Japa (Sanskrit: जप) is a spiritual discipline involving the meditative repetition of a mantra. The mantra is spoken softly or mentally. Most forms of japa use a string of beads to count repetitions, such as the mala or rosary. Malas have 108 repetition beads and one contemplation bead. Generally, formal sadhana* practice is done every day at the same time with the mantra spoken and counted on the malas.** When working with one mantra in particular, it is also chanted mentally throughout the day during all activities.
* Sadhana literally translates to “a means of accomplishing something” and is, according to Wikipedia, an “ego-transcending spiritual practice.”
** I do my practice in the same place at the (sort of) same time most of the time. Depending on my schedule, I have also practiced: in the bathroom of a bar, in the car, at my Mom’s house, silently in the control room at the studio, frantically pacing the studio, etc. As Yogi Shanti Desai says, “If one becomes dogmatic, the practice becomes mechanical and a waste of time. ”