At times, we feel vulnerable in the face of the unpredictable nature of a rapidly changing world. Watch the evening news; you can feel exposed, unsure if you and your loved ones will be safe. This has become a stark reality for the global population due to the recent pandemic and extreme weather events worldwide. We are bombarded with bad news, which seeds the mind with intrusive ideas that can disrupt our equilibrium and stability.
The individual who has discovered what it takes to manage the mind will be able to find inner peace, even in the midst of chaos. All is possible through the development of attaining peace of mind.
To begin this discovery, we do well to consider the very nature and process of thinking. Our goal is to manage our thoughts so they support rather than undermine our sense of peace and well-being.
One of the best ways to develop this ability is to gain mastery over our thoughts is to learn and practice deliberate thinking. This type of thinking differs from the mind wandering and rumination that typically occupies the mind.
HOW THE MIND WORKS
Pause momentarily and observe thoughts streaming like a river through your mind. One thought is followed by another thought and then another from morning until night. Not only are thoughts continuous in nature, they are also unpredictable. None of us can know for certain what our next thought will be. Each new thought has a unique connection to the thought that came before. When the next new thought arises, it will have done so because of some logical progression. Yet the context between one thought and the next is often based on a whimsical association. Thinking can be as unpredictable as a drop of water flowing down a cascading river. The movement of one water drop flows from one place to the next to the next. It’s anyone’s guess where one drop of water will end next.
Similarly, our thoughts can be difficult to detect until we learn how to be the still observer of our thoughts. If we lack an understanding of how the mind works as a flow of thoughts and how to navigate that flow, our thoughts can readily wander into “bad neighborhoods.” So many thoughts can be burdensome and drain our life force because they run contrary to our good nature and aspirations.
Suppose you’re driving and come to an intersection where the stoplight has just turned yellow. You stop safely, and your mind zeros in on the color yellow. From yellow, you begin to think of the sun; then you remember the sun’s warmth on your skin when you were lying on the beach in Waikiki last month. Then, your thoughts dwell on the fact that your bank balance took a serious hit from that vacation. Next, your thoughts are hijacked by a critical inner voice. You begin to chastise yourself for buying that expensive necklace in the gift shop at your hotel. Next thing you know, your mind is circling the drain.
This entire cascade of thoughts started with a yellow light. Each thought led to the next according to a logical flow. What will come after yellow — or any other thought — is a complete unknown. Even when we are deliberate in our thinking, we do not know what is coming next simply because thinking is always linear, one step at a time, one thought at a time. After one thought is complete, the next thought can be anything. In the example above, the connection between the initial thought (yellow) and what followed is not deliberate; it is random.
Japa meditation is an ancient and time-tested formula used by the wise sages of India. The practice of japa yoga or japa meditation is meant to quiet the mind and train the mind to be still and not agitated. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says, “Of all the activities for the mind, Japa is the most beneficial because of how efficiently it brings the mind to peace.”
If practiced over time, Japa also educates us about the ways of the mind and how to master “deliberate thinking”. Japa is a Sanskrit word that means to uplift the person by clearing extraneous thoughts from the mind. Japa practice is the repetition of a mantra or verse to help the mind enter and remain in a meditative state. The Sanskrit word for practice, sadhana, has many meanings; one is accomplishment through repetition. Through daily practice of mantra repetition, we can make positive changes in our daily lives.
We can experience firsthand how to gain and maintain peace of mind by studying and understanding the nature of the mind and learning how to choose our thoughts. This includes learning to recognize and let go of thoughts detrimental to our well-being before those thoughts take over the mind. Gradually, the mind becomes a tool for protecting our peace of mind. To the extent that this is true, we can say that we have the world in our hands.
THE POWERFUL TECHNIQUE OF JAPA MEDITATION
Japa involves the repetition of a mantra to keep the mind on a chosen track for a length of time. A simple Sanskrit verse is learned and chanted in easy Sanskrit pronunciation to draw the mind in to focus on how the sound syllables are made in the mouth until the mind becomes absorbed in the very sound. Repeating a mantra learned this way is a powerful remedy for relieving stress from a weary mind. When the mind is not fresh and sharp, it can become a reverie of distracted thoughts that loop into a downward spiral. To nip this in the bud, you need a reliable method to put the mind on a beneficial track. A significant intervention and powerful method is required to stabilize the unruly mind. Japa meditation is a wondrous tool with the sole purpose of attaining inner peace.
The following video teaches you how to chant the mantra Om as a Japa practice. You will learn to pronounce the word Om and chant it as a mantra. Om comprises three separate sounds — a-u-m, each pronounced in Sanskrit. Each sound is enunciated in the mouth with a unique shape to the mouth in keeping with the way that sounds are naturally produced in the various speaking faculties, including the lips, teeth, middle and back of the mouth, the upper and lower mouth, the throat, the larynx, the tongue, and the nose. Listen and learn how to pronounce Om in Sanskrit with correct pronunciation. You will see how earnest repetition of a simple mantra can quickly give you an absorbed meditative mind.