Since wondering what the difference between meditation and japa is (if you look past the whole potency of Gods names), I’ve come to understand that what I’m really searching for is techniques. In meditation there usually is some techniques involved – sitting posture, breathing and of course, dealing with the mind.
If you look at meyer-briggs personality types, I’m an INTJ which translates to analytical problem solvers (if you read to the end of the intj link you will see the statement that intj’s are least likely of all the types to believe in a higher spiritual power). So it only comes natural to me to approach spiritual life as a system I need to crack. Sadhana is about service, but also about developing feelings of attachment, taste and love through service. In these different levels of feelings, there is symptoms that categorize on what level you are, so there is a system to spiritual life that sings to me. Feelings doesn’t really translate itself to me – but systems on the other hand is something I can work on.
So if I approach Japa meditation as techniques (aka a system), I have found these techniques so far on my japa journey:
1. Reject any thoughts that are unfavorable for japa. For example, if you think chanting is hard, it will become hard.
2. Put any thoughts not related to Krishna on the side for the japa session. When chanting the mind start roving about, but leave those thoughts to the side and instead treat the japa session as a conversation with Krishna.
3. Record activities in a weekly diary
In a comment by Syamanada Prabhu, he mentions that we’re to hear each syllable of each mantra for the whole japa session. This can be labeled as a consequence of Japa. When I leave the thought that chanting is hard, I’ve experienced that chanting flows on its own accord and is actually dragging me along as long as I don’t interfere with it. Is that a consequence of Japa, or is it part of the labor? Or may be, it is a symptom?
So we have the job itself (japa), a few techniques, symptoms and consequences attached to Japa meditation. So I now can try to categorize japa and how it works within these categories. Also, to record activities in a weekly diary doesn’t qualify as a technique, but more as a measuring stick.
Then we have the whole namabhasa and aparadhas, which I haven’t even touched upon. I’ve only begun the work on deciphering this japa system, but I think I have understood the right way for me to approach the understanding of it.