanskrit language are thought by some to manifest different effects within the body and mind.
The word ‘mantra’ holds its roots in the two Sanskrit words ‘manas’ which means mind, and ‘tara’ which means ‘to cross the mind’.
Directions For Using a Mala for Japa Mantra Recitation
- Go to wherever you might normally meditate, or if you don’t have such an area, go to a quiet and comfortable place.
- Depending on the tradition, there are a few different ways to hold a mala. A common way is to hold it with your right hand while hanging the mala over your middle finger. However, in other areas, it is held around the ring finger. The index finger is usually avoided as it is thought to represent ego.
- Traditionally, japa mantra recitation was usually done with eyes closed, but you can do it with your eyes open if you prefer.
- Relax yourself, and then begin chanting your mantra out-loud in repetition. Usually you would want to keep the same speed and pronunciation but don’t focus on it this to much, as with time and practice it will begin to happen on it’s own. Each time you repeat your mantra, slide your thumb onto the next mala bead.
- Typically a mala has 108 beads in addition to a larger guru bead. Once you hit the guru bead, if you wish to do more recitations, simply slide your thumb in the reverse direction, being mindful not to count or slide over the guru bead.