5 Simple Practices to Help You Meditate on the Maha-mantra

There’s a Sanskrit word for the daily practices we undertake in order to advance in spiritual life - the word is sadhanaSadhana is what we do, on a daily basis, to facilitate the purification of our consciousness. It is the regulated part of spiritual life which calls for consistency and discipline. 

Yes, discipline. I realize that just a month ago I was urging you to rebel, and now I am calling for discipline. It may seem contradictory, but you’d be wise to note that nothing worthwhile is ever achieved without discipline. Discipline in spiritual life is driven by a desire to become better, and to have an authentic experience of ourselves, free from the limitations that tend to define us.

At the heart of sadhana in bhakti yoga, lies the practice of maha-mantra meditation. All other practices, rituals or routines inherent in sadhana are there to help facilitate good chanting. In essence, sadhana is simply a lifestyle geared towards spiritual advancement.

There are a number of ways in which you can tweak your lifestyle in order to supercharge your meditation practice. In this article I’m going to share with you my personal top 5 practices that have helped me. They are tried and tested, and powerful.

1 Become a Morning Person

Mornings were made for spiritual practice. Any serious spiritual practitioner will attest to this. The earlier, the better.  And by earlier I mean before sunrise, or no later than 4 am. Yes, I’ll give you a moment to digest that...

I sulk on the days when I only manage to drag myself out of bed at 6 or 7am, because I know that my chanting will suffer. And if my chanting suffers, my day will suffer.  My mind will be more agitated and my day less productive.

Early mornings have a profound effect on us for a number of reasons. 

In Vedic philosophy, the dynamic interactions of material energy are said to be ruled by three gunas, or modes of nature - they are tamas (ignorance), rajas (passion) and sattva (goodness). The interplay between these three energies are what determine the predominating mood of a particular time of day. 

“Material nature consists of three modes - goodness, passion and ignorance. When the eternal living entity comes in contact with nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, he becomes conditioned by these modes.” - Krishna to Arjuna in Bhagavad-gita 14.5

Early mornings are bathed in sattva guna - goodness. And because the mind is so strongly influenced by the gunas, the predominance of sattva guna in the morning gives your mind the best possible chance to focus. 

During these early morning hours, our brainwaves are in the optimal state for deep focus and concentration. Not only is it a great time for meditation, but also for studying, writing and any creative work. Check out the link at the end of this article to watch a cool video on this topic.

The time just after you rise is where you’ll find the cleanest mental slate you’re going to get, and what you do during this time sets the tone for the rest of your day. In addition, our willpower is strongest in the mornings and decreases as the day goes on. So if you’re struggling to meditate on a daily basis, mornings are your solution.

Of course, in order to rise early, one must also go to bed early. Sattva guna cannot support your meditation if you keep falling asleep! If you’re accustomed to late nights, you’ll probably need to ease your way into a new routine over a few weeks. Try going to bed 30 min earlier than usual so that you can rise 30 min earlier, and continue like that until you reach your target wake-up time.

2 Write About It

Mantra meditation will lead to ‘ah-ha!’ moments, or simply to clarity, or maybe to frustration. In any case, try writing about your experience. If it’s hard, if it’s boring, if it’s magical, if it’s expected or unexpected. Writing has the somewhat magical quality of revealing our realizations to us. 

Much has been written about journaling and the benefits to our mental health. It is a powerful tool for self-reflection and building confidence. You’re writing for yourself, so there’s no need to hold back. 

Personally, after journaling for some time, I felt inspired to share my realizations with others. There is a strong tradition of writing in the line of bhakti yoga which I practice. I, like many others, am very much indebted to those great saints who had the good sense and compassion to put their spiritual realizations into the written form.

In her bestselling book about awakening creativity (The Artist’s Way), Julia Cameron encourages her readers to start a journaling exercise she calls ‘Morning Pages’. She suggests filling three pages, first thing in the morning, with your hand-written words. 

Whether you decide to write before or after, or before and after your mantra meditation, set a goal to write a certain number of pages each day. Even if you feel like you have nothing to write, fill the page. A good place to start is with gratitude:

“Gratitude turns whatever we have into enough. What’s more, gratitude is a practice. The more you practice being grateful for what you have, the more you’ll develop your capacity for appreciation. When you can appreciate all things, even so-called reversals in your life, seeing them as valuable lessons, you’ll be situated in unwavering spiritual satisfaction.” - Vaisesika Dasa, on the importance of keeping a gratitude journal.

When you’re forced to crystalize your feelings into words, they become easier to digest. When we see our struggles and victories on the page in front of us, we can more clearly evaluate our progress, make adjustments and become inspired to continue in our practice. And I promise, you will see progress!

3 Be Selfless

Another integral part of bhakti (devotion) is seva, or selfless service. Service without self-interest is perhaps the purest expression of love we can find in this world. And since the maha-mantra is all about love and devotion, undertaking some selfless service will help you to connect more deeply to the mantra as you chant it. 

Seva purifies and softens the heart. It is deeply satisfying and has some desirable side-effects, such as happiness and contentment. So do something for someone else, without being asked and without seeking recognition or compensation. But make sure that it’s something the other person actually wants or needs, and not simply what you think they need.

4 Go For a Walk

Because you know it’s great for you. 
Sitting in meditation is a lot easier if your body is well taken care of, and for most people, walking is the simplest and most effective way to do it. Those in the know recommend at least 20 min a day, and who am I to argue? It’s a good place to start.

Just as times of the day are under the influence of the gunas, so are places. Forests and rivers are full of sattva guna - goodness. If you can safely walk in a forest, on a beach or in the mountains, do that. Parks and leafy sidewalks are the next best thing... but walking in a mall doesn’t count! Unlike in malls, walking in nature has the benefit of being very grounding, and natural environments are full of prana - life force! Try going barefoot if you can, at least for a few steps. 

Another consideration is that mantra meditation is easily done while walking. Although sitting in one place to meditate is the most effective way to meditate in terms of focusing the mind, a walking meditation can also be very helpful, especially if you often find yourself wanting to fall asleep while meditating. 

It can be harder to focus on the mantra while doing a walking meditation, as your senses are more engaged with the world around you. But if it’s a question of falling asleep while sitting, or meditating while walking, choose the latter.

5 Eat Compassionately

This is a hot topic for many people, and it's heating up again in light of the current pandemic crisis. If it’s all the same to you, I’d like to avoid getting into a nitty gritty debate about it right here and now. But a diet based on non-violence and compassion to all living beings is so important in raising consciousness that it would be irresponsible of me not to mention it here. 

In my personal experience, the single biggest influence on my consciousness, other than chanting Hare Krishna, was switching to a lacto-vegetarian diet. The effect is profound. 

I have no doubt that many of our readers already identify themselves as vegan or vegetarian, but for those of you who don’t, I have one request: Just think about it. Do some research and entertain the notion. If you’re serious about wanting to meditate better, experiment with herbivorous nutrition.

To put it all in context...

At a time when everything is up in the air, my hope for you is that you can grow roots deep into your mantra meditation practice with the help of these five stabilizing adjustments to your lifestyle. 

The world today is looking drastically different than it did just a week ago, and no one really knows what it will look like a week from now. Amidst all of this uncertainty, there is peace of mind and fearlessness to be found in the chanting of the maha-mantra. In fact, now its time to shine. Things may seem out of control from our limited perspective, but the universe is dancing to a divinely choreographed tune. Chant the maha-mantra, and you will hear it. 

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare


Be Inspired - This is Why All Billionaires Wake Up EXACTLY at 4:00 AM


Be a Rebel With a Cause – Chant Hare Krishna

I considered myself to be quite the rebel in my teens and early twenties, and I was proud of that label.

I thought I was so cool – smoking cigarettes behind the art building at the strict, all-girls school I attended in the dull, conservative city of Pretoria. [Never heard of Pretoria? Don’t worry about it]. It’s true that I had very little respect for authority, but more than anything else, I was deeply dissatisfied with what life was offering me.

The Oxford English dictionary defines rebellion as: “the action or process of resisting authority, control, or convention.”

Actually, rebellion is in all of us. We naturally resist authority, control and convention – that is the nature of our ego. None of us want to be another brick in the wall because, in fact, we are all utterly unique.

But we’re not who we think we are.

There is a Sanskrit word ahankara, which literally translates as “I am the doer.” It is used to describe the false ego - the false identity of being the physical body and the ultimate controller of our lives. And so, when others tell us what to do, we rebel, thinking that we alone know what’s best for us. Really?

Our false ego makes us proud, our pride interferes with our higher intelligence by preventing us from accepting good advice, and therefore we can’t access knowledge beyond ourselves because we have no faith in any authority.

Faith is the precursor of knowledge. If you don’t have faith, which is assisted by the culture of genuine respect, your ability to understand things is limited to your own frame of reference.” - Dhanurdhara Swami

The problem is, where do we point our rebellious faces once we’ve recognized that we should turn our backs on the uninspiring authorities and ill-considered conventions of modern society? Well, some of us are intelligent and humble enough to seek out inspiring mentors and higher truths... But not me.


Unfortunately, if you don’t know where to find a constructive alternative to what you’re rebelling against, the only clear way forward is to tear it all down. So I, like many others, not knowing any better and convinced of my superiority over all the sheep out there, embarked on a path that, looking back, I can only describe as hedonistic self-destruction.

It took me years to realize that my rebellion for individualism was just the same as everyone else’s. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll... What I considered to be rebellion was in fact just a jaded pattern of behavior that led to an overstimulation of the senses. It was nothing special, but nonetheless, it made me proud. My pride then stripped me of my intelligence and fuelled the dissatisfaction that I was trying to escape from in the first place.

To make a long story short, it all came crashing down and I had a proverbial wake-up call. Thankfully.

Naturally, the Bhagavad-gita has something to say about this:

What is night for all beings is the time of awakening for the self-controlled; and the time of awakening for all beings is night for the introspective sage. - BG 2.69

Is self-control and introspection the rebellion of the future?

Yes. And here’s why...

The ultimate rebellion is to turn your back on your false conception of yourself. It is to take the humble position and allow yourself to be guided by a worthy teacher. The alternative is simply ignorance. If we can’t understand our true nature as eternal spiritual beings, we can’t make sense of what we’re meant to do with this crazy world, and nothing will ever truly satisfy us. We’ll keep rebelling at every new situation that’s not quite right. There’s no peace in a life like that.

Rebel once more, but do it right this time.

One of the many gifts of Hare Krishna mantra meditation is that it allows us to see our existential condition more clearly. Many great personalities have composed songs and prayers to glorify this type of meditation because it is so uniquely powerful. Sometimes I recite a particularly potent prayer, called the Sri Siksastakam, before starting my daily meditation. The first line translates as follows:

Glory to the Sri Krishna Sankirtana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life.

Sri Krishna Sankirtana refers to the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. The dust is our false conception of ourselves as material beings, and the fire of conditional life is the uneasiness we feel that impels us towards acts of rebellion and seeking.

These days, my day begins at 3:30 am. I rise, wash, dress and spend 2-3 hours meditating on the mantra that came crashing into my life 14 years ago with a rebellious message: swallow your pride and chant Hare Krishna. All it takes is a little bit of initial faith.

After careful consideration (nearly 8 years of it), I wholeheartedly embraced the practice of chanting Hare Krishna. My parents didn’t like it much (a sure sign of a truly worthy rebellion)... At least not initially... But now, almost 6 years later, they can’t deny the integrity and benefit of my personal transformation. And transformation is exactly what a solid rebellion should yield. All it took was a mantra, some meditation beads, a qualified teacher and a calculated leap of faith.

I don’t think I need to convince anyone that the world needs a lot of rebelling right now. But don’t put too much faith in the rebellion of the modern world, which is focussed on material issues and generally just encourages satisfaction of the senses. If you’re gonna do it, do it right, and uncover your true spiritual individuality along the way.

Bhakti Tirtha Swami says it best:

“We must resist the temptation to be ‘normal,’ because those who are now considered normal accept the values and practices of an insane world.”[1]

Rebel, dear ones... but don’t leave your intelligence behind, and take the maha-mantra with you.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

[1] Spiritual Warrior III: Solace for the Heart in Difficult Times, Chapter 8 – How To Strengthen Ourselves -  by HH Bhakti Tirtha Swami

A Journey Into Bhakti-yoga

--by Jessica Davey

Jessica is a student on the ChantNow Mantra Meditation course, sharing her personal experiences as an example of how Bhakti-yoga unfolds naturally by the grace of the divine.

Before I start anything new, I usually do some research to figure out how “impossible” the thing is.  My ego likes to know the destination before I start the journey. If there's even one part of it that I don’t think I can accomplish, I don’t even try.  But it seems that my ego wasn’t in charge of my journey into bhakti-yoga. Instead I took small steps as they felt right, and eventually, before I knew it, Krishna was a part of my life.

Last year, I wasn’t interested in religion at all.  I had some interest in spirituality, but I had become jaded by all the many paths I’d tried (and quit). Actually, I was looking for a volunteer opportunity and considered a stay at Bhaktivedanta Manor (the center of ISKCON in the United Kingdom), mostly because of its connection to the late Beatle, George Harrison. This led me to pick up a copy of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad Gita As It Is.  I had read it once a long time ago, and I re-read it then, purely for information.  It’s a long book, so I read a little bit every night. Even though I didn’t volunteer in the end, I found it so interesting that I kept reading anyway.

A few weeks later I stopped eating first meat, then later eggs.  Although I had been a vegetarian for many years previously, at that time I was eating anything and everything, and had been for about three years. However, I found that it became difficult to read a book that made such good points against meat-eating and to continue eating meat at the same time. Personally, I had to make a choice. Well, I had been a vegetarian before, so doing it again didn’t seem like such a big deal. I kept reading and gave up meat.

A few months after that, I was doing some more traveling and had a free evening in Berkeley, California. After giving it a lot of thought, I decided to visit the ISKCON temple there. It felt like it might be too much, and I wasn’t sure I had any business going there.  It seemed like a big step, from just reading a book to going to a temple that was sure to be full of unfamiliar sights and sounds.

It was a risk, but by this time, reading about Krishna had become a comfortable, familiar habit. So the “risk” turned out to be an absolutely lovely experience. Listening to the chanting and talking to the devotees (oh yes, and eating the delicious food!) were enough to convince me that I wanted more of that in my life. When I went back to England a few months later, I finally visited Bhaktivedanta Manor. I talked to some more devotees there, bought a set of beads, and was shown how to chant japa on them. I started with one round a day and gradually increased it. I also gave up drinking coffee, something I had tried and failed many times before. This time, it was almost easy, and I haven’t looked back since.

I am so lucky to have found Krishna and bhakti-yoga the way I did. Knowing myself and my ego, the story could have gone very differently. If I had known even half of what was expected of devotees up front, I would have decided that this path was closed off to me and not even tried. Instead, I took many small steps and have found myself able to do a little more each day. So even now, when I learn about some other aspect of bhakti-yoga that I’m not yet doing, I just think, “well, okay, I can’t do that now, but I’ll get there eventually.”  And I know that, with Krishna’s help, I will.


On March 18, 2019, a musical album was released by Bhakti Bhringa Govinda Swami and Akincana Krishna das, two seasoned practitioners of bhakti-yoga. Bhakti Bhringa Govinda Swami, in particular, has been meditating on the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and sharing this practice with others since 1971. Known for his deep and melodious singing, he is particularly fond of chanting the mantra in kirtan.

Recorded in Moscow, this album is named after the recent documentary by Maksim Varfolomeev, made under the guidance of Bhakti Bhringa Govinda Swami. It takes place in Vrindavan, a small Indian village immersed in the mood of bhakti, or devotion to Krishna. In Bhakti Bhringa Govinda Swami’s own words, “It’s a story about a person who transcends trials in his life… through the transformative experience of visiting Vrindavan”. Very well received worldwide, the movie has won 15 awards.

To listen to the music album, please visit one of these links:


Yandex Music:


Itunes and Apple Music:


YouTube Music:


Amazon Music:


To know more about the movie “Reconnection” and watch it online, please go to https://five.pictures/reconnection/

You can also visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ReconnectionFilm/

Please enjoy the beautiful music and the movie, and if you feel touched by them, please share them and offer some support!

We truly hope that they will light a spark within you, a desire for reconnection with yourself and the divine.

To deepen that desire, you are welcome to join our FREE 7 day chanting workshop: https://www.chantnow.com/

Sing your Way to Meditation

Among many benefits, mantra meditation brings deep joy to our hearts, and one of the most blissful experiences I’ve had since I began to practice it is kirtan. Playing different instruments, a group of people sing together the maha-mantra, putting all their focus and intention just as if they would be meditating by themselves; but the collective endeavor creates an even more powerful and accessible experience of the mantra.

From the Sanskrit “praise”, kirtan is music in the form of call and response between the kirtan leader and the audience that creates an atmosphere of immersion in the mantra. Singing with others increases the sound vibration, amplifying the power and depth of our experience. Moreover, in a kirtan everyone is sharing a collective experience and simultaneously having a very personal one. The music allows for emotions to flow and it becomes easier to let go of any internal barriers. Many of those who attend a kirtan session say that they felt uplifted, freed from tension and worry, anxiety or any other negative feeling they had been experiencing. More than that, they often affirm that it was an incredibly joyful moment, and it is not rare to see a whole room of people quietly sitting down become a roaring party by the end of the kirtan! It can last as long as the group wants, and it’s actually hard to stop once we are tasting the joy that the maha-mantra offers.

This joy is within us, and the kirtan brings it out by connecting us to our true, spiritual selves, a part and parcel of the Supreme who is full of unlimited joy. By singing the maha-mantra collectively, we also experience the connection we share with others as spiritual entities and our relationships are improved by this practice. There is much more to say about kirtan, but the best way to understand it is to experience it yourself.

Please check our kirtan section to have a taste of the kirtan experience!

Peace at your fingertips

Seven years ago, in Montreal, I was introduced to mantra meditation in a most unexpected way. A friend took me to a festival called Ratha Yatra, where I noticed a boy chanting the Hare Krishna mantra on the stage. As soon as that sound vibration reached me, I experienced a deep sense of peace and entered a meditative state without any conscious effort on my part. I had never felt such satisfaction, happiness and, perhaps above all, harmony with life; the confidence that I was worth and enough, as well as everyone else, and that we are meant to experience true wholeness.

A few days later, the discovery that I could replicate that experience on my own, anytime, was truly life-changing. All I needed was a set of meditation beads to engage in japa, a form of mantra meditation where the practitioner softly repeats a mantra while focusing on its sound.

Japa, translated from Sanskrit as “muttering”, refers to the practice of repeating sacred mantras found in different traditions. It is usually done using with a mala, or “garland”, a series of beads strung together in what looks like a necklace. An extra bead, bigger than the others, serves as a reference point for counting the number of mantras chanted.

In any practice, it is helpful to use tools for keeping track of our development. For mantra meditation, it is recommended to chant a consistent number of mantras daily, so we can better measure our progress and the quality of our experience. A japa mala allows us to focus on the sound and not on the number of mantra repetitions.

But it is actually more than a counting device: It engages our sense of touch, promoting focus, and constitutes a sacred item in itself that supports mantra meditation. Often made from a sacred material such as Tulasi or sandalwood, they traditionally have 108 beads, considered a significant and universal number: Hindus, for instance, have 108 Upanishads as part of their sacred scriptures, the Vedas. This reference to the number 108 emphasizes the divinity within creation and reminds us of the spiritual nature of meditation.

In a world increasingly aware of the powers and benefits of mantra meditation, it is never too much to be reminded of the spiritual goal of meditation. The Hare Krishna maha-mantra, in particular, is a request for awareness of our true, spiritual self, and to be reinstated in that consciousness as divine sparks of the Supreme.

For a demonstration on how to meditate using a japa mala, watch our video.

I sincerely wish you the best in your japa and look forward to hearing about your experience on our facebook group!

Click on the following link to watch the video:


How Lifestyle Affects Consciousness

Chanting Is A Journey To Higher Consciousness

Chanting is a journey towards realizing your spiritual nature and achieving higher consciousness. Part of this journey is to start looking at the way we live and how it affects us. This is part of the science of yoga which leads to cleansing the heart and experiencing the joy of living in spiritual harmony with the divine, nature, and others.

In bhakti-yoga, not only do we set aside time for spiritual practices like Mantra Meditation, but we try to live the rest of our day cultivating good character and giving up habits that degrade our consciousness. One of the most important ways your lifestyle can support higher consciousness is the practice of ahimsa or nonviolence.

The Journey Within

love of all living animals

Radhanath Swami writes beautifully about this in his book 'The Journey Within', a contemporary treatise on bhakti-yoga.

“The first regulative principle[in Sanskrit – yama], ahimsa, is nonviolence, to cause no harm to any living being through our actions, words, and, as far as humanly possible, our thoughts. This will protect us from accruing negative karma, which only further covers the self. The biblical equivalent to ahimsa is, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Logically, the Bible’s positive injunction embraces it’s opposite: “Do not do unto others as you would not want done unto you.”

The practice of ahimsa involves being respectful, patient, and forgiving—nonviolent. The Bhagavad-gita teaches that a Yogi sees the Divine in the heart of all beings and therefore wishes all beings well. We advance in yoga to the degree that we consider the suffering of others as our own suffering and the happiness of others as our own happiness. In this spirit, compassion is the basis of ahimsa.

Ahimsa is the primary reason that bhakti-Yogis choose to be vegetarian: their aim is to minimize the suffering they cause other creatures. Animals feel pain just as humans do. Animals express emotions and may love their offspring, and those close to them, not so differently, from the way we do.

Sadhu Vaswani, a well-known Yogi from the early twentieth century, says,

“All killing is a denial of love, for to kill, or eat what another has killed, is to rejoice in cruelty. And cruelty hardens our hearts and blinds our vision and we see not that they whom we kill are our brothers and sisters in the One Brotherhood of Life. “

The more we expand our spirit of compassion to honor the sanctity of life, the more deeply we connect with our own spiritual nature.”

I’m hoping that your interest in spirituality has already led you to commit to a meatless diet. But if not, please consider trying it for a week while you engage in Mantra Meditation. This will help open your heart to the healing and consciousness-raising power of the maha-mantra.

Food is a big part of bhakti and includes a practice that actually spiritualizes your eating. But the beginning is to refrain from unnecessary violence to animals, simply for satisfying your taste. Again, I’m hoping you have already come to this conclusion, but if you haven’t please consider this part of your lifestyle thoughtfully.

From Mindfulness to Heartfulness

During kirtan, experienced chanters often call us to chant from the heart, not just the mind. We are called to go from mindfulness to heartfulness.

But, how do we find the place of the heart?

Of course, there’s the physical heart, with its ventricles and atria and valves and all. And research does show that even the physical actions of the heart are affected by grief, joy, “heartbreak” etc.

And then there’s the emotional heart, when we fall in love, or out of love… But looking at it deeply these feelings are really a product of our minds taking us through the stages of thinking, feeling and willing each one engaging us more powerfully than the previous one.

But what about the heart of my heart? The deepest place inside of me where I, the soul reside. The seat of my deepest love and aspirations. And where the Soul of my soul, the Supersoul, also resides, guiding me over innumerable lifetimes… if I will only hear.

I heard a story from a friend, a Buddhist teacher, about one of her colleagues. He, also a Buddhist teacher, was assisting one of his students who was dying of a very painful stomach cancer. The teacher was coaching his dying student to go to the place of mindfulness. After some time, the student told his teacher that the mindfulness wasn’t working. His teacher replied, “Then you must go to the place of the heart, you must go to the place of heartfulness.”

We hear so much about mindfulness, and most of us have benefited from its gifts. But the interior journey has many layers. In the external world, so many extreme terrains have been trekked and explored; the highest mountains have been climbed; the mysteries of deep seas have been uncovered. But that place of the heart of our hearts remains the deepest unknown place of mystery and unexplored treasures.

How can I pursue this inward bound journey? How can I chant from my heart?

On the path of bhakti-yoga, we from those guiding us that we can discover our true heart through prayer, opening ourselves up to the grace of God that comes from beyond my own strength and that will uncover these deep secrets that are within me.

The maha-mantra is itself such a prayer. All it needs is your sincere desire, the desire of your true heart.