The Mantra can be chanted alone, individually. It can also be chanted in small groups sitting in a circle. However, it is most powerful when chanted in large groups sitting in even, orderly rows. It is most beneficial when performed on an empty or at least half-empty stomach. A Mala (rosary) of 108 beads can be held in the right hand, just level with the heart, in the centre of the chest (the kshetram or trigger point for Anahata Chakra, the heart centre). It is best to use your Japa Mala, however, any other Mala of your choice can also be used. The Mantra is chanted 108 times in a constant fixed rhythm.
One person should lead the chanting by repeating the Mantra once (or even twice to set the speed and Swara), then the others may join in for the remaining 107 (or six) japas. In this way the group will be able to chant together in chorus as one voice, and the effect and build-up of energy will thus be greater. The person guiding the chanting should make sure the speed is kept constant.
Pronunciation: The pronunciation should be correct for the Mantra to be really effective. Many people chant ‘Bandhanaat’ instead of ‘Bandhanaan’. ‘Bandhanaan’ is the more perfect pronunciation.
Breath: The Mahamrityunjaya Mantra is usually chanted in two parts, with a breath in between for ease of chanting and beauty of flow. This breath is taken at the end of the first line, after ‘Pushthivardhanam’. Of course, there is nothing to prevent the practitioner chanting it in one breath if he so wishes, but this will not be possible for everyone. The Mantra can also be divided into four and used during the practice of simple Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (psychic network purification). The process is as follows:
Breathing in through the left nostril, repeat mentally, “Om Tryambakam Yajaamahe”; breathing out through the left nostril repeat mentally, “Sugandhim Pushthivardhanam”; breathing in through the right nostril repeat mentally, “Urvaarukamiva Bandhanaan”; breathing out through the left nostril repeat mentally “Mrityormuksheeya Maamritaat”.
Speed and sound: When chanted dynamically, at a fast speed, the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra generates a very powerful energy, and is at its most effective potency. One remains alert, stimulated and energized. It can also be chanted slowly in a relaxed way, but the energy tends to drop and drag if it is done too slowly. Also, people tend to become too introverted and even sleep or lose interest. The body also begins to complain because it has to sit for too long. A medium speed is most comfortable for the majority of people, and provides a nice balance (the middle path being the Yogic way). However, whichever speed you decide to adopt, remember that it should be constant from beginning to end, creating a synchronized and melodious sound, to uplift the mind and spirit.
All those taking part in the chanting should blend their voices together, so the overall effect is like the gentle and soothing hum of bees. No voice should predominate, except of course the voice of the person who is guiding the chanting. Everyone should try to remain aware throughout the chanting of the speed and the Swara (notes), and harmonize their chanting with the voices of those around them. There is a tendency, as the chanting progresses, for people to become introverted (or tired) and for the chanting to slow down. Just one person in a large group, who has a loud or discordant voice, can bring down the energy level of the whole group and disturb the harmony. The leader is there to see that this does not happen. So, a very important element in the chanting is awareness! The secret is that one should be neither too introverted nor too extroverted but poised somewhere in between on the threshold that divides the two states.
PREPARING TO CHANT
• Imagine that you are in the Himalayas, sitting alone beside the crystal clear, dark blue Manasarovar Lake. (Pause)
• Before you, in the distance, is the snow-capped peak of Mount Kailash, the presence of which is overpowering. (Pause) Surrender to it and feel that you are in the home of the Gods, the abode of Lord Shiva. (Pause)
• There is no sound, no vibration. All around you is the open blue sky, the vast space of pure consciousness. You have nothing to do there but sit down quiet and still, like one of the Gods, peaceful within and without, and close your eyes. (Pause)
• Become aware of the presence of Lord Shiva (supreme consciousness) all around you and penetrating you, as you sit in your chosen Asana, ready to chant the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra. (Pause)
• Your head and spine are upright and straight and your hands are resting on the knees in Chin or Jnana Mudra. You are watching the breath coming and going in the nostrils as the mind becomes more and more calm and steady and relaxed. (Pause)
• In your right hand you are holding a Mala with which to count the 108 Shiva Mantras, and your awareness is fixed at Bhrumadhya (the eyebrow centre) where it will remain throughout the chanting. (Pause)
• Before commencing, you will chant the Mantra Om, long and deeply, three times. Then you will start chanting the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra, visualizing Lord Shiva (or your Ishta Devata/symbol) throughout, at the eyebrow centre.
ENDING THE CHANTING
• When you have finished chanting, sit for a few minutes in the profound stillness and silence of the Himalayas, which lies within your own self. (Pause)
• Now become aware of the protective psychic energy field which you have created around yourself with the chanting of the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra. (Pause)
• Know that you will carry that protection with you wherever you go until you chant again next week. Think of anyone whom you would like to include within this field, someone sick or in need of help. Project the energy out to them. (Pause)
• Feel that Lord Shiva or the power of pure consciousness is sitting in your heart, radiating his blessings and energy out to you, and to them also. (Pause)
• Mentally, bow to him and feel the power of his Mantra pervading your entire being. (Pause)
May the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra uplift your life and help you (and others) overcome all the difficulties that may lay before you.