40 day practice of Gayatri Mantra
(Note: This is the the advice given by the author of the article cited below. We recommend you seek guidance from your respective guru who is learned in this practice of meditation.)
The period of 40 days has been widely recognized as an auspicious period both in the East and the West since ancient times. A traditional way to do an extended mantra practice is to choose a number of repetitions per day, and to do that for 40 days. The mind likes to have a beginning and end to a practice, a sense of completion, such as comes with a 40 day (or longer) practice.
Fixed time per practice session: Mind finds comfort in knowing that it will do the practice of one round of 108 repetitions (or some other number of rounds), and that each round will take a predictable amount of time (18 minutes per round of 108 repetitions).
Same number of rounds: Mind also likes the predictability of doing a certain number of rounds done per day. Mind may resist at times, but once it gets started in the practice, mind likes the habit.
Specific number of days: Mind also likes the plan of knowing how many days or months a practice will take to complete. This can be very beneficial in stabilizing a noisy mind, which is a common complaint.
Listening to this online Gayatri mantra recording of 108 repetitions (18 minutes) is equivalent to one round of a mala. A mala is a set of counting beads with 108beads. Only 100 are counted, with the other 8 considered an offering to the divine, however you personally hold that. You might choose to do 1, 2, 3, or 4 rounds of 108 mantras per day, counting with a set of mala beads.
Or, you can use the Gayatri Mantra CD instead of the mala beads, as the CD has 4 tracks of 108 repetitions each. You might choose to do 1, 2, 3, or 4 tracks of 108 mantras per day. You might also want to alternate between doing some with the recording and some without, counting instead with a set of mala beads.
It has been said that there is freedom in discipline; choosing to do a regular practice frees the mind from wondering what practice will be done that day. It is also important not to do the mantra practice with rote repetition, but rather, with feeling and awareness.
By running your own experiment for 40 days, you can decide for yourself whether or not the practice is beneficial.
A noticeable level of mantra siddhi (power of the mantra) is said to come with 125,000 repetitions of a mantra (Such an extended practice is called apurascharna). This is equivalent to 1250 rounds of a mala.
Listening to this online Gayatri mantra recording of 108 repetitions (18 minutes) is equivalent to one round of a mala (Or, you can also use the Gayatri Mantra CD). To complete the equivalent of 1250 rounds of a mala, or a total of 125,000 repetitions of Gayatri mantra, will take this amount of time:
|4||1 hr, 12 min||313||10 1/2|
|5||1 hr, 30 min||250||8 1/2|
|6||1 hr, 48 min||209||7|
|7||2 hr, 6 min||179||6|
Such an extended practice with Gayatri mantra can have a tremendous effect in stabilizing the mind in preparation for advancing in meditation. Such a practice simply must be done personally to understand the benefits. It does take quite a commitment to do this practice every day for such a long period, but it is well worth the effort.
In choosing the level of practice per day, it is important to have stability from one day to the next, and to not skip any days. It is best to choose the level that works for you consistently, rather than changing the number from day to day. For example, if two rounds per day is a good number (34 minutes), then it’s better to stay with that amount each and every day, not to do none on one day, but four on the next day.
If you would like to practice the gayatri mantra, dedicate time for it in the morning or evening, or both. (Your meditation does not need to coincide precisely with the actual rising or setting of the sun, especially in the extreme latitudes of North America). Here is a brief practice you can do:
Sit in a comfortable seated posture. Establish relaxed breathing and spend a little time feeling the breath flowing in the nostrils. This will calm and focus your mind.
Now visualize a golden, sunlike orb, and bring that golden light into yourself. Let it enter at the eyebrow center, and then have this light travel slowly down to the region at the center of the chest. There, feel the golden rays of the sun spreading out through your whole body and mind.
Give a moment of thanks to the seers of the Vedas. Then, at the center of this golden orb, which rests at the anahata chakra (heart center), begin to mentally repeat the gayatri mantra. Recite it as if the consciousness at your heart has merged with your internal sun, and the sound now flows from the core of that sun. From there, let the sounds of the syllables resound in your entire being.
Repeat the mantra as many times as seems natural. For a longer practice you can use a mala (a set of 108 beads for counting mantra repetitions). Let the sound resonate in you. Let it fill the entire space of your inner being.
With time and practice, the rhythm of daily gayatri practice will illumine your mornings and evenings with quiet joy. The mantra will elevate you above troubled places and restore spiritual confidence. Quiet daily practice and upliftment—these are the needs of the soul. You will find both in the gayatri mantra.