The benefits of mantra Japa cannot be described fully in words. One has to delve into this sweet Ocean to experience. In my life all blessings and illumination has come by power of mantra Japa. I find mantras are like weapons.
They create vibrations to break through obstacles, destroy enemies, attract situations, manifest wealth, invoke a deity etc. depending on the mantra you choose and this happens due to the power of the Sanskrit chants and our intentions. Vedic mantras were not created by man.. they were given to us by the divine. They are more powerful than a prayer in regular language as Sanskrit is the language of the Gods.
Japa is the repetition of a mantra. Japa is often practiced with a mala or rosary. A mala has 108 beads. One bead is larger that the others, this is called Meru. Meru is the guiding bead that indicates that you have completed one round or 108 beads of a particular mantra.
How to use a japa mala ?
There are three ways of practicing japa:
• Vaikhari Japa is the loud verbal repetition.
• Upamsu Japa is whispering or humming of the mantra.
• Manasika Japa is mentally remembering your mantra. This is the most potent and powerful way of practicing japa. If this is too difficult, alternate with Upamsu or Vaikhari japa.
Tips for Mantra japa
Do not cross the Meru bead. When you come to the Meru bead, turn back and this last bead becomes the first bead of the next round.
When using a mala the thumb and the middle finger should be used to roll the beads. Some people keep the mala inside a chanting bag which I think is to not draw attention of others to your Sadhana.. however some books say that it is imperative to do this. I personally do japa without a bag.
Using a mala helps you to have focus on the mantra and also a gives you a target to achieve a fixed number of counts every day. I find that most mantras make you feel wonderful once you complete 108 count.
Some people practice Ajapa japa which is silent chanting of mantra throughout the day while performing their regular activities. This is not easy to do, but for those who do it, it generates massive amount of energy which they can utilise to fulfil their desires.