Mental chanting

srila-prabhupada-japa-bw-380x500I’m in a spiritual slump, while at the same time not being in a spiritual slump. Sounds contradictory? Well, it is for me. I’m a bit devoid of inspiration, while at the same time there are things I’m working on and I see changes. I don’t understand how I can feel I’m in a slump while I still move forward, but there it is. My life and understanding don’t need to make sense always.

I’ve been trying to practice chanting mentally. The goal is chanting 64 rounds, which of course is a bit hilarious since I’m not chanting the recommended 16. So a little search gave me what Paramahamsa Yogananda (which is a hatha-yoga guru) has said:

The five states of chanting are:

  1. chanting aloud
  2. whisper chanting
  3. mental chanting
  4. subconscious chanting
  5. superconscious chanting

I’m well versed in the first and second, but the third one is the one I’m working on. I’ve never much liked mental chanting because it’s just so slow. Whisper chanting has been nice because it’s faster and then I can think all this nonsense while my mouth is chanting.

What the 4th and 5th states are, I have no idea. Sounds mystic.

So I’ve been trying to chant mentally for about a week. The first times took me 10 minutes to finish a round and it was so painful. My mind was so slow. The tongue was so much faster than my mind, how could that be? I had to bite my tongue sometimes, so that I wasn’t chanting with it.

It became obvious how connected my mind is to my body. It’s strange when the mind takes so much longer time than the tongue. A thought is lightning fast, so the mantra shouldn’t be like sticky glue to chant. I didn’t know that the mind was so resisting of it.

A whisper chanting takes about 7 minutes and 40 seconds. After a week I’m down to mentally chanting in 7 minutes and 30 seconds which is faster. Great !

The inspiration to chant mentally came from a facebook group on how to chant 64 rounds.  It stated that whisper chanting is actually kirtan and that mental chanting is the way to go. The goal is to chant mentally until there is no space in the maha mantra and it should take 5 minutes. Thereby you can finish 64 rounds in 5 hours and 20 minutes.

Why do I mention all these numbers? Because for me this is a way to measure progress and keep myself inspired. It’s a way to keep on working on the goal. I know that what we really want to inspire is the feelings behind these practices, but I know nothing of that and I have no control of that either. I leave that to my Gurudeva and the parampara. I just have to show up to the practice, and they will just have to do the changes on me if they want.

Do you have any recommendations or experiences in your mental chanting?


8 thoughts on “Mental chanting

  1. That quickly 🙂

    I’m working towards it. Yesterday I was at 4 seconds. Today at 3.68. So it’s moving slowly forward. Even days I feel are slow, I’m quicker than the day before.

  2. 🙂

    I haven’t tried mental japa in a while, but if I don’t focus on the watch, at least in the beginning to get on track, one round takes me 20 minutes. The time doesn’t matter for me since I chant for a set time rather than a set number of rounds anyway. But 20 minutes indicate that I’m distracted.

  3. Well, I chant even though I focus on other things, so for me the key is to not do other things. For me I find that mental chanting makes me hear the mantra better. Sometimes I have to chant while my son watches to kid TV, so then I listen to the TV by default while chanting. Mental chanting helps me chant even if there are distractions around me.

  4. I can somehow have the mantra going mentally and still think of other things. The moments when I remember that the maha mantra is in the vocative case (O Krsna! O Rama!) it works. If you’re actually calling, you won’t think of other things, at least in that moment.

  5. I have experienced the same thing where the mind has two threads. One background thread is chanting the mantra, the other mind go about doing its business. I’m thinking that might be point nr. 4 up there, subconscious chanting.

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