Om Namah Shivaya Mantra Japa
Om Namah Shivaya is an ancient mantra used to awaken higher states of consciousness. The literal translation of these Sanskrit words means “I Bow To Shiva”.
The following notes are offered as suggestions to help you get the most out of japa, mantra repetition. They are extracted from teaching sessions given by Mark Griffin.
The value of your mantra repetition is proportionate to the attention you give to it as you do it. If you engage in mindless dry repetition, you will see far less benefit from this practice than its full potential holds. On the other hand, if you give rise to the internal feeling of bodhicitta, which is the yearning for enlightenment and Truth, and tune in to the silence of the Inner Self as you say the mantra, you will obtain tremendous results from doing japa. Your practice will be enhanced if you are also aware of the placement and color of each syllable as you recite them. It is not important how fast or slow you repeat the mantra. It is intention that makes all the difference.
The mantra Om Namah Shivaya can be analyzed according to the elements, chakras and colors:
OM arises at the sixth chakra, and is associated with the mind. The mind has no element. It is essentially a formless vortex of light.
NA arises at the root chakra at the base of the spine and is associated with the element of Earth and is yellow in color.
MA arises at the second chakra and is associated with the element of water and is green in color.
SHI arises at the third chakra at the navel and is associated with the element of fire and is red in color.
VA arises at the fourth chakra at the heart and is associated with the element of air and is white in color.
YA arises at the fifth chakra at the throat and is associated with the element of ether and is blue in color.
As you repeat the mantra, be aware of the placement of the syllables. Focus on NA at the root, MA at the second seat, SHI at the navel, VA at the heart and YA at the throat.
At the same time, be aware of their corresponding colors: yellow, green, red, white, and blue. The colors are not arbitrary, randomly selected or based on a feeling. Each element has as its basis a subtle atom. When you meditate very subtly, they appear to you as a scintillating atom. The atom sparkles with a shining yellow light at the root chakra. At the second chakra, you can see a brilliant green atom. At the third chakra, the fire element, the atom is a bright fire-engine orange-red. At the heart it is white like a sparkling star. At the throat the atom is blue. Remember, the elements have an intrinsic color – it’s not something invented.
As you do more japa, your attention will become more encompassing. You have to learn to think about many things at once: the sound of the vibration, the color and reaching within to feel for the heart-mind space of the bodhicitta – the essence of enlightenment already present within you. With practice, you’ll be able to learn to do it with one sweep of attention.
It’s like speed reading, where you learn to see the whole paragraph at once. It’s an exercise or skill that you develop. There is a muscle of simultaneous consciousness in the mind. Don’t be concerned by the effort it takes; just keep practicing and you will make steady progress. This is how to get the most from your japa: at the same time you are repeating the mantra you also strive to feel the intuitive, multi-layered, universal side of things. Experiment with it and enjoy the discovery.
There is a value to the constant repetition of mantra yoga because you can get in the flow of it and start taking intuitive leaps. It’s not something static that you bring a work ethic to because you get x-amount of credit for each mantra. The value comes from connecting the mantra to the Self. The more you can do that, the more powerful each mantra will be.
Once you get that flow of attention hooked up, it’s like you’re sitting on top of a fountain of energy and bliss that will never quit. Then the mantra does itself. You don’t do the mantra – the mantra does you.
One of the things that happens when you do a practice like this is that you’re resonating each of the elements and saturating them with the light of pure consciousness That in turn accelerates the purification of elements, which speeds up spiritual unfoldment. When you get all the chakras heated up and vibrating into each other through the attention you place in your mantra repetition, you get a thousand-fold response: once you get the mantra really cooking inside the system, what would have taken you a thousand days to do, you can do in one repetition of the mantra.
This kind of practice should be a constant companion because you are reaching with your attention and your higher will and blending that with the divine will. You are threading the vibration of the Self down into the more densely populated bodies of the physical body, the subtle physical body and the causal body, and infusing them with the vibration of pure consciousness. In that way, you are displacing the karmic content of the elements, so this becomes a very profound practice of clearing obstacles. Each repetition of the mantra is like a vehicle that is carrying one bucket load of the light of the Self and placing it in the elemental seat in each chakra.
It may seem like this would take a long time, but after a while that light of the Self begins to really build up, and soon you have an enormous amount of pure consciousness vibrating in each chakra.
It is a tremendously purifying energy. Once the chakras are completely purified, the true seats of the elements are revealed as nectars at the crown of the head. They exist in ecstatic equilibrium and become limitless.
Many people find it harder to connect with the three lower chakras. Mark explains about that in this way:
“The bottom three chakras are harder to focus on, and that is because your connection to them is subconscious and unconscious. They are more like the power turbines of the chakra system. All of the chakras have enormous energy but the lower chakras are like raw power, while the higher three chakras vibrate at the frequency of the ecstatic equilibrium.
That’s another reason why this practice of japa is valuable. It brings the vibration of the highest light into the root chakra, at the level of earth, which is what you’re really after. Instead of having all of these separate energies, they all become infused and integrated with the frequency of the Self. If you do each repetition of the mantra with feeling, giving rise to love and bodhicitta, the love of enlightenment, you’ll be able to draw down the light of the Self, the infinite consciousness, and flood each of the chakras and the elements.”
Note: The beads shown in the japa app are from the Rudraksha plant. Rudra is another name for Shiva, and aksha means eye. The rudraksha are known as the tears of Shiva, and are traditionally used in 108 bead malas or necklaces used for japa. The rudraksha beads have five faces, and Shiva is noted for five essential acts. 108 beads are shown before the Om Bead is reached, because 108 is a sacred number.