Practitioners of Japa meditation claim that to achieve the most potent development of restorative or enhancing energy, a person must repeat a word or phrase at least 108 times.
Prabhupada elaborates, As living spiritual souls, we are all originally Krishna-conscious entities, but due to our association with matter from time immemorial, our consciousness is now polluted in the material atmosphere. In this polluted concept of life, we are all trying to exploit the sources of material nature, but are actually becoming more and more entangled in our complexities.
Primarily rooted in the Hare Krishna movement, chanting is becoming more and more popular among many who practice meditation. According to Prabhupada, the way humans can rejoin their earlier essence and harmony with all living entities is through the repetitive chanting of specific mantras.
Prabhupada himself employs a traditional chant, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare or Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare. Although many people associate this particular chant with John Lennon's song "My Sweet Lord", the chant itself is not intended to be associated with a religious meaning, but rather with a personal, emotional striving.
This illusory sudden and instant material nature can at once be stopped by revival of our Krishna consciousness, Prabhupada explains. Krishna consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind. This consciousness is the original energy of living entities. When we hear the transcendental vibration, this consciousness is revived.
The theory behind chant meditation is that sound has a great power locked within it to reach the levels of consciousness, such as those, which former LSD drug advocate Timothy Leary sought to attain. Japa meditation makes use of the mantra - a Sanskrit term referring to a specific chant, to distract the mind from its daily, mundane, thought processes and move it to another plane of consciousness.
Although Leary and his followers believed they were on that plane, practitioners of Japa meditation truly believe they are able to reach that higher level of consciousness, without having to be in a state of chemically-enhanced euphoria.
A mantra can be anything, as long as its positive. Negative mantras hold the same power, but with a different purpose; they seek to invoke discord within one's personal sphere. Prabhupada suggests choosing an appropriate mantra from the traditional Sanskrit mantras, but he acknowledges the efficacy of positive personal affirmations. 'Hare Krishna' mantras allow practitioners to return to a deeper consciousness and a life that is in touch with a transcendental plane.