Stages in Japa can be classified as:
1. Verbal (aloud). Swami Chinmaya has even advised to keep eyes open and focuses our vision to any idol of god along with chanting of mantra
2. Verbal but in very low volume
3. Mental chanting.
4. AJAPA JAPA - Observe the Japist. Japa continues on its own.
5. Be aware of the origin or the source of mantra.
6. Merging / dissolving of the mantra in its source. This is Nirvikalp Samadhi.
7. Again, like Phoenix , the mind raises it’s head, still the mind is not destroyed i.e. there is Mano Laya and not Mano Nasha.
8. By repeated entering into Samadhi, there is mano nasha.
9. Sahaj Samadhi.
Till the 3rd part, i.e. mental chanting, japa is done with the help of mind. Later the awareness is shifted to the heart. It is different then the physical heart. Heart is defined as the origin or the source. Raman Maharshi in Raman Gita says that Heart in the body is located 2 inches right from the centre of the chest.
Initially, there is a mental effort. To chant, one needs to concentrate. Mind shows its power and drags the awareness away from the mantra, creates images and scenes. Mind slips into this mental creation and Japa mantra is sidetracked. After some time when the force of the thought becomes weak, meditator realises that he is sitting to meditate. Once again, he shifts the awareness and tries to concentrate on the mantra. DO NOT force to shift the aware, but gently shift the awareness to the mantra. This type of meditation is called Viral Chintan, like continuous falling of water drops from the kalasha above Lord Shiva. Since there is an effort, so there has to be a saturation point of the mind. Hence there is a time limit, i.e. one cannot meditate or do the Japa for as long as he likes. Just as the person learning how to swim, he gets tired in the beginning, but later he swims to release the stress and begins to enjoy swimming. Similarly, in the beginning, a person feels that he/she cannot meditate more, finds it difficult to meditate. Many a times feels to stop / discontinue the meditation. But if he/she holds on and makes a firm decision to meditate regularly, then the efforts reduces, time of meditation increases, enjoyment increases and mind begins to relax. Initially, in 45 minutes of meditation he hardly meditates for 10-15 minutes. Now with constant practice, the mantra has equal force as that of thoughts, so he can observe both mantra and the thoughts. A wise man always chooses to continue chanting the mantra and neglects the thoughts. Later the force of mantra is greater than thoughts, so the number of thoughts decreases; mind remains quiet for a longer period and when a person comes out of meditative mood, he surprisingly realises that he has spend 3 hours in meditation. He thinks that he has meditated for maybe 1 ½ hour, but he has actually spent double time. Ironically, initially, feels that he has spent too much time, but when he sees the clock, it is just 1 hour or sometimes 30 minutes. This is due to too many thoughts.
Initially the target should be 10-15 mins. Increase it to 45 minutes, when one regularly meditates for 45 minutes, he is considered fit for meditation. i.e. he can sit in one place for 45 mins. Later the target is 3 hours. When a person can meditate regularly for 3 hours, he is said to achieve ‘asana siddhi’. Such a person has good control over mind and once he takes decision, he just goes for it. Mind does not change the decision of the intellect. When the person has surrendered to the god, he will definitely make progress. The efforts have reduced a lot, but thoughts still pop-up in mind. It is the beginning of Saral Chintan. Slowly, along with the quantity (amount of time spend in meditation), quality (depth of meditation) increases. God gives him a lot of clarity about his goal of life. If god wishes, by Gods grace he has the first glimpse of samadhi. Till now he just had information from shastras, but now, just as trailer covers entire movie and gives a hint how a movie is, so does a man have experienced the path, as described in the shastras, which is an organized collection of the experience of innumerable saints from time immemorial.
Next target is six hours. A person can reach this target only if the one and only goal of his/her life is SELF Realisation / Moksha /God realisation or to have divine vision of God. He should be ready to renounce each and every worldly thought and desire. Sri Ramakrishna says that once a lady is pregnant, she is given less work as the no of months of pregnancy increases. After 7th month, the work is greatly reduced and after the delivery, she is not given any work. She only takes care of the baby. In the same way, as a man nears the Self Realisation, he/she becomes less active. It is not necessary to become a monk. He/she can be in the society but is no more socially active and works only when it is necessary. Rest of the time he/she remains surrendered to the god and keeps chanting the mantra. There is mental renunciation. Technically it is called ‘tatvik ekanta’ i.e. to experience ekanta (be alone, feeling that you are alone as mind is empty) even in the busy hours, when he/she is surrendered by the society and work.
For such a person who can meditate regularly for 6 hours, God takes control of his life. Now the next stage is ‘Dyeya Siddhi’ i.e. to be aware of the Goal. God makes him experience Samadhi regularly. He knows the road, now he only needs to walk on road and he will certainly reach his destination i.e. ‘Moksha’. So he drops shastras, as the purpose of shastras to give clarity and show the path are done. There is no time limit for meditation. Just as Sri Krishna took the “lagaam” (dictionary meaning: mouthpiece or bit of bridle; bride; reins; control; curb.) of Arjuna’s life, so has the God taken all the burdens of his beloved devotee. By God’s Grace, he is constantly aware of the eternal bliss and peace and knows that he is definitely not a body nor the mind nor the intellect. Such a person is indeed rare and is a ‘kripa patra’ i.e. beloved of God (selected by God), and does Saral Chintan. He/she is the most deserving of Moksha.
 The phoenix (Ancient Greek: Φοῖνιξ, phoínix) is a mythical sacred firebird which originated in the Sub-continent of India.
A phoenix is a mythical bird with a colourful plumage and a tail of gold and scarlet (or purple and blue, according to some sources). It has a 500 to 1,000 year life-cycle, near the end of which it builds itself a nest of myrrh twigs that then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix or phoenix egg arises, reborn anew to live again.
 Generally, we say that if we are surrendered to God, then Gods grace will flow. But sometimes, it is reverse, Due to God’s grace one can surrender to God. God gives him a Guru. So we are generally like duryodhana of Mahabharata, who tried to bring Krishna to his side. But was Arjun who wished to be in the side of Krishna. So he surrenders to him. As a result, mankind gets the one and only unique Doctrine of Self Realisation, that too from the middle of Battle field. No other shastra in the world has originated from the battlefield and showed the path of eternal peace.
Our surrender is a conditioned surrender and we offer something to the god so that god fulfils our wishes. Blessed are the souls who have nothing to surrender, since they have already surrendered themselves (mind, body and soul) to the God. Blessed are the souls who have surrendered their Free Will to the God and merged it with the will of God.