Malas are beautiful to look at, wear and hold, but their meaning goes much deeper than that. Mala beads are a powerful tool to unlock deeper connection to your highest self through meditation and other spiritual practices, but even if you are not spiritual Mala beads can act as a reminder for your own personal intentions.
The History of Mala Beads
To explain it simply, Mala beads are a string of beads that are used in prayer and meditation practice. Commonly used in Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Shintō for the spiritual practice called Japa. Japa is the meditative repetition of a mantra or a divine name, and is a beautiful and powerful way to tap into your inner world and feel at one with the divine. The word mala means 'garland' in Sanskrit, and represents your spiritual essence.
How to choose Mala Beads
Mala beads represent different things to everyone. You may use them as part of your meditation or spiritual practice, or they could act as a reminder of a personal intention, or be an adornment that takes you to a special place in your mind and body. Whatever the reason, choosing a Mala is all about what feels right to you.
Mala beads come in various forms, they can be made from wooden beads, stone beads, rudrashka seed beads or precious gemstones that give the mala powerful healing energies. They come in different designs too, with tassels, pendants, or simply tied with a knot.
If you are drawn to a specific style, trust your instinct and go with it, that Mala is choosing you.
How to use Mala Beads
Traditionally, Mala beads have been used for meditation and prayer, they are important tools for peace and enlightenment in many faiths. If you choose to use your Mala for meditation, it'll most likely be for a mantra medtitation as per the Japa meditation method.
Japa is the meditative repetition of a mantra or a divine name. The mantra or name may be spoken softly, enough for the practitioner to hear it, or it may be spoken within the reciter's mind. Some people choose to recite a simple word like 'love' or 'hope', others choose a longer phrase such as 'I am fulfilled', or you may choose to use a Sanskrit mantra such as 'Sarveshaam Swastir Bhavatu' ('May there be well being in all').
Below is a simple guide to getting started with using your Mala beads for mantra meditation.
- Find somewhere comfortable to sit
- Take a few deep breaths to relax your body and mind, and align yourself with your intention
- Take hold of your Mala in your hand, hold the first bead (one next to the Guru bead which is the larger bead next to the tassel) between your middle finger and thumb
- Begin reciting your mantra at each bead, as you recite the mantra turn each bead around in your finger
- Continue all around the Mala. All of our Malas have marker beads which are smaller gold or silver beads, these are placed to prevent the mind wandering, when you feel the different shape bead, pause and refocus the mind, bringing yourself back to the mantra and your intention
- When you reach the Guru bead, this is a time of reflection, pause and take as much time as you need. If you want a longer meditation you can go back around the other way, never cross over the Guru bead.
Meditation is a beautiful practice to quieten the chatter in our mind, and in time bring us towards a more peaceful, enlightened way of living. Japa meditation in particular, combines slow steady breathing with the steady repetition of the mantra, and it is the mantra that represents a doorway to higher realms by allowing our mind to tap into this energy. The intention we have when using the mantra is what is important, your intention is what will awaken the energy from the mantra.
It takes time to feel comfortable meditation, but don't give up, even if you think you're doing it wrong, you are doing more good than you think. Stick with it and you will soon feel the wonderful benefits of Japa meditation.
With peace, love and light.