How to Meditate on the Japa Mala

Question: I often get confused when chanting, because I don't know how to put my focus straight. I understand that one should chant with the prayer to become an instrument of the love of God, but many times I cannot focus on the mantra when praying like this, and many other versions of this prayer come up. And if I just focus on the mantra, I feel that I am missing out on something, so most of the time I feel like a confused parrot when chanting til the japatime is up. It feels terrible to have this problem since chanting of the holy name is the all in all... So my question is if chanting and praying should be done separatly, simultaniously, mixed or in any other way...?

Answer: To chant the maha-mantra on the Japa mala is always auspicious. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu spread this mantra, which connects us with the abode of the highest love, and said that there are no hard and fast rules how to chant the mantra. Therefore we can chant this Hare Krishna maha-mantra everywhere and anytime.

For chanting on the Japa mala, Srila Prabhupada recommended that while chanting we should engage the mind in hearing the Hare Krsna mantra. So, simply by concentrating on chanting and hearing the sound vibration we will be connected with the transcendental realm.

We should always try to chant with all our heart. Do not try to concentrate the mind on something else as the mind is very flickering and will jump from one thing to the other. Just engage your senses in the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. The internal attitude, or the motivation, for chanting should be 'Oh my Lord, please let me be an instrument of your love, please let me do some service for you.'

It is not necessary to become a great singer or a nice musician to sing the maha-mantra. To chant it nicely means to chant it sincerely and with great attention.