By Bir Krishna Swami
The names of Krishna are the repository of all happiness and the greatest wealth. If we chant properly, we will not experience material miseries, but we may experience what the materialist might mistake as misery: the spiritual joy of intense separation from Krishna.
Since that joy comes from proper chanting, we might wonder how we can chant with attention and concentration, even if we are not yet pure devotees of Krishna. How can we control the mind? How can we keep ourselves from thinking of a million and one other things besides Krishna’s names?
Chanting properly takes practice, and the first point is to approach the practice positively. When we approach the holy names negatively, we often think more about what we should not be doing rather than what we should be doing. It is said, “You can’t do a don’t.” So, instead of thinking: “Now I have to control my mind and not think of other things,” we can think, “Now I will concentrate on Krishna’s names, which are identical to Krishna. By concentrating on Krishna’s names, Krishna will give me full intelligence, and I will love Him more and more.”
Besides a positive way of thinking, there are other ways to stay focused on Krishna’s names. We generally chant in two situations: in kirtana, or group singing, and in japa, or private soft chanting. We can approach each one somewhat differently.