How to Use a Meditation Mala (Japa beads)
Bhakti yoga practice includes chanting the Hare Krishna mantra softly to oneself. This is called japa.
While chanting, one generally keeps the sacred japa beads in a bead bag to keep them clean and off the floor. One side of the bag is large enough to insert your hand. Your index finger coming out the smaller hole on the other side helps you hold on to the bag. Place your beads in the bag, and you’re ready to go.
Before we start to chant the Hare Krishna Mantra 108 times on the beads we should chant the Pancha Tattva mantra once before each round. This is a prayer to Lord Chaitanya and his associaties to help avoid offenses whilst chanting. Also In order to derive the full benefit of chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, we must first take shelter of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, learn the Pancha-tattva mantra, and then chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. That will be very effective. The Pancha-tattva mantra is:
The above Mantra means: I offer my obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, along with His associates, Lord Nityananda, Shri Advaita Acharya, Gadadhara, Shrivasa and all the devotees of the Lord.
Now to chant the Hare Krishna Mantra, the japa mala is traditionally held in the right hand. The index finger never touches the mala. Beginning with the bead next to the head bead, gently roll the bead between the thumb and middle finger of your right hand while chanting:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
The above Mantra means: “Oh Lord Krishna, Oh energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your devotional service.” This is a simple call to the Lord and His energies. It should be chanted exactly like a small child crying for it’s mother. The transcendental sound vibration of this mantra is the essence of all the Vedas and non-different from Lord Krishna personally.
Then move to the next bead and repeat the mantra.
In this way continue chanting on each of the 108 beads in the strand. This is known as one round of japa and takes between five and ten minutes for most people.
If you are going to chant more than one round of japa, then without chanting on the head bead (Krishna Bead) – reverse the direction of your chanting to begin the second round.
If you have a string of counter beads tied to your bead bag, keep track of the number of rounds you have chanted by moving one counter bead for each round you chant. One round equals to 108 beads.
Chant clearly and try to hear the holy names with attention. Some chanters find that looking at the mantra or a picture of Krishna helps them concentrate. If that works for you, that’s fine. But remember that the goal is attentive hearing.
The below video demonstrates on how to chant Hare Krishna on beads:-
You can also get chanting beads from any local ISKCON Hare Krishna Temple.
The Perfection of Mantra Meditation
This verse is from the ‘Bhagavad Gita As It Is’, it describes the perfection one can attain through practising mantra meditation.
“In the stage of perfection called trance, or samadhi, one’s mind is completely restrained from material mental activities by practise of yoga. This perfection is characterised by ones ability to see the self by the pure mind and to relish and rejoice in the self. In that joyous state, one is situated in boundless transcendental happiness, realised through transcendental senses. Established thus, one never departs from the truth, and upon gaining this he thinks there is no greater gain. Being situated in such a position, one is never shaken, even in the midst of greatest difficulty. This indeed is actual freedom from all miseries arising from material contact.” Bhagavad-gita As It Is 6.20-23.