Swami Yogananda said to focus on the third eye during meditation. But as a devotee, i find it more comfortable to meditate on divine mother(with form). So it is difficult to focus on the third eye and divine mother at the same time as my gaze is not upward but straight. What should I do?. Also, is japa only a preparation, or one can continue chanting while meditating?
I assume that your eyes are open when your gaze is “straight?” If you have a murti or image of Divine Mother, focus on that image and then, closing your eyes, try to picture the image at the point between the eyebrows. If this doesn’t work for you, take turns: focus on Divine Mother for a while, then, with closed eyes, lift your gaze toward the inner Light out which the form of Divine Mother has come.
Adi Shankararchya though a non-dualist wrote a book of devotional verses poems to the Divine Mother. Ram Proshad, an Eighteen century bhakta, wrote a song to Divine Mother in which are found the words “Oh, a thousand Vedas declare it: My Divine Mother is formless (nirakara)!”
So, you see: form and formless are one and the same yet Divine Mother, like all forms, comes out of the inner Light which is generally first seen at the spiritual eye. There is no conflict between these two. It IS easier as Krishna says in the Gita to focus on God in form but it is also true that God has no form. We call this: both–and wisdom.
As to the practice of japa, it is most beneficial during our active waking hours. For meditation, it can be a starting point but, again, you want to go beyond words and into the inner silence wherein the Divine presence resides. Again: both–and. Use japa to arouse your devotion and your concentration and then relax from it and enter the throne room of Silence, awaiting the coming of the Lord (in whatever form pleases God to appear to his devotee, including in the form of peace, love, or joy!)
Blessings upon your life’s journey to inner freedom,