Monday Morning Greetings 2018 #27 – The Yoga of Talking to Yourself

July 2nd, 2018

Listen to the sincerity of your chanting. Go deeper in your meditation. Other thoughts may come, but don’t follow them. As I guide people in japa meditation seminars, I have observed how effectively submitting to a comforting voice of authority helps one cross the mental blocks of distraction and seep into deeper states of awareness and concentration. From doing this I have also realized how much activating my own inner voice has helped guide my own chanting. More and more I find myself talking to myself during my morning meditation.


Talking to yourself? Isn’t that a distraction? Before continuing this discussion, I think it is necessary in general to consider the concept of “voice” in relation to chanting.


I heard a somewhat interesting example to illustrate this. Have you ever walked through the famous Loi Bazaar shopping area in Vṛndāvana when a shopkeeper in a squeaky voice calls out “Haribol, prabhu!”? What do you hear? Do you hear the holy name or someone asking for your money? What we say carries more than just syllables; it carries our heart. And more than anything that is what Krishna hears when we chant His holy name.


Another good example of “voice” in chanting is the phrase I used at the very beginning of the article: “Listen to the sincerity of your chanting.” This originally came from Śrīla Prabhupāda. What was he asking us to listen to in our chanting, if not our heart, or own voice, begging Krishna for service?


A bit surprisingly I also found a verse in the Yoga Sūtras that recommends activating the mind, at least in terms of mantra meditation. Patañjali says taj-japas tad-artha-bhāvanam, which means we should dwell on the meaning of the mantra when meditating on it.


I could go on and on with references and examples about the relationship between our inner voice and mantra meditation, but back to the original thesis of talking to yourself while chanting. Just as we have a natural voice in chanting that arises from the heart, I find it helpful, especially in the beginning of my chanting, to consciously activate the voice of my intelligence in order to tell my mind in as comforting and authoritatively voice as possible where to go, so to speak. Here are some of my favorite commands and what they mean.


Chant and hear every syllable. Perfect your mantra one mantra at a time. When we perfect a mantra by carefully chanting and hearing every syllable we get the fruit of that mantra. The Hare Krishna mantra is a yugala mantra, a divine love or devotion mantra, and when perfected brings devotion into the heart.


Vibrate the mantra in every pore of your body. Feel the mantra. Mantra means God is sound. Hearing and feeling the vibration of the Hare Krishna mantra is thus direct communion with God.


Listen to the sincerity of your chanting and go deeper into your meditation. The Hare Krishna mantra is also a prayer begging for the mood of service to Śrī Śrī Radha and Krishna.


Chant as sweetly as possible for Krishna hears our chanting and gets pleasure from it. The Śikṣāṣṭakam describes the holy name as having all śaktis. Energy comes from a source to please its source. Krishna’s śaktis, especially within the holy name, are thus pleasing to Him. Every syllable should be therefore offered as beautifully as possible as a direct personal offering, like the petal of a flower, at the lotus feet of Śrī Krishna.


Cry for Krishna. Śrīla Prabhupāda said we should chant as a child crying for his mother. Śrī Caitanya chanted deeply in the mood of separation, crying for Krishna.


Niyamitaḥ smaraṇe na kālaḥ. There are no hard and fast rules for chanting the holy name. These are some of the ways in which I amplify my heart and inner voice to direct my mind to the holy name. The best method is what personally helps you to hear and feel the holy name. Meditation doesn’t start at samādhi any more than you can start a car in fourth gear. These are just some of the ways I rev up my attention to achieve increased focus on the holy name.


One more thing: Offer your heart to Krishna and tell Him what you want. The language that Krishna understands is the mahā-mantra. The holy name is a thus a conversation with God.


And that is The Yoga of Talking to Yourself.




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