When I meditate, I usually sit down, get comfortable, maybe follow my breath for a couple of minutes, and then turn straight inward and stay there for as long as I’m able. While such simplicity is generally best, it can still be helpful to have methods at hand for those times when you just can’t get your mind to turn inward, when your thoughts and emotions won’t slow down, or when you’re not able to devote your usual amount of time to ritual and meditation.
Your usual mantra may be used for this, if you have one. Both OM and OM Namah Sivaya are suitable. This practice “fills the head” with the chosen mantra, thus purifying the subtle channels of the head and concentrating awareness at the top of the central channel. This method may be used prior to meditation, or at any time during the day to focus the sensory apparatus inward. It is worth pondering the fact that the entire subtle energy system is recapitulated in the head, so the action of this practice impacts the entire system. As above, it may also be used in place of a full session of meditation or ritual puja if, for whatever reason, such is not possible. I recently made use of it several times daily while traveling.
Using the thumb of your right hand, count off repetitions of the chosen mantra on the three joints each of your little, ring, and middle fingers of the same hand, counting the tenth repetition on the thumb itself. Do this forward and backward for a total of 20 repetitions of the mantra while concentrating on the left eye. Repeat this process while concentrating on the right eye, then again on the mouth, again on the brow (including the mid-brain), and again on the space just above the crown of the head. Finally, repeat the mantra eight times in the Heart. This brings the total repetitions to 108, the number of a traditional japamala.