When the mantra has been correctly memorized and shouted, he progresses to reciting quietly in his head. Here, he sits silently and chants it with only his lips moving for the goal of meditation, with the result to be felt in the inner psyche, in one's inner being. This is called "japa" (repetition) of the mantra.
In modern times, people often use a tape recorder or CD player to recite the Gayatri Mantra as an aid to meditation. Although this is acceptable according to some Hindu teachers, it is not considered optimal meditation technique because you are using your mind's ear instead of listening with your heart. Recitation with sound is useful since it helps focus attention on the words being said, but sitting quietly with just your mind and body is better for reaching internal levels of awareness.
The ancient sages believed that hearing the mantra aloud helped place it deep into memory more effectively, so chanting it silently is not recommended. However, if one is experienced in meditation and wants to try it, then great! But for most of us who are new to meditation, it's best to start with hearing the mantra spoken with feeling and understanding.
The sounds can be chanted aloud or internally. When you recite the mantra inwardly, the "inner sound" becomes the focus of your meditation. You can, however, concentrate on the affects of the sound vibrations in your body, your breathing, and the sensation of the mantra in your mouth, lips, and tongue. This is known as "mental chanting."
You can also mentally picture the energy of the sound while retaining awareness of your breath. The image that comes to mind when you think of "OM" is a blue light that connects all things together. This is known as "visualization" during meditation.
Finally, you can create a feeling tone for each of the three main organs: Om with feeling in the throat for the brain; om with feeling in the heart for the stomach; and om with feeling in the lungs for the spleen and pancreas. This is called "physical chanting."
All forms of meditation involve concentrating on one subject for a period of time. Although there are many types of meditation, they all lead toward stilling the mind so that you can experience enlightenment, know reality as it is, and realize your true self.
Saying the mantra loudly is thought to help you tune in to the pronunciation as well as quiet your mind.
You can use any part of the mantra as long as you say it consciously and intentionally. For example, while it's fine to say "Om" out loud, if you forget and start thinking about something else, that would be using up your time. Instead, try saying the mantra silently to yourself or in your head and see how much better you do at staying focused.
There are many types of meditation. What works for one person may not work for you. If you're new to meditation, it's best to start with something simple such as breathing exercises or learning how to control your thoughts.
As you learn more about meditation, you'll be able to practice on your own terms. You may want to try different techniques until you find one that works for you. In addition, there are many types of meditation: sitting, walking, lying down, chanting, music-based, etc. Find a style that feels right to you and your situation and go from there.
It's normal to feel anxious or worried during meditation. Remember that you're taking time out of your day to relax your mind and body.