There are two types of mantra meditation, Japa and Kirtan. Japa is a quiet and personal meditation where one chants on beads. Kirtan, on the other hand, is the singing of mantras with others, often with musical instruments.
Japa is counted on a japa mala, the sanskrit word for prayer beads. These beads are used to count the number of mantras chanted. One chants the Hare Krishna mantra on each of the 108 beads of the mala to complete ‘a round’. The focus while chanting is to hear the sound of the mantra. If the mind wanders to other thoughts (which it will!) gently bring it back to the mantra. Though one can chant japa at any time of the day, the morning hours around dawn are recommended. The stillness and peace compliment focused and contemplative chanting.
Kirtan is another way to practice mantra meditation. There are lots of types of kirtan. Some can be quiet and soothing, some more energetic with various musical instruments.
The Hare Krishna mantra is made up of three words – Hare, Krishna, and Rama:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
“Hare”, “Krishna” and “Rama” are all names used in the Vaishnava tradition that refer to God and His energies. Because God is spiritual and all-powerful if someone chants His name then they will become purified – materially and spiritually. This chanting is also considered a form of prayer whereby the devotee is appealing to the Lord to please engage the devotee in the Lord’s service.
We chant the Hare Krishna mantra to draw out the spiritual happiness that is inside all of us, and to develop our Bhakti Yoga.