While meditation is the main objective, mala beads can be used in different ways. Apart from meditation and chanting mantras, malas can also be used as jewellery, worn as a necklace or around your wrist, as a bracelet. You might also see malas as decoration, adorning a home altar or on a yoga mat, while practicing yoga.
Malas usually have a very personal and special meaning, which will depend on where you bought it, if you received it as a gift, which stones your mala is made of and the energy itself when you’re in touch with the beads. Malas are made to help you keep track of a “japa”, which means “muttering” in Sanskrit, or mantra meditation and to help you focus your concentration during the practice. This can be repeating a sound such as “om” or “om mani padme hum” or also longer matras such as the Gayatri mantra. It doesn’t matter if you recite it in silence, whispering or out loud, while you trace the beads of the mala with your fingers so you can keep track of the repetition of your mantra.
Meditating with malas has demonstrated to help you slow down your respiration and raise your spirits. It affects the brain in a positive way and enhances also your self-awareness. Malas can be an important part when you practice meditation.
Here are 10 simple steps, on how you can incorporate malas beads to your meditation:
- Try to minimize all external distractions. If possible, choose a quite and dim lit room.
- Find a comfortable seat and a well-aligned position. If you are sitting on a floor, use a cushion or a folded blanket where you can sit on comfortably. If you decide to sit in a chair, try not lean on the back of the chair. It’s always important that you keep the spine straight, so you don’t hurt your back and the energy can flow.
- Japa meditation can be done with your eyes closed or slightly opened, so you can keep your focus inwards.
- Before you start, focus on your intention and choose a mantra if you want to use it, one that you feel connected to, such as om, so hum, om shanti shanti shanti or an affirmation such as I am love, I am whole, I choose joy, I accept myself, I let go, I am here now etc.
- Hold your mala beads always in the receiving hand. It’s negatively charged and receives energy. If you’re right-handed, hold your mala in your left hand, between your thumb and your index finger. If you’re left-handed, hold it in your right hand. The tassel should point towards you. Hold it gently and let your mala beads dangle easily in your hand.
- Start with the bead that is on the right of the guru bead. This is the bigger bead that is connected to the tassel.
- Breath in and breath out. If you’re comfortable you can also recite a mantra. At each bead repeat your mantra out loud, whisper it or repeat it silently in your mind.
- Move your fingers to the next bead, without using the index finger, as this one represents the “ego”. Point your index finger away. You can use your thumb or the nail of your thumb to easily pull the bead towards you. The knot between each bead will help you to move from bead to bead - Inhale and exhale.
- Move on and repeat the steps at each bead. If you reach a counter bead. This is a bead that divides the mala into 2, 3 or 4 intervals, so you can remind yourself to stay focused, in case your mind wandered off.
- Continue until you feel the guru bead again. Take a moment to pause and reflect. Thank and honor your guru, your mantra, and yourself for taking the time to sit in stillness.
Congrats! You have finished a full practice of mala meditation!
If you want to continue, do not pass over the guru bead, as this is considered as “stepping over your teacher. Instead, turn the the mala around 180 degrees, and start again with step 6.
Don’t worry if your mind will wander. Do not judge yourself, just acknowledge your thoughts and let them go and then continue focusing on your meditation. Be patient.
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