Can meditation be substituted for japa?
What ideally constitutes daily spiritual practice?
—Neha Pai, India
Dear Neha Pai,
All spiritual practices, when practiced sincerely and with focus, are beneficial. But each spiritual practice bestows particular as well as general benefits, so I would not say that meditation can be “substituted” for japa.
If your underlying concern is that you do not have enough time to do both, then I would recommend meditation over japa. The practice of meditation, deepened by techniques such as the Hong Sau, Om and Kriya techniques, bestows the deepest benefits. If you only have time in your schedule for one practice then I recommend you focus on meditation.
However, you may not have to make a choice. While the practice of meditation requires a quiet, private space, japa can be practiced while in daily activity – the two practices are very complementary.
As to your other question regarding an ideal daily spiritual practice I recommend that you try to meditate twice a day, once in the morning upon rising, and once again in the evening before you go to sleep. The more time you can devote to mediation the better, but fifteen minutes is the minimum. As you practice mediation it will feel natural to spend more time at it.
Joseph (Puru) Selbie