Bhakti is an affair of the heart and nobody need know. Perhaps the less known your love for God is, the more powerful, the more sincere it is likely to be. When the affairs of the heart are externalised they lose their value completely, they become useless, they become showy, spiritless, essenceless.
As soon as you wake up – not get up – as soon as you open your eyes in the morning, start repeating the mantra. If you are alone in the room, you can say it aloud or whisper it; or if you are not alone, you may do it mentally. After a few minutes, when you are fully awake, get out of bed, wash your face quickly and come back and sit in your asana for more japa. This time you can use a mala. And then synchronize the mantra with the breath, this is the trick. Then the breathing itself becomes the japa mala. Repeat the mantra once while inhaling, repeat the mantra once while exhaling, and form this habit. Once the habit is formed, this mantra repetition or japa will become natural, second nature to you. Then, to make it even more firmly grounded, devote a few seconds to it every hour or every two hours. Just synchronize the mantra with the breath and listen to it.
At the end of the day, before you go to bed, the mantra can be repeated properly, sitting in your meditation room in your meditation posture. Gurudev used to insist that before you go to bed you should spend half an hour at least in japa. It is not a waste of time. You will have a better sleep and a more restful, more blissful, more fruitful sleep. If His sleep was disturbed, the disturbed period of His sleep was also spent in japa. This japa mantra itself will lead you to meditation if you leave faith and dedication, if you are cautious and careful.
One day or the other you are bound to question what it is that is repeating this mantra. ‘I’. Who is I? Where does the sound come from? From me. Who is me? When that quest arises, there is meditation. You are not meditating, you are merely entering into this quest. Who is repeating this mantra? From where does it come? I hear the sound of the mantra within without vocalizing it. How is it possible to have a sound without making a sound? When such inquiry arises from within, the mantra japa goes on, and it merges into meditation. When it is realised that this meditation is happening, this mantra japa is happening without my volition, without my will, without my individuality participating in it, then all actions in life happen without the ‘me’.