Last week we practiced ‘Ajapa japa’. Japa is defined as repetition of a mantra (sacred sound). Ajapa is spontaneity. Ajapa japa is spontaneous repetition of a mantra, there is no effort is such repetition. The repetition of the mantra results an incredible one-pointedness and mental fluctuations are soothed away (Yoga and Kriya – Swami Satyananda Saraswathi).
Why does a mantra bring about one-pointedness? If you analyze a day in your life, you will see that there are times when you are focused. The rest of the time the mind wanders pointlessly. Such wandering only tires the mind and it becomes more and more difficult to concentrate. With the uttering of the mantra, the mind is held from such straying. The mantra also constantly reminds you of the power that results in keeping the fluctuations of the mind to a minimality.
Are you wondering, did I miss my most important Yoga class? Fret not. The mantra is simple and that is the beauty of it. Mentally utter the sound ‘So’ (S-o-o-o-o) as you inhale and the sound ‘hum’ (H-a-m-m-m-m) as you exhale. These sounds are the natural sounds you would hear when you breathe. Also ‘So’ means Him and ‘hum’ mean the ‘I’ within you. Thus you are constantly saying ‘I am He’ and recognizing the power that resides in you. Think of this exercise as positive re-inforcement in you; it is only more divine.
[From a March 2006 email to students]