Practicing mantra meditation is considered one of the easiest ways to meditate. With more and more research showing how beneficial meditation is, I recommend choosing to start with a mantra or japa meditation practice over other types of meditation like zen, mindfulness or vipassana. From my years of practicing chanting, I have a few tips to offer you that will make this style of meditation easier for you which in turn will make you more successful at establishing meditation as a healthy habit.
To start a mantra chanting practice, try to embrace it as a daily practice. Like all meditation practices, it’s indeed advised to let things progress in a way that is inspired by joy but also infused with a little bit of discipline and willpower. Of course, if we go straight for the hardcore approach like I’m going to do 108 rounds of the long and complicated Gayatri mantra for the next six months, that’s a big task and probably we going to be a little bit unprepared for that sort of commitment. If you take on too much too quickly, you are likely to build up a little bit of resistance towards the practice, which is not something we want to. Meditation is something that we want to turn to as a joy, as something that we love to do, not something that we have to do.
My recommendation is to start small so that you can be successful. Even if you begin by chanting the bija mantra Om nine times, and then after a little while, a few days or a week, chant Om 27 times and stick with that for a while, always leaving a little bit of silence at the back end, from 27, moved to 54 and from 54 ultimately, move towards 108 rounds of the Om mantra.
It will be really helpful to find a place in a physical location that you can come to each day to practice your mantra meditation. Whether that’s somewhere in your room, or a quiet corner of your living room, just find a spot that is setup and ready to use for your meditation. you don’t have to set up a shrine or anything like that but you may find that is helpful to create your meditation space. If you cannot find a quiet place indoors, depending on where you live, it could be someplace outside in nature. The main thing is that it should be the same place that you make just for your chanting.
I would recommend to try and do your meditation at the same or similar time each day so that it becomes a habit. This way your meditation practice starts to cut pathways of habituation, positive pathways into your nervous system. The best time for meditation is in the hour or so leading up to the sunrise. That is when the energetics of the planet are most conducive to profound meditative experiences. Just before the sun wakes up we get this moment of life at its most calm and most tranquil and the mind can tap into that through meditation and certainly through mantra meditation.
Another thing to try is that when we are chanting out loud as a vocal mantra, try chanting all of the syllables of the mantra, and see the vibration mantra, or imagine that mantra, feel it moving from the base of the spine all the way to the top of your head. You can also inhale the arms up to the throat and then exhale through the top of the head, and with the exhale through the top of the head.
Lastly, I recommend using a Hindu rosary or Buddhist prayer beads to keep track of your mantra chanting. There are many resources to understand how to use meditation beads for chanting, so I will not discuss this here.
Over time mantra chanting becomes an internal practice, but the trajectory of the mantra stays the same. These tips should be enough to get you started with a little bit of mantra practice. If you need ideas for choosing a mantra for your chanting practice, check out this video below for some popular mantras: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxle7VLcgyg