Self-effort is absolutely necessary to success in the spiritual life. Follow some spiritual discipline for at least three years. Even after one year of steady practice you will find some result.
Always pray as if beginning for the first time. When we do a thing for the first time, we come to it fresh and with newborn enthusiasm. If when starting to pray, you always approach it as though you had never yet prayed properly, and only now for the first time wished to do so, you will always pray with a fresh and lively zeal.
Sri Sarada Devi once told Swami Atulananda (Gurudas Maharaj) that he could repeat the mantra at all times, but if he really wanted to get results, he should meditate at set times and concentrate on the meaning of the mantra. Regularity of practice, then leads the aspirant to the stage of constant recollectedness.
Continued for some time, regular practice . . . is conducive to the establishment of a constant spiritual mood, giving one a taste of inner joy. A person should not leave his seat immediately after meditation, but should sit for awhile thinking about the object of his meditation. Then he may recite prayers, and hymns to stabilize the meditative mood and inner joy. . . Practice like this fosters a continuous undercurrent of meditation, helping to keep the mind on a high level and bringing to the heart great joy.
Regularity of practice culminates in constant recollectedness, which in turn leads the aspirant to the stage where prayer slips into the unconscious. The starets explained that the desire for prayer and japam is like a wheel which one gives a drive; it works for a long time of itself, but if it is to continue, it must be oiled. Then what happens? The wheel turns even while asleep.
Practise constant recollection and contemplation of God. One has to form the habit. Remember and think of Him continually, while walking, eating, lying down and even while you are actively busy. Let it be as if an undercurrent is all the time flowing. If you practise in this manner for awhile, remembrance and contemplation of Him will go on unconsciously within you; you will be repeating His name even while asleep.
Source – Vedanta Kesari Ramakrishna Mission June 2010 article titled Prayer of the Heart by Pravrajika Brahmaprana.
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